Texas Fine Wine Tasting Stop: Talk and Taste Edition – Great Wines are a Zooming!

Texas FIne Wines are Zooming Tonight!

Last Tuesday evening Texas Fine Wine, a consortium of four Texas fine wineries, provided a Zoom “Talk and Taste” session organized by Denise Clarke that featured wines from:

  • Pedernales Cellars
  • Duchman Family Winery
  • Spicewood Vineyards
  • Bending Branch Winery

that collectively form the Texas Fine Wine group. This group was organized to promote its four member wineries collectively and is dedicated to producing quality benchmark wines from Texas grapes. This “Tasting Stop” was a great way to kick off the 2024 summer tasting season in Texas. In addition to tasting four pre-selected wines, principals from the four wineries were in attendance to give background on the wineries and their wines.

May Talk & Taste Texas Wine Wine Wines!

Pedernales Cellars, Stonewall

The first wine up for tasting and discussion was the Pedernales Cellars 2023 Texas High Plains Trebbiano that yielded green apple, tangerine, white flowers and earthy wet wool similar (an often used descriptor for Chenin Blanc). 

Harvesting grapes in Pedernales Cellars’ vineyard

Representing Pedernales Cellars was co-owner David Kuhlken. David mentioned, “At Pedernales, we have been growing since 1995 and running the winery since 2006. So, through the years we have seen the quality of Texas wines go up so much and we find this really exciting. Further, we are seeing one of our Texas High Plains growers going organic.” This combined with the increase in quality in the grapes should be really exciting for wine consumers in the years to come. Kuhlken also said, “With all of our good experience with Viognier over the years, this is only the second time we’ve made a Trebbiano but it handled the heat that we experienced in 2023 very well to provide a very nice expression of this grape variety.”  

Duchman Family Winery, Driftwood

The second wine featured in this Talk and Taste session was the Duchman 2023 Vermentino, Texas High Plains. The wine was presented by winemaker Dave Reilly. He related that this was the first year the winery has been able to make Vermentino, back from a three-year, weather related hiatus. Well, the Duchman Vermentino restarted right were it left off with its familiar notes of lime zest, lemon, pineapple and yellow apple.

Duchman Family Winery

With these grapes were grown on the Texas High Plains and experiencing a 6+ hour truck ride to the winery in Driftwood, Reilly said, “I haven’t always look at this as a positive, but come to embrace it. The truck ride likely gives these white grapes a good deal of skin contact prior to fermentation.” This skin contact brings another dimension to the characteristics of this wine. It’s been that way from the time of the first Duchman Vermentino around 2008 through to this year, minus its three-year hiatus.

 Spicewood Vineyards, Spicewood

The third wine opened was the Spicewood VIneyards 2022 Cabernet Franc, Dell Valley Vineyards. It showed elements of dried cherries, black cherries, stewed strawberries, black peppercorn, and a background of green herbal notes very common with Cabernet Franc as a varietal wine. 

Many know that winery owner Ron Yates is high on the Spainish grape variety Tempranillo. However, he said, “I’m also keen on getting grapes like this Cabernet Franc from west Texas. They are from Dell City Vineyard near El Paso. It is our first attempt making wine from Cabernet Franc.”

Yates mentioned what’s really cool is that they are working on getting a new AVA (American Viticultural Area) going out there and it might be next year. The name they are working with is “Hidden Waters” because there is so much water that comes down from the nearby mountains underground.

Dell Valley Vineyard, Dell City, TX, source of Spicewood’Vineyard’s Cabernet Franc

Yates admits having a passion for Spanish varieties including Tempranillo, Graciano and Carignan, but is really enjoying this Cabernet Franc. But, his Spicewood Vineyards is also recognized for its estate Sauvignon Blanc. 

Bending Branch Winery, Comfort

The last wine opened in the Zoom meeting was the Bending Branch Winery 2019 Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve, Newsom Vineyards. It is the second Bending Branch Reserve bottling of Cabernet from Newsom Vineyards, with notes of cranberry, raspberry, cherry, cocoa. This wine was presented by Jennifer Cernosek. 

I asked her the background story what qualified this wine as a Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon. She said, “There were two main differentiators: Longer aging and greater use of French oak than in our regular bottling. Not only did the 2019 Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve, Newsom Vineyards age longer in barrel, but it bottle-aged for over one year before we released it. The Cabernet Sauvignon has been so good, we really could not resist selecting the four best barrels to make a reserve bottling. The four barrels that were selected were comprised of two that went through Cryo-Maceration (freezing) and two that went through Cryo-Maceration followed by Flash Détente (rapid heating and cooling) to express for aroma and flavor components.

Many know Bending Branch Winery is the Tannat House of Texas and the crisp acidity in their Picpoul Blanc that contrasts the bold tannins in Tannat. The winery was co-founded in 2009 by Winemaker Bob Young, M.D., MPH, and his wife Brenda.

The award-winning wines of Bending Branch Winery

Additional information on these wineries, owners and winemakers:

Below you will find details on key people at these Texas Fine Wine wineries and how to follow the wineries on social media. Enjoy!

Pedernales Cellars: Co-owners and siblings Julie and David Kuhlken / Winemaker Joanna Wilczoch

FB: PedernalesCellars       IG: PedernalesCellars       Twitter: PedernalesWine

Duchman Family Winery: Owners Drs. Stan and Lisa Duchman / Winemaker Dave Reilly

FB: DuchmanFamilyWinery        IG: Duchman_Family_Winery

Spicewood Vineyards: Owner Ron Yates / Winemakers Reagan Sivadon and Joshua Fritsche

FB: SpicewoodWine       IG: SpicewoodVineyards       Twitter: SpicewoodWine

Bending Branch Winery: Co-Owner and Executive Winemaker Robert W. Young, MD, MPH

FB: BendingBranchWinery       IG: BendingBranchWinery       Twitter: BBranchWinery

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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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