Bar Z Winery: Mellow and Mature… These are Monty’s Wines
If you are not familiar Monty Dixon’s Bar Z Winery in Canyon, Texas, I recommend highly recommend a visit – via an extended road trip, an intermediate stop on a cross-country adventure, or a short hop on your private plane. Dixon’s Bar Z Winery is on Texas’s “Norther Shore” barely 100 miles and change from the Colorado state line and about the same distance north of Lubbock. There, you will find wines, like their creator Dixon – unfiltered, robust, and perhaps, a little different.
Dixon likes to call his Bar Z Winery “a hidden panhandle gem” overlooking Palo Duro Canyon. Though, he isn’t growing grapes. He says, “Bar Z works with Texas High Plains AVA vineyards and takes their high-quality Texas grown grapes and makes them into award-winning, full-bodied red wines.” Dixon is very proud to be making wines with 100% Texas high plains grapes so that you can taste the unique characteristics of “Texas terroir”.
One of the most striking differences at Bar Z is… Time. Most wineries rush their wines through the winemaking-to-bottling process to get them into the tasting room and/or marketplace as quickly as possible. Dixon, however, takes his time. For example, today in 2017, you will not be drinking a Bar Z wine from the 2015 or 2016 vintage. Think more like 2008 through 2014. His line up takes a page out of the Spanish Gran Reserva playbook…. Wait. Be patient. Don’t rush it. Release it when it is mellow and mature.
I recently had a tasting of Bar Z wines and I will share some notes and a few thoughts:
Bar Z, 2014 L’efflorescence Pinot Noir, Bayer Family Vineyards AVA
This wine is a mere adolescent among Dixon’s wines, but has the gravitas of maturity in the glass. The color is pale to medium garnet and shows its medium body. Whereas Dixon’s previous attempts at this persnickety grape (particularly in Texas) were single-note red fruit Jolly Rancher-ish, his 2014 had the red fruit alright, but nuanced minerally and joyful aromatics of cedar. The mouthfeel is silky and rich, with the taste dominated by tart red pomegranate and black olives with an underlay of mild astringency and limestone minerals as the finish approaches. This wine has the presence and aged characteristics of a much older fine red burgundy. All in all, this wine is pleasant to taste and nose but is likely destine to do even better with food. It is a complement for lighter fare such as salmon but could likely hold up very well against simply grilled (with olive oil and herbs) white and red meats, too.
Bar Z, 2012 Tempranillo, Bayer Family Vineyards, Texas High Plains AVA
This wine is a red-fruit “bigger brother” to its sibling, L’efflorescence. It has black cherry dominance combined with fig and black tea on the nose and palate. There are even light surrounding aromatics of mint and dry trail dust on the nose that build as the wine opens in the glass. The palate experience of this deep garnet wine extends further with secondary notes of leather and soy to give it a true umami experience. The savoriness on the palate ends with a crisp clean mineral-driven finish. There is definitely a lot going on in the glass with this wine. Very Rioja-like, particularly with its medium-bodied, not overblown presence in the glass. This wine will do well with a nicely marbled pan-fried steak – perhaps a ribeye or a cut of wagyu. The acid in this wine will cut right thru the fat in the beef.
Bar Z 2008, Enigmatic (red blend), Texas High Plains AVA
78% Tempranillo ( Newsom Vineyards), 9% Mourvedre and 9% Sangiovese (Martin Vineyard), 3% Merlot and 1% Petit Verdot (Newsom Vineyards)
Here is a glass of wine so deep, unfathomably dark and seemingly impenetrable it almost leaves the taster speechless. The wine is a deep garnet with a brick-red edge that brings red/black fruit, leather, tobacco and even some vanilla aromas front and center. On the palate, this wine expresses a rich, full body concentrating the red/black fruit melange with smooth, mellow tannins on the finish. This is the “Daddy” of the three wines. This is my third taste of this wine over the past couple years and it continues to hold its own without diminish. Bring on the mixed grill of game meats or a compliment of aged hard cheese (including the oldest aged Manchego you can find).