Temptation by the Bottle: A Sparkling Wine from Eden Hill Vineyards
Chris Hornbaker, winemaker at Eden Hill Vineyard & Winery, said, “As you know, Eden Hill is dedicated to making wine from Texas grapes. We wanted to bring to our customers a sparkling wine that was uniquely Texan, a sparkling wine they could be proud to share with friends and be proud to say was grown and made right here in the state.”
As most Texas wine drinkers know by now, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, the traditional grapes used in the sparkling wines from the French region of Champagne, are hard to grow reliably in Texas. Texas is ain’t Burgundy, if you know what I mean. If a sparkling wine was going to be made at Eden Hill, they needed to search for more reliable and quality Texas grape.
Chris related, “We really owe the idea of a sparkling Roussanne wine to my mom, Linda. One day she said, ‘What about our Roussanne grapes?’. We had been making dry Roussanne still wine for several years, and Linda had always noticed it had full-bodied character like Chardonnay.”
Whereas Chardonnay’s lineage come from France’s Burgundy region, Roussanne appears to have originated in a Rhône wine growing region of France. Today, it is an important blending component in the wines of Crozes-Hermitage, Hermitage, and Saint-Joseph. In fact, in the French region of Saint-Péray, it is used for both still and sparkling wine production. A quick Google search also shows sparkling Roussannes are showing up in many new world regions like Washington State, even in Australia, and now evidently Texas.
Chris said, “We talked to our Roussanne grower, John Oswald, and we all agreed to take a chance. Texans aren’t shy about taking risks, right? Well, after we popped the cork and had a taste, that first bottle of our new sparkler was gone in minutes. This wine was just so tempting to reach for another glass. That’s how it got its name, “Temptation”.
You know, after just looking at the freshly poured glass of Eden Hill Temptation, I have to concur with Chris: it was tempting to the eyes and mind even before tasting. The color was hard to describe. I wrote down “coppery-blonde” and “Texas Prairie grass in a late summer sunset”. The wine was all cool and bubbly and actually quite appealing. Chris described this remarkable color as “light peach-gold” or a “light rosy-gold” and he feels it came from the grape skin contact given the wine.
A complex array of aromas and flavors exuded from this wine made for a tempting tasting experience, as well. Upon tasting, the sensory attributes I wrote down included apricot, Mandarin orange, tangerine, ginger, honeysuckle, and toasted almonds with lemon-citrus notes in the background (see my color rendition below). In my book, any wine with that many descriptors is complex and very likely to be a good one!
The aforementioned descriptors play well with the wine’s moderate sweetness gained from 2-3% residual sugar content that also plays off the wine’s crisp acidity and lower 13.1% alcohol. The food pairing options for this wine are amazing, and are perhaps as tempting as the wine itself. Pairings for this wine range from spicy Tex-Mex chicken enchiladas, to Thai green or yellow curries, to Indonesian satay, to Italian Cream cake. Or, you can make it very simple on yourself. Just pour a glass of this sparkling wine, put your feet up, and enjoy Temptation with a few cream filled chocolate truffles.
Chris also said, “This wine’s been such a success for us at the winery and at festivals that we are planning to dedicate a portion of our Roussanne crop to it each year. In the future, we will most likely add a dry sparkling Roussanne to the line up as well. We are constantly amazed at the versatility of the Roussanne grape in Texas.”
Chris also admitted that great wine starts with great grapes. That credit he again gave to John Oswald, their Roussanne grower in Brownfield in the Texas High Plains wine growing appellation (around Lubbock).
More information on Eden Hill Vineyards & Winery and this wine can be found online at www.edenhill.com. By the way, they will be launching their new Eden Hill eCommerce website in a few weeks. So, you want to taste Temptation but can’t make the drive up to the winery’s tasting room in Celina, you’ll be able to buy it from the wineries website.