Hannibal Would be Proud: Texas Tuesday

“I love it when a plan comes together.”  If you are an 80’s kid, you surely recognize that as the catchphrase of John “Hannibal” Smith, fearless leader of the A-team.  Oh, you thought I meant the Punic Carthaginian military commander?  Well, if he liked wine I guess he would be proud.  For future reference, you are safe assuming I am alluding to mindless pop-culture rather that ancient military strategists.  Anyway, back to the plan.

We had plans to go camp for a friend’s 40th birthday but a health hiccup for our black lab meant that we couldn’t leave her overnight and couldn’t go camping.  But we could get out of the house in the afternoon for a couple of hours of marriage maintenance.  A beautiful winter day means one activity (ok, any day) has my vote: heading out to the wine country.

This is the part in the A-team when each character starts throwing out crazy ideas which require Face to smooth talk someone while they drug B.A so Murdoch can fly them into the middle of the chaos.  Fortunately for us, it only required an email, two phone calls, and a quick shower to get an appointment, my favorite mom here, and out the door in 40 minutes. I guess that is kind of A-team comparable when you have little ones.

On the drive I was able to do some reading about Kuhlman Cellars and the people behind it.

Wine is a product born of love, passion and intense labor.  It should be enjoyed with the same emotional vigor.  At Kuhlman Cellars, we strive to appreciate what brings richness to our lives: Family, Food, Friends and Fellowship. Our tasting room was carefully designed to include every guest in our personal wine journey with education about our process from a knowledgeable guide, an intimate view of our working winery and Sommelier & Chef prepared cuisine carefully paired with each wine.

I had a feeling this was going to be my kind of tasting experience.  We arrived at Kuhlman Cellars with five minutes to spare, ready to taste the wine I’d been hearing so much about. Although the winery has only been open for two months, the Cobb family is not new to the wine industry, previously managing a Hill Country vineyard. Together with winemaker Bénédicte Rhyne, Chris and Jennifer Cobb are creating wines in an Old-World style with Texas flair.  Many of the wines are made with Texas fruit, the blends and the winery are given Texas geological names. Kuhlman Creek runs through the family property and eventually joins the Pedernales River.

My husband and I immediately noticed the ingenuity and design behind the Tasting room.  The bars are mobile, industrial and yet warm.  Two formations create a sit-down tasting experience for you and a few of your closest, or newest friends.  Each guest is given a tasting sheet, enough stemware for the flight, and an appetizer plate with the chef-inspired bites.

Sommelier Jeremy Wilson was our host for the tasting.  With each wine we were given information about the vineyard, the production techniques, and the thoughts behind the pairings.  Our group for the tasting included wine lovers with a wide variety of experience and Jeremy catered to each guest.  We even were treated to a barrel tasting.  Here are my top three:

The first wine was a 2013 Texas Sauvignon Blanc.  Yes, you read that correctly.  The grapes were from Mesa Vineyard in Fort Stockton.  The wine, not surprisingly, was more French in style.  Very classic notes, well-balanced and refreshing. Tart fruit, some grassy notes, gooseberry. This was paired with a cracker with smoked salmon and caper to play off the acid.

The third wine we tasted was Rousanne.  You are seeing more of this Rhone variety in Texas and I expect that trend to continue.  A weighty white with stone fruit and rich texture even when done in stainless.  This is a perennial favorite for Thanksgiving. Paired with a bite of bleu cheese and fig it was divine.

My favorite was the 2012 Texas Red.  A Texas take on a Bordeaux blend, this wine is 49% Merlot, 15% Cabernet Sauvignon.  Both are sourced from the High Plains.  With the addition of Carignan, Cab Franc, and Grenache you get the depth of flavor while remaining medium bodied.  Red fruit, violet, a little spice, a little anise, a lot of yum.  We brought home two of these.

As a bonus, Jeremy brought out a barrel sample of the Texas (yes, Texas) Zinfandel that wasn’t ready but was delicious.  This wine is jam-packed with flavors, none of which include jam.  I can’t wait to taste the finished product.

Family, Food, Friends and Fellowship.  Those are the driving principles at Kuhlman Cellars and they put those into practice.  Although I had never met Chris Cobb, and Jeremy and Jennifer Beckman only once in person, they made us feel like family.  Food and wine shared with friends is the best kind of fellowship.

We left with four bottles of wine and big smiles.  We left excited to open a bottle at home and create our own pairings and we left saying that we love it when a plan comes together.

