Eden Hill Vineyard: 2013 Dallas Morning News – Texsom Wine Competition Gold Medal from Where?
You haven’t heard of this award winning Texas winery either?
I will admit that my knowledge of Eden Hill Vineyard started once I got the just released gold medal results from this year’s Dallas Morning News – Texsom Wine Competition. After perusing the results and noting the gold medal for their 2012 white blend of 50% Albarino and 50% Viognier (grapes harvested from Smith Estate Vineyard…yep, that’s the vineyard that belongs to Texas wine pioneer Dr. Bobby Smith near Ft. Worth), I realized that Eden Hill was a winery that was not on my recent Texas rural travel itinerary, but definitely should have been.
Well, to make up for my oversight, I quickly searched to find their contact information and talked to Linda Hornbaker, owner of Eden Hill Farm and Vineyard to get me some of their award winning wine. She gave the credit for this wine to Chris Hornbaker, a recent graduate of Grayson College’s viticulture and enology program (click here for more info). I also got the details on this new, but already high flying boutique winery in North Texas:
- Eden Hill’s winery is located in Celina, Texas, just 30 minutes north of Dallas, and 20 minutes west of McKinney.
- If you want to taste (or buy) some of their good juice, they are open every Sunday.
- All of their wines are made in Texas from Texas-grown grapes.
After getting a bottle of their Albarino-Viognier blend, I decided first to taste it and then pair it with an appropriate dish. Upon opening the wine and pouring the first glass, I realized that I was in store for something special. It had a fun effervescence (a light sparkle or frazzante) as it hit the glass followed by a tropical rush of citrus and pineapple overlaid on tart apple with a hanging hint of floral on the finish. I could see why the DMN-Texsom wine competition judges were attracted to this wine and scored it well. It is fun, pleasing and well made.
Then, I set off to prepare just the right dish to complement the wine. I started by keying on something common to the Spanish roots of the Albarino and the Rhone Valley of France where Viognier originates: garlic. I whipped up a course of curly, vegetable pasta intermixed with garlic, mushrooms, clams and a squeeze of Meyer lemon, and topped with a shake of crushed Aleppo pepper and grated cheese.
I finished the meal with a cool pour of Eden Hill Vineyard 2012 Orange Muscat that uses grapes from their vineyard in Celina, Texas, paired with a scoop of butter pecan ice cream. Ooooooh!
There is more information about Eden Hill Vineyard on their website at: http://edenhill.com.
@ccollinsms Hope you are well. What’s the schedule for DallasMN/Texsom wine comp. I’d like again 2feature TX gold winners at Austin FW Fest
Top Ten VintageTexas Blogs (by Views) in September 2012
Kiepersol Estates: A Wineslinger’s Swirl, Sniff and Taste of a Fine Texas Wine
This was my first venture back into east Texas this year and the first since my previous visit to Kiepersol Estates that lead to the chapter in my book, The Wineslinger Chronicles. It was also my wife’s first trip to the domain of Kiepersol. She only knew of it from what I offered in that chapter; the one she often cites as her favorite.
The east Texas scenery was as if I was looking at it through bright green lenses, a stark contrast to the well-done ocher fields and all too often scorched black earth brought by last summer’s drought. The backdrop of green grass, trees and wild vines before us was more like I had previously described. My words were fresh on my mind from my recent rehearsal of excerpt readings to accompany the evening’s Kiepersol wine dinner.
“Scenic hills with tall pine trees fringed my East Texas path to produce a cloistered environment with an emerald cast. As I drove, I thought about how modern man conjoins with nature on a grand scale in Texas: acres under barn, vast countryside dedicated to row crops, white wooden fences extending to the horizon guarding the domain of domesticated animals.
Once at Tyler’s southern reach, I entered what I soon realized was the “Province of Kiepersol,” the domain of Pierre de Wet and his daughters. A man of immense vision and strength, Pierre, with his daughters Marnelle and Velmay following closely in his footsteps, has crafted a new life and realm.
Having just arrived and with time only to drop our belongings at the Kiepersol B&B, we made our way to the winery tasting room overlooking the estate vineyard. As we entered and were welcomed, Pierre de Wet, the domains keeper and winemaker Marnelle Durrette, Pierre’s married daughter, whisked us into a tall-ceilinged, dimly-light back room, a stack of oak barrels against one wall.
Pierre said with his characteristic South African inflection of short phrases, “In August of 2000, for our first vintage, this was our whole winery. We crushed over there. We had tanks over here. This was our barrel room, too.” Marnelle pointed to a restroom off a back hallway and she said “Back then, this was our lab. At times, we had four people working in that little space at the same time.”
