2019 Artist Blend by William Chris Vineyards, Texas Hill County

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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2018 Mourvedre by William Chris Vineyards, Texas

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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2016 Cabernet Sauvignon by Newsom Vineyards, Texas Hill Country

Tonight’s Occasion: 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon (Texas High Plains) by Newsom Vineyards, Texas Hill Country.

Dark intense semi-opaque color. Nose is a little shy out of the bottle with slightly under-ripe plums and faint damp wood. Swirling vigorously unlocks an explosive intensity of licorice, a sweet cherry cola and root beer essence and hint of eucalyptus. Not surprised here at all. This milti-generational grower made a lasting impression on me when I visited their understated tasting room in Texas last year. Intense, powerful, terroir driven, old world style wines.

Body is bold as expected. Moderately acidic attack greets the palate, along with a viscous body. Under-ripe dark plums banana skins and spice follow closely. After breathing it softens a little. Fresh blueberries emerge. Body is bone dry, no nonsense, strickly business. This is the main show. You sip this slow. Oak is unnoticeable but for the way it enhances the fruit characteristics. The symphony of notes from the nose further intensify across the palate growing louder and louder until there is nothing left on the palate but a thin, crisp, dry tannic grip over smoldering spice.Oh boy. This is a Cabernet Sauvignon. This wine makes a statement. You can taste every part of the fruit that came from the vineyard. Great fidelity. It started with good grapes and was allowed to be itself. It feels unpretentious, un-manipulated. I recommend decanting for a bit. You may have to re-cork and explore the next day. I probably should have used my coravin because it clearly has many more years ahead of it. I’m taken back through vivid memories of my trip through Texas Wine country. Nicely done folks!

2017 Tannat by William + Chris Vineyards, Texas Hill Country

Tonight’s Occasion: 2017 Tannat (Hye Estate) by William + Chris Vineyards, Texas Hill Country.

Dark intense ruby color. Out of the bottle, nose is slightly restrained. This is a Tannat and as expected, that signature dry dark plum greets. This is followed closely by ripe blackberries. In the back, a buttery almost shortcake lingers interspersed with a smokey wood essence. First thing that comes to mind is “Texas Brisket!”. It’s a bit haunting in its expression. Swirling vigorously unleashes a veritable symphony of notes. Ripe dark cherries, more blackberries, a bold thick leathery essence, red vines licorice and dirt. … Oh Boy! The nose on this is AMAZING!!!

A creamy, slightly weighted viscous body greets the palate immediately. Little of the fruit carries forward other than some blackberry and black currants. A subtle bitter cola permeates. For a Tannat, it appears mild mannered at first blush. But as it breathes, dark, bold, dusty tannins start to dominate every aspect of the experience, providing a firm but loosely bound granular structure. Leather plays second fiddle. Finish?? I have no idea. Let’s ask the incessant, massive, dry, dusty tannic grip holding my parched lips shut. This is the show you came to see and you’d be foolhardy to expect anything else.

You don’t drink this wine. It drinks you. If you’re lucky, it won’t spit you out. This wine has so many years, perhaps even decades of vibrant life ahead of it. For as young as it is, it is very expressive and rich. I keep wondering what this Tannat would look like 10 years from now. This is a Gem. Get it now and forget about it. I’ll be expecting an invitation. To Chris and the entire crew at William Chris, nicely done folks!

My good friend and fellow Texan WineSnob, Jenn brought me a bottle of their Tempranillo this summer. Check out her guest review on WineSnob. After reviewing the William Chris Tempranillo on here I knew I absolutely had to visit this winemaker. not long after I was on my way to Austin, TX to explore wine country with Jenn. Our visit to William Chris did not disappoint. It exceeded my wildest expectations. The warmth, hospitality and shared enthusiasm for the art form, legacy, terroir and pride in craftsmanship was refreshing. We spent our entire day at the winery. I couldn’t have hoped for a better host than our Sommelier Francisco. He was a veritable wellspring of knowledge not just about the wines but the estate, winery, vineyards, their long history and the region at large. Oh, and the Charcuterie was to die for! Stay tuned for a WineSnob TV segment on my visit.