Thank you, Kuhlman Cellars, for fitting us in and for what we both agreed was the catalyst to one of the best dates we’ve had in a long time.  I’ll always drink to that!

{I am embarrassed to say that we were having so much fun that I totally forgot to take pictures!  Some blogger I am. I guess I’ll have to go back and remedy that.}

 

 

 

 

My Achilles’ Heel-William Chris Enchanté

There have been a few moments in life that I have surprised myself with my own strength. Hiking the Na Pali coast, natural childbirth (x2), and the Dr. Junger Clean Gut diet that I have been doing for the past 14 days. No coffee, alcohol, grains, sugar, fruit, or fun. I resisted pizza (x2), cut an Italian cream cake without a lick. I made apple crumb pie and while others oohed and aahed, I had raspberries with almond meal. We held dinner parties, a football party. Nothing swayed me. But last night I crumbled. My Achilles’ heel, it turns out, is William Chris Enchanté.

I would say that I’d had a perfect track record until last night, but that wouldn’t be the case. I went to both the pick up party and industry party at William Chris last week. I had the tiniest of tastes, then dumped or shared, except for the Enchanté. I couldn’t resist; no dumping for this gem.  But honestly, that’s some dang good will-power.

IMG_4404Then last night, we made a belated birthday dinner for my father-in-law who is visiting from Sonoma. My husband and I teamed up to make something delicious that I could eat without cheating. We decided on grilled lamb chops with rosemary. For sides I made acorn squash with braised balsamic leeks and a kale salad which I massaged with avocado, garlic, lemon juice and salt. I was home free. Until my husband asked me to pick the wine.

I tried to pick something I wouldn’t mind missing, but it was staring at me. I knew it would be perfect. Merlot, Cab, Malbec, Petite Verdot. The acid, bright cherry, subtle tannins. It was too much. And I knew that if I opened it, I would not be able to resist.

So I did what any Texas-wine loving, soft-spined woman would do. I listened to my “gut” (ha,ha) and declared it Splurge Sunday. And I’m so glad I did.

It was honestly one of the best pairings I’ve had in a long time. Each dish brought out a different nuance in the wine. A bite of acorn squash brought out subtle notes of baking spice. The lamb complimented the earthy Malbec notes. After the kale, the bright red cherry notes shined.

It’s not easy to impress my Sonoma father-in-law but the 2013 William Chris Enchanté did just that. How impressed was he? Well, I am writing this from the back seat on our way out there. Well done, gentleman. You made a believer out of him and broke my will. But it was well worth it. I may have to create my own “cleanse” that allows wine in moderation.  The question is, do I pretend it never happened and continue to day 21?  Or just avoid everything but wine on the weekends?  I’ll be pondering that, but in the meantime, I’ll be planning my Texas Wine Month post-cleanse splurge. Cheers, y’all!

 

South A. Welcomes South A.

20131029-102802.jpgA few weeks ago I told you about a South African Pinotage that I blew my socks off. It was my first piece for Wine Savvy so you may have missed it but the experience whet my appetite for South African wines. This past Sunday, Wines of South Africa held a Braai and wine tasting to benefit the Amala Foundation. Held in the new venue, Vuka, in South Austin, the atmosphere was friendly and casual, approachable and diverse, just like the wines.

The organization is currently doing a US tour to showcase the wines and the changes being made in the industry, socially and environmentally. There were about 25 wines being poured and a few stations with nibbles: ostrich burgers, chicken skewers, etc. Because I was there on a mission, I only tried a little of the food, but what I tried was tasty. I had more important things to taste.

I had sampled some of the wines at previous events so I tried to stick to the new labels. I came away with two clear favorites. The main varieties being poured were Chenin and Sauvignon Blanc, Syrah, and Pinotage with a few classics thrown in. If you are one that sticks with what you know, I would recommend checking out the Passages label. They were pouring a Chardonnay, a Merlot, and a Cab/Merlot blend. I preferred the bookends in the list but they were all good values around $15.

If you are adventurous, I highly recommend the Bellingham wines. The two being poured were very different, in every way, but my two favorites of the day. The Bellingham Citrus Grove Chenin Blanc was a great value at about $12. Bright citrus, tropical notes, easy drinking. The Bellingham Bernard Series SMV was a beautiful blend of Syrah and Mourvedre, softened with Viognier. Really versatile and smooth with floral red fruits and enough spice to give it weight. It could easily be quaffed alone or with a variety of foods. At $30 it is one of the higher end wines, but worth it. Both wines are available at Whole Foods.