It may have been humble beginnings, like most of Pierre’s ventures, but now Kiepersol Estates operation was first-rate with a fine tasting room and 60-acre vineyard. Their large production facility was just a short walk along the vineyard’s perimeter from the tasting room. It was packed tight with cold, sweating stainless steel tanks. This was in contrast to my last visit when this space was open and only lined with the shiny, wine-filled chambers.
At the back of the modern facility was their barrel room, a two story affair, stacked floor-to-ceiling with over 600 barrels of aging wine. The evolution from a start-up undertaking to a top-notch winery was impressive.
As quick as we entered the small, dimly-lit room where grapes were once crushed, fermented and aged, bottles of wine and wine glasses appeared on a table with the obvious intension for us to taste several Kiepersol wines. As my eyes began to adjust to the dim light, I looked at a row of bottles set at room’s edge. These were the wines that perhaps Marnelle and Pierre were most proud: Merlot, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon and top-of-their-line red blend, Barrel 33. As the wines were poured, we talked.
Marnelle said, “Here’s what we’ve got. We just bottled our ’09 vintage wine and want to compare it to what’s already out, our ‘08. My dad and I haven’t tasted these wines side-by-side yet.” She was a little worried, as the ’09 vintage wines were just recently bottled and could be still shocked by the transfer.
As the wine was poured, Pierre said to me, “Your book turned out beautifully.” My wife responded, just as I expected, by saying that the chapter on Kiepersol and my descriptions of Pierre were her favorite part of my Wineslinger Chronicles.
I said, “We’ve both read your book, too.” To which, Marnelle, said questioningly but with a tone of startled excitement, “You’ve read the book…my dad’s book!” I indicated that it was good for me to read Pierre’s book (Story of We). I’d made some assumptions of Pierre’s background based on what I perceived from only on a couple short meetings. What appeared event to me at that time was his strong and independent character and his solid family ties. I was glad to read his book that gave me “the rest of his story” and confirmed much of what I had perceived and wrote.
As we tried to put that topic aside to taste wine, Pierre said, “It’s a lot of work to write a book, isn’t it. But, I’ve found that people generally appreciate it, though.” I compared the writing of a good book to polishing a diamond; it gets a little brighter and more facets appear with each edit until the story sparkles with its own pure light.
Marnelle presented us her ’08 and ’09 Syrah and to reminded us said, “They go left to right, just like you read.” So, we swirled and sniffed each, then repeated the process again. I them a roll in the glass, a look against a white paper that I’d found on a nearby table and then tasted both.
I ventured with the first comment, “Both wines have Syrah written all over them which is a very good start.” Then proceded with, “They are two very similar wines and approachable. The show dominant fruit aromas and hints of fresh herbs.”
Pierre said, “Both of these wines are very comfortable for me.” Finally, Marnelle expressed her relief and pleasure with our comments, and said, “That’s good. We are trying to get continuity between the vintages so our consumers won’t be affected when we make the switch.” I assured her that these wines were very complimentary and should sell well.
What I held back saying until the end was that the Kiepersol estate-grown Syrah was some of the best examples of Syrah that I’ve tasted coming from Texas vineyards in recent years. That might surprise some people, particularly when I tell them it was the product of east Texas winegrowing on the outskirts of Tyler, Texas, in a small town that the locals call Bullard.
According to many, this vinifera-dominated vineyard is not supposed to exist (due to Pierce’s disease pressure or the areas heat and humidity) and, Pierre and Marnelle would have bettered their chances of success if they’d gone with hybrid grapes, not the classic, European vinifera vines. For most people, Kiepersol Estates is off their Texas wine radar which is strongly focused on the Texas hill country and high plains area about Lubbock. While these are sources for quality grapes and premium wines, Pierre has proven what he said to me at our last meeting that I documented in my book:
“Sense of place, terroir, for me it’s very different than the old conception that you read about in all your wine books. With modern-day technology, man can change the terroir. I’m a good enough farmer to change it to get what I want.”
What Pierre and Manelle have done with their estate Syrah proved to me that he was, in fact, an excellent farmer. In the terminology of France, with pride, Pierre would be called a vigneron or “vine farmer”. The word indicates and stresses the critical role of the vineyard in the production of high-quality wine.
Here I was, only a few hours from Houston or the Dallas Fort Worth Metroplex, tasting a stellar, locally-grown Syrah, which until recently had been a best kept secret. With the recent accolades Kiepersol Estate has gained for their estate-grown Syrah (in its many forms), the secret should be “out of the bag” by now.
