Saint Tryphon Farm and Vineyards: Texas Wines on the Wild Side
It is no doubt that, no matter what wine region you are in, “natural wines” are the rage these days, Say the words “natural wines” and “Texas” in the same sentence and anyone that has been in or around the Texas wine industry for a decade or more immediately automatically thinks of one person: Lewis Dickson and his rustic La Cruz de Comal vineyard and winery just outside Startzville on the south side of Canyon Lake. He has created fine Texas grown wines (made with local yeasts, unfiltered, unfined, and without added sulfites… and mostly with Texas hybrid grapes (not the customary European Vitis vinifera grapes). He likes Blanc Du Bois for white wines and Black Spanish for reds). See link to prior “natural wine” visit with Dickson – click here.
During a recent stop at a new young winery (Saint Tryphon Farm and Vineyards) between Boerne and Sisterdale, I met up with what appears to be one of Dickson’s Texas winemaking disciples – Silouan Bradford, Saint Tryphon’s owner, grape grower and winemaker. Besides having his own line of conventionally produced Texas wines, he has some that appear with the words “Wild Fermented” on the label. In these wines, he has definitely gone natural. However, he tends to get a bit argumentative on the use of the agreeable but obtuse words “natural wines” by asking, “What does natural wine actually mean?”.
Bradford’s preference is to use the term “Wild Fermented” versus “Natural” as per his perspective, the yeasts used in his wine ferment may not be actually native or indigenous – he really doesn’t know. Rather, he said, “All I know if that, the strains of yeast are wild. They come from anywhere and everywhere in the nearby Texas hill country: from my vineyard, in the winery, bought here by pollinators, windblown from down the road, maybe from his and other wineries using conventional wine yeast strains to make wine, and even from his adjoining farm. The one thing I know is that the yeasts in my wines were wild, let loose to do their own thing naturally in the wine.”
I tasted two of Bradford’s wild fermented wines – Saint Tryphon Blanc Du Bois 2016 Texas Hill Country “Flower & Bee” and Saint Tryphon Mourvèdre 2016 Farmhouse Vineyard | Texas High Plains “Far Afield”.
Saint Tryphon Blanc Du Bois 2016 Texas Hill Country “Flower & Bee” – One Barrel
This is a truly rare and unique wine made from the highly disease resistant hybrid grape, Blanc Du Bois. that has really taken on the mantle of one of Texas’s featured white wine grapes. The fact that only one barrel was made makes this wine special. Bradford’s wild fermentation let loose to ferment it makes it really special and it does not disappoint. This Blanc Du Bois opens with a pale straw color in the glass from which it catapults a highly aromatic mix of tropicals, florals, and citrusy-peachy delights. Sold in small 500 ml bottles, it is best of savor this wine in a lengthy fully sensual experience: first by sight, by smell and finally in short sips that have a long dwell time on the palate. Once in this latter stage, the wine titillates (stimulates and excites) the palate with firm yet refreshing acidity carrying long flavors true to its aroma.
Saint Tryphon Mourvèdre 2016 Farmhouse Vineyard | Texas High Plains “Far Afield” – Two Barrels
With my palate titillated and my brain cells scintillated from the first wine, I eagerly awaited Bradford’s wild ferment of the Texas high plains (and Farmhouse Vineyard-grown) Mourvèdre. I have many times previously in blog and book mentioned my love of this grape. From prior visits to its home turf in the tiny French appellation of Bandol, it seems like part of this grapes destiny is to be a key part of Texas wines of now and the future.
Like the Blanc Du Bois, the Saint Tryphon “Wild Fermented” Mourvèdre speaks strongly from the glass with its voice coming from its purply medium-plus body and natural acidity. These features are overlaid with aromas of ripe red berries and aromatic Mediterranean herbs followed by richly concentrated characteristics of dried currants and cranberries, ending with a decisive minerally note. These are a lot of descriptors to cram into a glass of wine. This wine leaves you with a feeling of how clean, refreshing and uncontrived red wines can be if left to their own natural directions in the winery.
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With the limits of one and two barrels made of these wines respectively, only little is left of the 2016 vintage. But alas, there is hope. The releases from the 2017 vintage are just around the corner and, in fact, depending on when you read this blog, may already be waiting for you at the winery.
Takeaway Message: Certainly, the wild origin of these wine – made without modern winemaking manipulations – does not leave the wines deficient in any way, shape or form. Rather, they seem to simplify, enhance and clarify the wines throughout the tasting experience. Visit the winery, pull your cork, taste and enjoy!
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Saint Tryphon Farm and Vineyards (click here for website link)
24 Wasp Creek Road, Boerne, Texas 78006
Open 11am-6pm Thursday through Saturday; Sundays 1pm-5pm
The Saint Tryphon Farm & Vineyards tasting room and patio sit adjacent to their estate vineyard and 1890s hill country homestead, 7 miles north of Boerne, TX and 4 miles south of Sisterdale, TX.