If you are looking for some others to try, I also enjoyed the Stellar Organics Pinotage and Extra Dry Sparkling, both ridiculous values at $11. Also, check out the Mulderbosch Rose and Sauvignon Blanc. Tasty.

Usually at wine events I see a few people I know. These were new faces. These were happy faces. The wines of South Africa may not be well-known yet, but I see that changing. The quality for the price point is attractive, especially for those just experimenting with wines. The wines were easy to drink and easy to share. I’ll always drink to that. Cheers!

Trends, Schmends-I never gave up on you, Merlot (Repost for #merlotme)

In the wine-loving Social Media world, today is #Merlotme day.  A day set apart to honor the movie-maligned grape.  I’ve always been a fan.  This piece, written almost two years ago, was part of my personal assertion that I would not be dissuaded.  Shortly after, Gundlach Bundschu produced one of the best wine videos I’ve seen to declare their love.  The grape is on the upswing.  Today is further evidence.  So go ahead.  Open your favorite Merlot and tweet, loud and proud, using the hashtag #merlotme.  Cheers!

I’ll admit it.   I have fallen victim to many a trend, especially in my 20s.  The wishy-washy years where you virtually swing from trend to trend.  If I could have all of the money back that I spent on clothes worn once, I could have a lovely wine “closet.”  (Yes, no cellar for this Texan, closet)  In fact, if I had just saved on all of the trends and bought something classic and lovely, I would still be wearing it.  Something classic and lovely, just like a Merlot.

When I first began drinking wine, I can recall more than a few gasps when I admitted to preferring Merlot to Cab.  In general, if forced to pick, I chose Merlot.  I get it.  It is hard to beat a Cab (Franc or Sauvignon) with a steak.  I won’t argue that.  But, for versatility-appetizer through dessert-I would choose Merlot.  The men in my life rarely agreed, but that was okay.  I liked the round, juicy fruit of a Merlot.  I remember feeling like I was “wrong,” but for a people-pleaser, it was a baby-step of self-assertion I was willing to take.

Bob Ecker wrote a great piece in Thursday’s Napa Valley Register, “After being slammed by Hollywood, Merlot is getting its due again.”  He had me at “Merlot” but I was sold when he gave props to one of my favorites, Gundlach Bundschu.  After taking a whooping from the Pinot-loving Sideways film, the much defamed grape is back.  Well, it never left.  Those who do it well, just maintained, or improved, and have been waiting patiently.

There is a beauty in aging.  We settle into our own and give a more well-rounded representation of who we are.  We lose our harsh edges (hopefully) and become unapoligettically unique.  We are not as easily swayed by the trends of the moment and more likely to speak boldly about who we are.  As long as we are properly corked (at times, ahem) and given the proper care, age does wonders. Like a fine wine; like a fine Merlot.

Greatest Hits of 2012

At the end of the year, WordPress sent me a summary of my year.  Sort of a year in review for the writer.  How many visitors, which posts were the most viewed, et cetera.  They invite you to share the information with your readers.  At first, I thought, “How Silly.  That is like Justin Bieber releasing a Greatest Hits.”  After all, I’ve only just begun (I hope you heard Karen Carpenter just then).  But then I looked at my top five posts from the year and I thought, “Yes, that is a pretty good cross-section of what I have done.”  So I am sharing it with a little back story.  Think of it as a pathetic version of Storytellers.  Cheers!

1 “Hey Girl…I love SAHMs” October 2012

Don’t you love new friends?  Especially those that share your affinity for all things Gosling?  And can make you laugh out loud with a text?  And inspire silly posts?  Me too.  It is no wonder this got a lot of views.  He’s impossible to resist. 

2 Grief and Gratitude  September 2012

I was due to write a new post, but it was September 11th, and I could not write about anything but.  I asked a group of ladies that write about wine if it was okay to venture outside that box.  With their encouragement, I did so.  This is my tribute to a dear, dear friend.

3 OTBN- A Gift from Gundlach Bundschu  February 2012

The first piece of writing I ever put out publicly was a 3rd place poem for a poetry contest at Gundlach Bundschu.  The second piece took first.  It was their encouragement that inspired me to write.  This was a post in which I “shared” the 1997 Cab Franc I received as a prize with my readers.