Kiepersol’s ’08 Syrah received a silver medal in the 2012 Lone Star International Wine Competition. Their stainless steel fermented Syrah made without oak aging (just with cold soak and extended maceration) garnered gold medals at the 2012 Dallas Morning News and TexSom Wine Competition and at 2012 Lone Star International Wine Competition. Furthermore, Kiepersols Syrah-dominated flagship wine, Barrel No. 33 received a silver medal at the 2012 Lone Star International Wine Competition.
We finished the afternoon, tasting through the Kiepersol Estates Cabernet and Merlot, both well made and what I called “wines that finely expressed the classic French characteristics of these grapes in balance with their place of origin – their terroir.”
We ended up tasting the ‘08 Barrel No. 33. As Marnelle poured it, she said softly, “Here’s my dad’s baby.” If this wine was tasted blind, you might confuse it for a high end Australian Shiraz-style wine having the power of dark cherry aromas and almost sweet blackberry flavors, but accompanied with soft, fine tannins and a silky texture on the palate.
Pierre said, “This wine has always been made from selected clusters of red grapes. Marnelle and I walk through the vineyard. As we find a cluster we really like, we mark it with a ribbon.”
Marnelle said, “Originally, this wine included five grape varieties. It all started with one barrel at Kiepersol Estates, Barrel No. 33.” However, for several years, it was a work-in-progress. When I tasted the Barrel No. 33 a couple years ago, it was good, but lacked a certain focus that I’dfound in wines at the highest level. Marnelle now admitted that my previous comment made her realize that she’d not yet found what it was in the vineyard and winery that would give Pierre and her the pinnacle of success that they wanted to achieve in Barrel No. 33.
When Marnelle poured me a taste of her ’09 Barrel No. 33, I immediately realized a difference from the past with the wine’s deep purple hue that overtook the edge of the glass. After a swirl, a sniff and a taste, the wine yielded deep lush red berry aromas followed by even deeper, bolder essences of black berries and black olive followed by earthy truffle notes and a long, crisp finish. Marnelle said, “After trying several blends we came up with this one that’s mostly our estate Syrah with 8 percent of what I can honestly say is ‘a secret’ because I frankly don’t recall it from memory. I’ll have to go back into the records to find out what exactly it is.”
With many months of American oak with medium to medium plus toast it was obvious that Barrel No. 33 has its load of tannins and is built to age. That said, the tannins, in this young state are “stout yet comfortable”, well integrated with the wine’s fruit and minerally character – no “oak float going on here. Is Barrel No. 33 a Texas wine that can sell for more than $40 a bottle? Well, the character and quality are both there to justify it, but I will leave the question up to your preference and price-point, pain-point.
I asked Marnelle if she had used a winemaking technique called “micro-ox” also known as micro-oxygenation used to soften tannic wines. She said no and alluded to the fact that wines made with this technique, while generally having a softer tannic profile as a result, to her also have an artificial quality to them, which she doesn’t particularly does not prefer.
With her penchant for more natural winemaking techniques and Pierre’s terroir, Marnelle offered an insight that I figured was the best and final statement for this wine. She said, “This is precisely the outcome we’ve wanted.”
Wine Spectator: CapRock’s 2010 Bingham Family Vineyards Roussanne – A Very Good Value
From the October 15, 2012 issue of Wine Spectator: Great American wines – 200 delicious reds and whites for $20 or less (by Kim Marcus)
“There’s no doubt about it: Americans love American wine. Whether it’s due to patriotic impulse or to familiarity with the brands and varietals on offer, Americans overwhelmingly prefer their native bottlings. Nearly three- quarters of the wine consumed in the United States is grown and made on domestic soil.
With this love affair in mind, our latest review of the best wines for the buck focuses on what comes from within U.S. borders. The criteria are straightforward: $20 or less a bottle for American-made wines scoring 85 points or higher (or very good) on the Wine Spectator 100-point scale.”
From the top 110 American White Wines (Other U.S. Category)
85 CapRock 2010 Roussanne Texas High Plains (Bingham Family Vineyards) $18
“… has good creamed peach and melon flavors, with a judicious butter note running through the finish. Drink now. 597 cases made.” –JM
Phillip Anderson, General Manager of CapRock Winery said, “A key point to make is that this isn’t just that CapRock has one of the “Great American Values” in white wine. It means that CapRock is on Wine Spectator’s radar as a quality wine producer in a way that no other Texas winery is right now.”
Catherine Bodenstedt, Owner of CapRock Winery said, “Having a mention in such a well respected and prestigious industry publication is huge. We’re so excited about it and proud to support Texas grape growers such as Bingham Family Vineyards.”
