Texas Fine Wine Tasting Stop: Duchman Vermentino… It’s Back and Better than Ever!

About a decade ago, Duchman Family Winery and its winemaker Dave Reilly made quite a statement with a wine that was made from a nearly unknown grape to most Texans – Vermentino. It was grown on the Teaxas High Plains, a long way from the Mediterranean climes in Sardinia, Provence and Italy where is was originated. It has been cultivated since the 14th century and in the recent century reached a zenith in the north sector of Sardinia. But now, I think that I can say that it’s found its love for the Texas sun.

Vermentino on the Vine

Swapping texts back-and-forth, Reilly and I scratched our heads and somewhat agreed his close relationship with Texas Vermentino started around 2008. After that, a series of gold medals from the prestigious wine competitions in San Francisco followed for the next decade when his Vermentino was submitted.

In 2010, one of the world’s leading wine experts Oz Clarke came to Texas and whipped Vermentino up to a fever pitch after he tasted over 50 Texas wines. Oz Clarke chose his favorites, and proclaimed Duchman Vermentino the best Texas wine he tasted.  This was a huge recognition from one of the world foremost wine luminaries. Side note: While Austin wine writer Wes Marshall was the face of this Texas tasting, Denise Clarke and I were the hidden faces in the back room. We selected the best Texas wines we could find, and lined them up for delivery for Oz and Wes to taste.

Duchman Family Winery in Driftwood, Texas

Texas Vermentino is Special, But Was MIA for the Past Five Years

So, you can see why Duchman Vermentino is special to me and many other Texas wine drinkers.  In 2019, the loss of Duchman’s source of Vermentino – Bingham Family Vineyards – from a severe October freeze, is something to be mourned. For several years, there has been no Vermentino made at Duchman Family Winery. Winemaker Dave had to lean hard into his other very fine white wines like Trebbiano and a newly found favorite, Roussanne, to make up for the loss. However, there is now good news.

With the 2023 vintage, Duchman’s winemaker Dave Reilly is back in the business making his award winning Vermentino, and the 2023 vintage wine was just released!

Duchman Family Winery 2019 & 2013 Vermentino

The Duchman Vermentino Tasting 

Sit down and take a seat. I just happen to have my last bottle of the Duchman 2019 Vermentino that’s been restfully occupying a slot in my wine cooler for four of its five years of bottle aging. With it, I have my first bottle of the Duchman 2023 Vermentino, and both are ready for tasting.

Duchman Family Winery, 2019 Vermentino, Bingham Family Vineyard – In the glass, this wine’s light straw color of youth has turned to gold typical of bottle aged white wines. Its aromas are still true with lemon-lime citrus, crushed limestone minerality, and has gained a few secondary notes of toasted almonds, yellow delicious apple and a more accentuated green herbal note. On the palate, it shown light-medium body and still great acidity. This wine has held together very well during its five-year bottle life, and my educated guess it is due to the wine’s predominant natural acidity. It is very drinkable and worthy of a good dinner table showing with fish or fowl.

Duchman Family Winey, 2023 Vermentino – Now, what you’ve been waiting for… This 2023 Vermentino harkens back to Duchman’s newly released Vermentinos of yore: Straw color with green highlights, dry, fresh and citrusy-crisp with fresh acidity riding with more dominant notes of pear and white peach than I recalled in previous vintages. It also provides nuances of verbena in its after taste aroma. Flat out, there’s a lot going on in this wine. It’s my opinion that this wine is sipping well and is a natural pairing for oysters on the half shell, and veal or chicken piccata. It even works in a simple pairing with McDonald great French fries. I’ll even suggest pairing it with buttery, garlicky escargot.

Duchman Winemakers, Dave Reilly

The Winemaker’s Story – The Missing Vermentino

Dave Reilly said, “It has been three years since Duchman has made a Vermentino due to the damaging freeze in late-2019. The grapes for the 2023 Vermentino came from three Texas high plains vineyards: Oswald Vineyard planted 6 acres for us in 2020; 2023 was the first crop. Bingham Family Vineyards planted its vines in 2006 and 2007 but had to retrain them in 2020 after the October 31, 2019 freeze event; 2023 was the first crop from the retrained vines. We also sourced Vermentino from Canted County Vineyards this year for the first time.”

He also warned, “Don’t be mislead by the critics of fruit from young vines, because this typically does not apply to the grape we get from the Texas High Plains. For example, think for a second about the Double Gold that we won at the San Francisco International Wine Competition for our 2008 Dolcetto from its first crop.”

One of the cornerstones of the Duchman’s portfolio of wines, its Vermentino, is back and it’s truly a world-class white wine.

The Wise Winemaker’s Perspective

I think that Dave Reilly was getting a little frustrated with me in my pursuit of a date(s) of gold medals for his Vermentino. He responded to me saying, “Oh damn… I have no idea, it was pretty early on, I think… I really don’t keep up with the medals, I make the best wine that I can and they get submitted to the competitions. I don’t mean that in an arrogant way, I just don’t count the medals. If my customers like it and come back for it, that’s better than a gold at any competition to me.”

If Reilly had one more word to tell you about his 2023 Vermentino, I bet it would be – Enjoy!

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Love to taste, talk and tweet about Texas wines and where they are in the global scheme for wines. After all that's the only way they will reach the full potential.

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