4 Trends, Schmends-I never gave up on you, Merlot January 2012 

If you have read for very long at all, you know that it is not uncommon to get a hint of psychology in the front and some introspection in the finish.  In Vino Veritas.

5 Molto Bene, Y’all  April 2012

I have loved, loved, loved getting involved in the Texas wine scene.  So many great things being produced, so many great people, and still so much to learn.  Thank you for welcoming me in and for your generous spirits.  This is a piece on a local winery that I grow more fond of with each visit.

So, there you have it.  A little personal stuff, a little humor, a lot of wine.  Some paired, some shared.  Yes, this is a blog about wine, but it is really so much more to me.  Thank you for reading and giving me a place to share, to grow, to learn.

Three “Wines-men”

I could tell you about a few of my picks for the holiday season, and I probably will at some point.  But I thought it would be a little more interesting to hear from those who know just a little more about Texas wines than I do.  I elicited help from three fabulous Texas wine makers to tell you which Texas wine they might be pouring this holiday season and the pairings they would choose.  The catch?  It had to be someone else’s wine.

Dave Reilly has been getting a lot of attention as the winemaker for Duchman Winery.  And with good reason.  Just this year his wines has received several awards and three spots on the Jessica Dupuy’s Top Texas Wines list.  What Texas wine would he pour?  A Roussanne.  He thinks that it is one of the most interesting grapes being produced in the state. 

Although he didn’t name a specific producer, I have had lovely Roussannes from both Cap*Rock Winery and McPherson Cellars.  The McPherson Reserve Roussanne was on Russ Kane’s list of his favorite Texas whites of 2012 and Jessica Dupuy included a Roussanne from Perissos Vineyards on her list.  Promising, indeed.  The traditional pairings are seafood and buttery dishes.  You could also pair with poultry.  Doing a Christmas turkey?  This would be lovely.  Especially with a chestnut stuffing or with butternut squash to bring out the nutty flavors in the wine.

Tim Drake made the move to Texas from Washington in 2010 because he and his family saw that something special was going on in the Texas wine industry.  He joined Flat Creek Estate in 2011 and we are just now seeing the first of his whites.  If the 2011 and 2012 barrel sample of Viognier are any indication, we are in for a whole lot of special.  And if his pairings are any indication, I’ll be asking for an invitation to dinner. 

Tim chose William Chris Merlot paired with a Demi-Glace Veal Chops served with Gorgonzola Risotto and sautéed green beans.  Yes, please.  William Chris is located in Hye, Texas and they produce some incredible wines.  I have a bottle of Enchante that I have been saving for the holidays, so you’ll hear more about them in the near future.

Kim McPherson of McPherson Cellars knows a thing or two about wine.  In fact, he is kind of wine royalty here in Texas.  His father, “Doc” McPherson, was one of the fore-fathers of the Texas wine industry and Kim has continued the elevation of Texas viticulture.  His wines have received over 450 awards.  So what would he choose? 

A peek at either Jessica or Russ’ list will tell you that Tempranillo does very well here.  Kim agreees.  He chose Pedernales Cellars Tempranillo with a Hanger Steak made in a Spanish style.  That shouldn’t be a problem since his wife, Sylvia, owns La Diosa Cellars.  Think Romesco sauce, rubs with herbs and paprika.  Smoky, spicy, with some lime juice for acid.  Serve with polenta or fingerling potatoes.  Maybe some greens with roasted peppers?  Yum.

Although most of these specific wines are not available nationwide, these pairings are great inspiration no matter what state you call home.  And great inspiration to visit us here in Texas.  Thank you to all of the winemakers who helped me in writing this.  You are doing amazing things.  Merry Christmas and happy pairing!

Time to Breathe

There are some evenings that just require a little more self-care than others.  After a tough conversation with your boss,  the day your dog ate your favorite boots, the Monday after Thanksgiving.  Or any day with a three-year old tornado.  This evening, I needed a little something extra. So while my husband has my daughter out for a date, I opened a sample I have been looking forward to, a 2010 Wild Horse Merlot.

After a couple disappointing reds this past weekend, I knew good old Merlot would not let me down.  The winemaker suggested a hearty Marinara or braised beef for pairing, so I knew I was taking a risk opening it with my dinner of cheese and crackers.  But I guess I was feeling a little “wild”.   

Baked berries, cedar, and a bit of spice on the nose.  My first sip told me that the wine lived up to its name.  With some time in the bottle, this wine would mellow and turn into something special.  (If you only knew all the horse puns I resisted here.)  For tonight, the best I could do was give it some time to breathe.  I know how that feels.