To date, The Roussanne 2010 vintage has won the following awards:
2012 Dallas Morning News & TexSom Wine Competition, Gold Medal
2012 Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo International Wine Competition, Silver Medal
Medal of Excellence (Gold Medal) 2011 Jefferson Cup Wine Invitational Competition
2012 Lone Star International Wine Competition, Silver Medal
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Click here for Lubbockonline.com - Texas Wineslinger: Sam Clark brings his Texas wine knowledge to new Spec’s
& Texas Wine of the Week – Llano Estacado 2010 Cellar Reserve Tempranillo (Newsom Vineyard)
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Other wines in the Wine Spectator’s Value White Wines (Other U.S.) listing were:
90 Fox Run Riesling Finger Lakes Dry 2010 $16
88 Hermann J. Wiemer Riesling Finger Lakes Dry 2010 $18
87 Hazlitt 1852 Riesling Finger Lakes Homestead Reserve 2010 $18
87 Sherwood House Chardonnay North Fork of Long Island $18
Oregon Road 2011
86 Keuka Spring Vineyards Riesling Finger Lakes Semi Sweet 2010 $14
86 Lucas Riesling Finger Lakes Semi-Dry 2010 $14
86 Montelle Vignoles Missouri Dry 2010 $18
85 Cap*Rock Roussanne Texas High Plains $18
85 Dr. Konstantin Frank Riesling Finger Lakes Semi-Dry 2010 $15
September 11th TXwine Twitter Tuesday: TEXSOM and Muy Grande Tasting
This month we will share good tales and tastes of Texas wine from TEXSOM 2012 – The Texas Sommeliers Conference that was held mid-August at the Four Seasons Las Colinas Resort in Dallas. It was Red Bordeaux at nine in the morning followed by Texas wines all before the noon lunch break. Not your average Sunday morning fare.
Special guest at this month’s twitter tasting will be Guy Stout (@GuyStout), Master Sommelier and Director of Beverage Education for The Glazer’s Family of Companies. He co-chaired this year’s Texsom Texas wine panel. We will also have Austin’s Matt McGinnis (@MattMcGinnis), contributing writer for CultureMap Austin, who also attended TEXSOM and just passed the Court of Master Sommeliers introductory course.
Since we are tasting Texas wines from TEXSOM 2012, choose a wine or two from the following that were featured at the event: Duchman Vermentino, Trebbiano, and Dolcetto; CapRock Viognier and Tempranillo, McPherson Roussanne, and Pedernales Cellars Tempranillo and Viognier.
Spec’s Fine Wines and Spirits, Private Label Texas Tempranillo…It’s Muy Grande!
To celebrate the opening of a new Spec’s store in Lubbock, September’s TXwine Twitter Tuesday will also feature a special private labeled Texas wine made with Texas grapes and offered by Spec’s Fine Wines and Spirits stores around the state. It’s a Tempranillo blend called Muy Grande made by the hand of Texas’s favorite-son winemaker, Kim McPherson in Lubbock.
Pick up a few of the abovementioned Texas wines and join the September TXwine Twitter Tuesday and join in the tasting and Twitter fun. These wines should be available at Spec’s, Whole Foods, Total Wine, Kroger Signature Stores, United & Market Street stores near you or directly from the wineries.
Remember to: Taste, Twitter and Repeat! You can also post photos of your Twitter Tuesday tasting experiences. It’s exciting to taste with fellow Texas wine lovers from around the state.
To participate in the TXwine Twitter Tuesday on September 11th, remember to include the hashtag #TXwine in your tweet.
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NOTE: If you’re new to Twitter, here’s how you participate: just sign up for a free Twitter account at www.twitter.com. To make it easy to follow and participate in the discussion, go to the TweetChat room set up for TXwine Twitter Tuesdays: http://tweetchat.com/room/TXwine. No registration is required; you can login using your Twitter account info.
In the TweetChat room, participants are invited to follow tweets, add comments, and share thoughts as the participants taste and discuss the wines (the #TXwine hashtag will be added automatically). If using TweetDeck or another Twitter application, you will need to add #TXwine in your Tweets.
Texsom 2012: What a Tasting Opportunity… From Margaux to Mason County Texas
The Sunday morning session began with a rush of servers, Sommeliers of all types with varying degrees of certification, pouring to over a hundred attendees, giving each eight glasses of dark red-purple wine from the French Bordeaux region. Representing wines included the complete Bordeaux experience: simple Haut-Medoc to well-structured Margaux to a well-aged and graceful Chateau Cos D’Estournel. Wayne Bending MS and Brett Zimmerman MS painted the picture of this well regarded wine region as being defined by water (or its removal from the Bordeaux swamps by the Dutch in the 1600’s) and the best winegrowing properties defined by piles of stones brought down over the time of eons from the Massif Central to their resting place next to the Gironde River just inland from the Atlantic coast of France.
