2019 Artist Blend by William Chris Vineyards, Hye, Texas Hill Country.
47% Grenache, 32% Syrah, 15% Maurvedre, 6% Tannat.
Nose is all terroir up front with a dusty, clay-like leather. Hints of zest and cola. Touch of plum and dark cherry that slowly develop a subtle honey beeswax essence. A faint touch of herbal eucalyptus notes. As it opens up, a prominent smokey cocoa emerges.
Body is beautifully balanced. Greeting with a gentle acidic attack, dressed in a soft, silky mouth feel. This draws a nice subtle tension across a supple body. Notes of under-ripe dark cherry, plums are nicely complemented by a subtle buttery oak vanilla. Hints of banana peel and cola so faint you’d likely miss them. This whole melange slowly fades across the palate leaving behind a slowly intensifying grip and hint of spice.
What a gorgeous wine. This has to be one of the top 3 GSM blends I’ve had yet. Very nicely executed from its components down to their respective vineyards. Even in a side-by-side tasting against some of the top GSMs in my cellar, it really showcases the the high level of the winemaking program at William Chris. The work Chris and his team do cannot be overstated. Nicely done guys!
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Tonight’s Occasion: 2018 Mourvedre (Texas High Plains) by William Chris Vineyards, Hye, Texas Hill Country.
Slightly opaque color. Unfiltered. Out of the bottle bright ripe dark cherries and plum fill the air along with dusty dirt terroir. There’s a bit of a rocky somewhat granitic essence. Not sure if this is a play between dirt and fruit. It is quite pleasant, resulting in hints of red vines licorice. Swirling vigorously intensifies the nose very nicely. As it breathes, faint grassy notes along with cola emerge in the back.
The body is ushered in by a slightly acidic attack, immediately drawing good tension across the palate. A slightly silky body follows immediately. It is. Light if not somewhat restrained compared to most Mourvedre which tend to be on the big, heavy monolithic end of the spectrum. A good dose of oak complements and further accentuates the bright fruit in this otherwise fairly dry wine. A grassy old wood leather moves forward midway through. As the body fades it gives way to a bitter cola which lingers well past the finish. Tannins are fully integrated in the form of a fine dusty suspension that does not precipitate, slowly coating and rendering the lips parched. A touch of spice warmth punctuates the experience. Pairing with salami (cured meats) and tart cheeses really highlights the fruit and vanilla. Fun!
Mourvedre is a terroir driven varietal and this one is faithful. It feels raw, oddly familiar but at the same time different. Rich fruit notes, prominent terroir, light, tight if not firm. This winemaker offers a great glimpse into how this varietal expressed in this region. I now remember why this one stood out of their eye watering lineup of amazing wines. Nicely done Chris!
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Tonight’s Occasion: 2017 GSM (40% Grenache, 33% Syrah, 27% Mourvedre) by Robert Oatley, McLaren Vale, Australia.
Clear, bright Ruby color. Out of the bottle a nose full of terroir notes. A damp earthy turf dominates. Secondary notes of sweet cherries and ripe raspberries. A soft sweet woody essence lingers in the background. I’m not surprised by this expression. This region is known for other terroir driven/expressive varietals such as Pinot Noir, a blend of three highly terroir expressive varietals should shine like this.
Body is creamy, slightly viscous and weighted. Skipping introductions and greeting the palate with a gentle urgency and mid body expression. The whole package up front. The leather translates beautifully into the body and dominates. I don’t see this often. You typically smell the leather, but in this case you taste it. I really like this but I also realize some folks don’t care much for it. If you love a Chinon, Beaujolais or a faithful Cab Franc from Loire Valley, you will enjoy this GSM. Body quickly evaporates over the palate leaving behind faint hints of berries and whisps of refined caramel and spice so faint you’d likely miss it. A thin tannic structure remains along with subtle bitter cola. The lips swing between moist and dry until final settling on gentle dryness.
I have thoroughly enjoyed every wine I’ve had from McLaren Vale. This Winemaker’s wines are no exception. They are faithful, terroir driven. Clean crisp execution. They present a great opportunity for a look at this region for those of us on the other side of the Pacific Ocean and for that I am grateful. Great work Mates!
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Tonight’s occasion: 2017 Elle (Grenache, Mourvèdre, Cinsault) by Bumgarner, El Dorado, California.
Crisp nose is a little shy out of the bottle. First thing that hits you is a dry dusty granite with a hint of old weathered wood. Intertwined are hints of berry and faint vanilla. Swirl vigorously to unlock a burst of sweet cherries, more dusty leather and very distant mushrooms, you would easily miss.
Body is very nicely balanced front to back. It is mostly dry, subtle cherry carries forward, together with the wood notes and a sparing amount of oak, all conspire to create a slightly silky, lush mouth feel, moistening the palate. Thin crisp tannins provide great structure and grip. The granite, minerality, cherries and leather morph into a cola essence towards the back. This marks the transition to finish as a crisp dry tannic grip eventually triumphs over the experience, leaving your lips parched shut.
I previously reviewed the Fiona, a companion/sister wine to this one. I have followed this Winemaker for well over a decade. He is no stranger to big, bold, dark, dry, structured wines. However this wine is clearly an exercise in nuance and subtlety. I really like what he has done here. This is a very well built, high quality, understated wine.
To Brian and Jennifer Bumgarner, thank you for sharing your dreams and passion with us. Here’s to many more vintages.