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2015 Merlot by Newsom Vineyards, Texas High Plains

Tonight’s Occasion: 2015 Merlot by Newsom Vineyards, Texas High Plains

Deep intense ruby color. Very shy nose with dry tart plum skins, a hint of honeycomb and licorice. A herbal eucalyptus note lingers in the background so faint you’d likely miss it.

Body is firm, crisp and bone dry. Tart plum skins carry over greeting the palate with a dry tension that holds firm. This tension rolls into a citrus/lime punctuated by a crisp, refined caramel. This marks the transition to finish characterized by a dry, slightly bitter blackberry and hint of red cherry. Firm, crisp tannins provide rock solid structure throughout. The palate is rendered dry of not parched.

This wine is a fine example of what can be accomplished with Merlot. It is a clean, classic, mature execution. While impeccable right now, it is nowhere near its peak. I recommend another 5 years at least. This is a Vineyard with a story. This is a a grower first before a winemaker. For generations this family has produced coveted grapes. While exploring Texas Hill Country, every winery I visited made wines with fruit from Newsom Vineyards. Their highly understated tasting room serves as a library and reference for what is truly possible. An enlightening educational experience.

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2017 Tempranillo by William Chris, Texas High Plains

Tonight’s Occasion: 2017 Tempranillo (Last Draw Vineyards) by William Chris, Texas High Plains

Dark, semi-opaque color appears unfiltered. Not surprising the nose greets with leathery essence of wet wood and damp fine almost loamy sand soil with hints of granite. Restrained plum skins submit to this terroir expression, almost becoming secondary. An unmistakable licorice is clearly secondary. Swirling vigorously unleashes a punch of licorice, slightly ripe dark cherries, spice and wet soil. Let it sit a moment and pick up a minty eucalyptus herbal essence. A banana peel lingers so faint you’d likely miss it. Impressive.

Body greets with a punch of acidity in the attack. Plums lazily roll in, bringing good balance and structure. Shortly after, ripe dark cherries and a touch of oak vanilla bring volume and a warm soft mouth feel. A spice heat then emerges to dominate the experience gradually intensifying through transition to finish. This has the effect of raising the heart rate and warming the chest. The palate is left under an endless rotation of tingling spice, firm tannic grip, bitter cola and slight palate watering effect likely due to minerality.

This is a powerful Tempranillo. Highly terroir driven. Bold in its expression. It feels a bit wild, untamed, pure, an exercise in fundamentals. This wine should keep the intermediate to advanced palate occupied for a while. Well done!

Thank you sharing this gem off the beaten path with me Jenn.

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2016 Tempranillo by Newsom Vineyards, Texas High Plains

Tonight’s Occasion: 2016 Tempranillo by Newsom Vineyards, Texas High Plains.

Dark, rich semi-opaque color. Firm nose with crisp tannins in the form of dry, slightly ripe plum and subtle licorice all wrapped in a slightly mineral leather. Swirling vigorously adds hints of cherry cola, more star anise and leather turns dusty, not unlike decomposed granite. This is somewhat reminiscent of the Sierra Foothills here in California, one of my favorite regions, albeit more restrained. Nice.

For a Tempranillo, the body is crisp, dry, restrained. It fairly mild mannered. Plum skins and gentle citrus greet the palate. It is balanced front to back. Tart plums and dark cherries provide a crisp, lean, restrained mouth feel over a firm but unobtrusive structure. Faint hints of licorice, citrus, vanilla and sand leather round out the body. This marks the transition to finish marked by a clean, crisp firm tannic grip and a fairly bold spice heat leaving the palate dry and lips parched shut.

This is a classy Tempranillo. Well executed. It is uncommon to see one this well behaved. It leaves me wondering how much of this expression is the winemaker and how much is the region and terroir. Fascinating. I look forward to learning more during my upcoming trip to TX. Nicely done!

Thank you for sharing Angela!