If you literally want the blow-by-blow description of three days at Texsom 2012, what most people recognize as the premier Sommelier-lead wine event in the nation, Jeff Cope’s already got it ready for you at this TXwineLover website (click here). He’s done a great and complete job, too.
My focus this past Sunday morning was the session led by double barreled Texan Sommeliers, Guy Stout MS and Christy Canterbury MW, called “Texas Terroir”. It was an hour and fifteen minutes of tasting and at time twang talking about Texas Terroir what Guy Stout said in plain Texan talk meant “Texas Dirt”. Simply put, it’s our dry sandy loam, heavily nuanced by limestone deposited over 100 million years ago by the vast inland sea about when our friends on the Kimmeridgian Chain in France had similar processes occurring. Who’da thunk it, but it’s so! There’s a commonality between wine production in France and right here in Texas – the strong influence of limestone.
Again, the onslaught of wine servers appeared from the wings bringing what I’m sure must have looked like an alphabet soup of wine names uninfluenced by the preconceptions of mostly California wine-educated attendees. There was not a Chardonnay or Merlot or Pinot Noir in the bunch, and for good reason: Texas’s climate ain’t like what you find in California (and you know what, come to think of it… It’s not much like Bordeaux’s and it sure as hell ain’t like Burgundy’s either). The line-up of Texas wines was heavily influenced by the gold medal results of the 2012 Dallas Morning News/Texsom International Wine Competition that showed what grapes actually like to be grown here in Texas. It included:
2010 Duchman Vermentino (Bingham Family Vineyards)
2010 McPherson Cellars Reserve Roussanne (Bingham Family Vineyards)
2010 CapRock Viognier (Reddy Vineyards)
2009 Sandstone Cellars VII (Mason County)
2009 Pedernales Cellars Kuhlken Vineyards Reserve Red Blend
2010 Fairhaven Vineyards Chambourcin
2010 Vineyard at Florence “Veritas” Cabernet Sauvignon (Williamson County)
2010 Haak Vineyards Madeira Blanc Du Bois
All were Texas born and bred (not made from imported grapes), and now were ready to be Texas savored.
Most noteworthy, after the fact that they were not the standard California set of wines, was the intensely crisp minerally characteristics of the first three white wines (Vermentino, Roussanne and Viognier) nuanced with citrus, peach and florals. In fact, the discussion among the attendees and the presenters at the Texas Terroir session reminded me of that from the previous day’s session where people cooed at length on the minerality of the white wines of Sancerre, Champagne and Chablis that are linked by the limestone of the Kimmeridgian Chain.
Following the white wines came the onslaught of Texas reds which brought a somewhat similar surprised response: minerally characteristics in balance with moderate alcohol and red/black fruit aromas and flavors. These were not the fruit bombs that we have been taught to expect from our west coast friends, but again more like the refined wines of Europe. And, the varietals were not the usual suspects but rather Touriga Nacional (a Portugese variety) and Mediterranean grapes (Tempranillo, Grenache, Mourvedre allowed to interplay and reinterpret the role of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot in a blending capacity) and the lusciously fruity yet dry wine from the hybrid grape, Chambourcin. Only the Vineyard at Florence “Veritas” depended on Cabernet Sauvignon that show well-aged qualities, but seemed a little tired by comparison to the bright wines made from Texas’s lesser known but superior performing red varietals.
The flight ended with a cool yet fiery statement for the innovation of Texas viticulture and enology in the Haak Vineyards Madeira Blanc Du Bois. It was a conventionally produced Mardeira-styled wine, complete with the method of Estufagem production (or oven baking of wine in barrel) perfected by the winemakers on the Island of Madeira, but featuring Texas’s own Blanc Du Bois, white hybrid grape. The orange-copper and green hued wine, showed intense dried fruit, mineral and crisp acidity encased in honeyed richness. This style of wine, if pursued by other wineries in Texas has the potential to produce a cult following for Texas similar to the way Icewine has become a well-anticipated Canadian favorite.
After the Texas Terroir session, someone came up to me and asked what I found to be the biggest surprise about Texas wines. Well, after thinking for a moment, I responded simply that it was how long it took winemakers and winegrowers in Texas to stop trying to emulate Bordeaux and Burgundy and embrace the inevitable: Texas IS the Mediterranean of the USA. But, maybe now Texas is ready to hit it’s stride and make its wines with the varietals and in the style that shined so bright in this Texsom Texas Terroir session.