2014 Top Texas Wines that Titillated My Taste Buds List (Part 2)
Well, I think that we’re about half way through my list. Memories keep popping-up and neurons flashing in my brain that keep reminding me of the wonderful Texas wine experiences that I’ve had this year. This has also call to my attention how fortunate we’ve been to have great “Vintage of the Century” years like 2010 and 2012. They have helped us collectively (both producers and consumers) in the aftermath of the incredible difficult vintages of 2011 (fire, heat and drought) and 2013 (multiple late spring freezes). Most of the white wines we have to enjoy currently are not from 2013 but from 2012.
One of my stops earlier this year was in Plains, Texas, to attend Newsom Vineyards 2014 Grape Day. Thinking back, I’m thankful for being able to attend this year’s event where I had the opportunity to meet new growers and re-establish connections with those I’ve known for years, now a decade or more. Most of all, it presented the opportunity to taste a few wines that I likely wouldn’t have had the occasion to taste. Two notables, both Roussannes, are presented together to start off the second half of this year’s “Notables” list.
The first Roussanne came courtesy of Howard Davies who presented winemaker-son Grayson’s Arché Winery 2012 Roussanne, fresh from its platinum award at the San Diego International Wine Competition. I caught a taste before the bottle was emptied. This Roussanne proved its mettle; vivid and rich nutty and lemon citrus aromas, great acidity balancing the grape’s viscous feel and gave attendees a taste of its Saint Jo Red River Valley heritage. The other was the 2013 Roussanne (Oswald Vineyard) with ripe lemon citrus and tropical pineapple carrying an overlay of nutty nuances and a silky mouthfeel. Please stop and think for a minute: this white grape could be destine for true Texas stardom (even more so that our state’s current favored white – Viognier. Every year a new one and a good one seem to appear as if by magic. But, in my opinion, it’s not magic, it’s destiny.
Pedernales Cellars 2012 Reserve Tempranillo
This wine has gained so many accolades that my first thought was wine bother included in my 2014 list. However, this IS a very special wine. Once to taste the Pedernales Cellars 2012 Reserve Tempranillo you know that it’s worthy of every bit of praise it has received. My taste came during my 2014 VintageTexas Tempranillo Day tasting shared with family and friends in Houston. The good thing about truly great wines is that they require few words. All I will say is that this Tempranillo was artfully made David Kuhlken and highlights dark cherry, earthy minerals, truffle, tobacco with firm tannins and a smooth lengthy finish. If you can still find this wine, or at least beg a taste or two, get as much as you can and it will please (either in your mind or cellar) for years to come.
Fall Creek Vineyards 2013 Sauvignon Blanc (Texas)
The Fall Creek Vineyards 2013 Sauvignon Blanc came to my glass during a tasting of Texas wines held at the Red Room Lounge in Austin. It was poured by the hand of the Fall Creek winemaker, Sergio Cuadra, and I was asked to taste it blind. The wine had such floral elegance in the glass that my first reaction was that it had characteristics that I’d only experienced in Viognier or Muscat, but this wine was much lighter bodied and brought an underlying note of green grass. Even after Cuadra told me that it was made from Sauvignon Blanc grown at Mesa Vineyards near Fort Stockton, I retorted something like “And, you blended in some Viognier or Muscat, right?”. Wrong! This wine is pure unadulterated Texas Sauvignon Blanc and, as far as I’m concerned, at its all-time best. You might still find some of this wine around at Spec’s or other wine shop.
Kiepersol Estate 2012 Stainless Syrah (Texas) No Oak
While at Kiepersol Estate for the release of their new grape-based vodka called Dirk’s Vodka, I came in early and had a chance to taste several of winemaker Marnelle Durret’s wines, some in bottle and some still in barrel and some bottled but not released. One thing that always is of interest to me at Kiepersol is what a great job they do with Syrah. Sometime it’s in their featured release of Barrel 33 and other times it’s their Estate barrel aged Syrah. But, this year it was their Stainless Syrah. It is amazing how extracted, dark, intense and grippy this Syrah is on the palate. In addition, it has an amazingly sense of terroir that I’ve come to associate with this estate vineyard. Add to this, clean aromatics of wild cherry, strong Earl Grey tea and a finish of a good char on BBQ beef brisket. If I’ve made you hungry for this wine, great…go for it!
Haak Vineyards and Winery, 2008 Madeira Blanc Du Bois
While I believe the current vintage of the Haak Madeira Blanc Du Bois offered at the winery in Santa Fe, Texas, is 2011 or 2012, I found this bottle of the 2010 vintage on the shelf at Spec’s in Houston. I had no fear as Madeira, by virtue of its method of extended Estufagem barrel aging at 105 F, is the most stable-for-the-long-haul wine you will find anywhere in the world. However, the things that make this wine worthy of distinction are the elements of the tasting experience this process produces: concentrated dried apricot, caramel toffee, countered with notes of Asian tea and lemon-tangerine citrus. I’m sure that the 2011 or 2012 will be similar as these are produced by what happens to Blanc Du Bois by this unique aging process. Also, recommended is the equally good Haak Madeira Jacquez that provides a more classic Madeira wine with intense walnut and hazelnut notes along with a hint of salty sea air. These wines are perpetual gold medal winners where ever they go and are a unique Texas product to share is others. I think that I will again tonight!
The downside of this type of list is that they could and should go further than the limited number of wines presented. Secondly, not all of these wines are still available, but please check your local supermarket, wine shop, Spec’s or even at the winery. I’ve sometimes been surprised what shows up long after the words “Not Available” are spoken. Also, if not available locally, in most cases, Texas wineries can, in most cases, ship their wines right to your doorstep or to your drop ship location (Mine is a friendly wig salon near my house that has an adult to sign for the shipment five days a week).
I hope you find the Texas wines you want for your holiday and year-end festivities. Please drink in moderation, plan for designated drivers when and if needed, and celebrate well with family and friends at this wonderful joyous time of year.
Drink well, my friends.
Russ Kane, Doc Russ Texas Wineslinger.