Whoa, it’s hot. In Houston, its hot and sweaty and, in the hill country, its just plain simple variety hot. I can’t seem to get away from it, except by staying inside and seeking refuge with a glass of white wine. In this case, two glasses of wine are better than one, don’t you think?
With one tasting stop today, we are bringing two Texas Fine Wines together, something from the eastern side of the Texas Hill Country along with something from its more southernly side while bringing in a bit of a diurnal evening coolness from the still more northern Texas High Plains. That may seem like an unlikely mouthful, but mouthfuls it is (of wine that is) from both Duchman Family Winery in Driftwood and Bending Branch Winery in Comfort.
For starters, engage your mind as you might on a westerly drive from Austin or, just as well, from Houston or a northerly drive from San Antonio. As you encounter the eroded limestone edge of the Edward Plateau, Duchman Family Winery is in your sights offering an inviting Italian villa design.
The Duchman Family Winery was founded in 2004 by Drs. Lisa and Stan Duchman in a quest to bring world-class winemaking and home-grown Italian-styled wines to Central Texas and the Texas Hill Country. Over the years, the Duchmans and winemaker Dave Reilly, have worked with growers in the Texas High Plains AVA to produce wines like Vermentino, Sangiovese, and Dolcetto. But, here we will focus on a different grape variety and its wine that rarely get the respect they’re due.
Duchman Family Winery, 2019 Trebbiano, Bingham Family Vineyard, Texas – In Texas, Trebbiano gains body and ripeness rarely if ever exposed in the grape’s native regions of Italy, while retaining excellent acidity and freshness. This wine offers notes of lime/orange citrus and light tropical mango highlights with creamy lemon bunt cake (but without the sugar) on the palate, and bright crisp acidity through to the finish. It is destine to please you just like it did the wine judges in the 2020 San Fransisco Chronicle Wine Competition where it garnered a Double Gold medal.
Our second stop is at Bending Branch Winery. To get there, from San Antonio, its simply northwestward on I-10 to Comfort then off a few side roads. From Houston, it’s I-10 for starters but with an optional path that worms around to the north of the ever-expanding San Antonio on either Route 46 or around Loop 1604 to Boerne; in either case, we get back on I-10 to Comfort. As we exit the main road and drive through Comfort and beyong, we see another splendor of the Texas Hill Country. As you pass the towering cypress trees on the banks of Guadalupe River, you know you are heading the right direction to Bending Branch Winery.
Finally, as we round the bend on Lindner Branch Trail, on the left we see the stately but simple homestead of Dr. Robert Young and his wife Brenda, the tasting room and its inviting patio enveloped in the shade from lovely live oak trees. Look a bit farther up the hill and find a place to share a glass of wine and view their estate vineyard. While Bending Branch is perhaps known for its big bold red like Tannat and Petite Sirah, on this stop, we are anticipating a sip of Bending Branch Winery’s signature white wine.
Bending Branch Winery, 2021 Picpoul Blanc, Texas High Plains – This white wine is derived from the Picpoul Blanc grape of the Rhone Valley in France but grown in Texas. It is brilliant and complex with refreshing fruit and mouthwatering acidity. Aromas freshly cut peaches and pears bring flavors of lemon, pineapple, and apricot, combined at mid-palate with brioche making for a jubilant summer sipper. This vintage follows the legacy of the 2018 and 2019 vintages where Bending Branch’s Picpoul Blanc brought home a Silver Medal in the Lone Star International Wine Competition, and a Gold Medals in the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition.
Well, I’ve given you two very “cool” wines to ramp down the thermal fatigue of your Summer of 2022. Right now, it doesn’t seem like the super-hot Texas weather is going to be giving us a break any time soon. So, be proactive and cool yourself down, sip one or both of these wines and enjoy!
Photo credits: Duchman FamilyWinery, Bending Branch Winery, VintageTexas.com