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2017 Malbec (Reserve – Tallent Vineyard) by Becker Vineyards

Tonight’s Occasion:  2017 Malbec (Reserve – Tallent Vineyard) by Becker Vineyards, Texas Hill Country.

Deep red semi opaque color. Bright nose with bright almost crisp berries, cherries and a touch of damp wood. Swirling vigorously unlocks a burst of sweet cherry cola, subtle red vines licorice, and more damp woody leather. As it breathes the damp wood turns dusty. Interesting. I’m used to Malbec being dark, opaque and having more of a plum expression. This nose reminds me of big Pinot from the Sonoma Coast. It’s actually fairly subtle for a Malbec.

Body greets with a slightly acidic attack. Tart cherries carry over, adding a crisp, fairly restrained tannic structure. Midway through a tropical note appears. The only thing that comes to mind is banana peel. It’s very subtle but unmistakable. It adds a buttery, softening characteristic to an otherwise fairly dry body. This slowly dissipates leaving behind an almost minty/herbal cola and a slightly moist palate as it all quickly fades away. A faint spice tingle lingers long after.

I don’t think I’ve seen Malbec this restrained before. It certainly is an interesting wine. It is well made and feels representative. I’m curious to know how much of this expression is due to location and how much is the Winemaker’s influence. I will have to explore their other wines to glean more insights.

TWO HOURS LATER: this Malbec comes to life with a firm dry massive tannic grip on the finish along with more pronounced minty bitter cola, star anise, and creamy tropical notes in the body. This Malbec definitely gets my recommendation. This is a must try!

Nicely done Becker!

2017 Texas GSM Melange by Pedernales Callars

Tonight’s occasion: 2017 Texas GSM Melange by Pedernales Callars, Stonewall, TX.

43% Maurvedre, 25% Grenache, 14% Cinsault, 10% Carignan, 4% Syrah, 4% Petite Sirah.

Intense clear color. Aromatic nose, out of the bottle with bright, sweet cherries, plums. A noticeable damp wood leather permeates the nose. It’s dominant Maurvedre underpinnings are well represented. A subtle licorice lingers in the back.

Oh the body is beautifully composed. A buttery and viscous attack greets the palate. That crisp Grenache influence makes an appearance. Cinsault and Carignan bring great woody notes and bright fruit while Maurvedre, Syrah and Petite Sirah fill out the base with good structure and cassis. As it opens up a subtle bitter cola emerges towards the back. Transition to finish is seamless as the various layers interplay harmoniously. Warm spice emerges midway though and lingers long after, warming the lips and back of the palate. The entire experience fades gracefully leaving the palate dancing between dry and moist, with a bitter cola after taste. As it opens a soft creamy caramel lingers in the back.

Okay. This is a very nice GSM. I’ve had my fair share of amazing GSM but I don’t think I’ve had one with such delineation between its constituent varietals – each very clear in their expression. This tells me each of them were very well made and would easily stand on their own. Now I’m curious. I think the folks at Pedernales are up to something.

Nicely done!

Check out other wines from Texas!

2018 Triptych (Dry Red Table Wine) by Saint Tryphon

Tonight’s occasion: 2018 Triptych (Dry Red Table Wine) by Saint Tryphon, Boerne, Texas.

Big bright cherries and damp forest floor dominate the nose. Are we in Texas? Hints of oak, honeysuckle and other floral notes intermingle.

Body is nicely balanced. Cherries carry through, adding a touch of plum as it opens up. Thin tannins provide a touch of structure. Berries and subtle oak create a full mouth feel, reminiscent of a Zinfandel. As it progresses, fruit notes become more prominent. Subtle spice notes become more intense as they turn into a warm ever present heat. Finish is fairly dry with a subtle tannic grip.

This is my first time tasting a wine from Texas. It is a simple wine, well made, not overly abstract, a pleaser with broad appeal. Somewhat fruit forward overall. I can see this particular wine as a chill-able red porch pounder. It is fairly dry for as expressive as its fruit characteristics are. If this is any indication, I think I should get my boots on the ground in TX and dig deeper.

Nice work Saint Tryphon. Thank you Angela for sharing your favorite wines with us.