Nov 012010
 

Guest Blog: Sandstone Cellars Winery (Mason, TX)

By JohnGL, The Alcoholian

A dry county deep in the heart of Texas is an unlikely location for a boutique winery that has helped put this state’s wines on the map. But, here they are:

You’ll find the winery located in this small house just off the town square on San Antonio Street in Mason, TX, a hamlet boasting a population of about 2500 souls.

You’ll also find them in the 7th edition of Robert A. Parker’s Wine Buyer’s Guide. Sandstone Cellars Winery, along with five other Texas wineries, made Parker’s prestigious list of “Wineries Worth Discovering.”

Scott Haupert and Manny Silerio are the unassuming owners of the winery and allowed me the pleasure of wandering around. The wander took all of about five minutes because the place where all the magic happens is an area the size of my living room.

The magician, whose alchemic wizardry sets the stage, is winemaker Don Pullum. With his Harvard degree and venture capitalist background, Pullum is an unlikely showman. But to say these guys are rock stars in this small town of artisans is an understatement. Everyone wants to know them.

At least it seemed that way during the release party which took place last night. It was as though the entire town came out to buy up this year’s offerings.

This year, for the first time ever, Sandstone Cellars has released four new wines. In their classicly understated style, they are not named, but simply numbered VII through X.

Having lived in Texas for ten years, I’ve sampled a lot of Texas wines. In those ten years, I’ve purchased three bottles: an orange muscat, a “port”, and a red blend.

Last night, I bought a mixed case. Further, I wasn’t even tipsy when I did it.

The most glorious spousal unit and I hit town about a half hour before the event and Pullum was doing some test pours on the IX when we walked in. He asked if we’d like some wine. Being a tad parched from the long ride in the covered wagon, it took us 0.02 seconds to bob our heads and reach for a glass.

The nine, a rich blend of tempranillo and touriga varietals, was tasty enough with its dark fruit and notes of leather and a touch of tobacco, but then I had a sample of the X.

The blend of syrah, touriga, and nebbiollo was reminiscent of a Northern Rhone with a characteristic peppery finish. Over the past several years, I’ve grown quite fond of that region from a stylistic standpoint, and I think, with a couple of years of aging behind it, the X will mature nicely. I’ve got enough bottles to sample it every six months. These will go nicely with a grilled steak.

In my opinion, the standout wine (and perhaps breakout wine for the winery) is the VII, which I sampled immediately after the X. This 100% Touriga was seriously complex and riddled with spice. From a full pour, I kept sampling this throughout the evening (a couple of hours at least) and it just kept evolving. By the last sip, it was lush and fruity with a hint of anise. I believe this could stand several years of aging just fine and I will be decanting the bottles I can’t resist opening in the interim.

You may notice that the touriga grape keeps popping up. That isn’t a coincidence. By all accounts, the varietal does well here. Judging by the folks crowded into the tasting room, it brings in the bucks, too.

I greatly enjoyed chatting with Scott and Don and their smiles, seemingly permanently affixed to their faces, tell the tale their winery’s rising star. Their passion for their craft comes from the heart and is revealed to the rest of the world in their wines.

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