After about thirty minutes, I tried it again.  Red fruit with a backbone.  Bright cherry, round plum.  Classic Merlot and just was I was looking for tonight.  The spice and cedar added depth and balance.  Sometimes a wine just needs some time to relax into itself.  A little air, a little time, a little space.  Amen. 

It is no wonder why Paso Robles is getting so much attention.  I would love to see where this wine is going.  I know where I am going.  To my couch, with a remote, and a glass of  Wild Horse Merlot.  I promise I’ll be much more enjoyable in thirty minutes.

*{Disclosure: I was provided with this wine from PR Firm, Folsom & Associates. All statements and opinions expressed in this article are my own.}

A Happy Mother’s Day-Westcave Cellars

I woke up this morning to my husband doing dishes.  That might be the sweetest sound I can hear.  On Mother’s Day, I generally ask for one thing: no dishes.  When you are a SAHM that cooks three meals a day, at least six days a week, dishes become your nemesis.  This year, my husband has really knocked it out of the park: no dishes, a trip to see my best friend who will be visiting Chicago from France, AND a Saturday jaunt to a Hill Country Winery.  Doesn’t get much better than that for me.  If your favorite Mother is a wine lover, pack a picnic, and head out to one of your local wineries.  

Yesterday, we added a new favorite to the growing list.  I have been wanting to make it out to Westcave Cellars Winery for months.  I first read about it in March, but on the day we were planning on going, it was their Wine Club Member party, so we knew that it wouldn’t be the best day to chat with Margaret and Allan Fetty.  I waited patiently for an opportunity to head out west, on Hamilton Pool Road, and it was worth the wait.  The property is 65 acres, including over 8 acres of grapes.   Many of the grapes they use are estate grown.  They began their journey in 1999, growing Cabernet grapes to sell to other wineries.  Fortunately for us, they decided to enter the wine-making aspect, as well, and are producing some lovely wines.

We started with the Muscat Blanc.  A beautiful nose on this wine.  Sweet flowers and tropical fruit.  This is a delicious wine with hints of honeydew, dry tropical notes, and a long smooth finish.  We moved to the Viogniers.  From the Estate Viognier, I got a lot of honey on the nose and some green fruit, fig maybe?  Drier than expected, there was a lot of citrus, tropical fruit, and a clean finish.  In the High Plains Viognier, I noted green apple and lemon and a really interesting notes of caramel in the nose and the finish.

The Merlot is held in French Oak for 12 months.  It has a smoky, berry nose and tons of Bing cherry with a hint of spice.  A bit dry, but smooth with a super long finish.  The 2010 High Plains Cab was super tasty.  Allan told us he was really into aroma and it shows.  Lush, rich fruit, not too heavy on the tannins.  There is even a hint of watermelon with the plum, cherry, and berry.  It is rare for me to find a Cab that has this depth, but that I could still enjoy without food.  This is a winner in my book.  The Estate Cab was even richer.  Ripe, bright fruit, a huge mid-palate, balanced and juicy.  Delicious.

Westcave also does two sweeter wines: a White Merlot (2% residual sugar) and a White Zinfandel (3%).  If White Zin makes you think of a sweet, flat $7 bottle you drank in the 90s, think again.  The White Merlot was new to me.  The 2010 had notes of strawberries and roses.  The White Zinfandel had a crabapple nose.  If you aren’t familiar with this northern fruit, think cranberries and apples blended. A nice spicy honey finish.  Much more complex than I would have imagined.  Oscar, our host for the day, was able to let me taste the 2011 White Merlot that is ready to bottle.  Wow.  Like the perfect Rosé in my book.  Clean, pretty fruit, enough crisp to wake up your mouth, and great body.  I look forward to being able to buy a bottle and sit out in the vineyards.

After tasting, there is a lovely seating area with room for the littles to run, right next to the vines.  The setting is dreamy and the hospitality is top notch.  Margaret, Allan, and Oscar could not have been nicer.  They are all gifted and knowledgeable and I look forward to my next visit when I can really focus and learn from them.  Somehow that was a little challenging with my cherubs in tow.  It just gives me an excuse to go back.  

If you are here in Austin, and have not made plans to spoil your favorite mother today, head west.  If you have already discovered Westcave and want some other ideas, check out some other local favorites.:

Driftwood Estate Winery

Salt Lick Cellars

Duchman Winery (They are doing brunch this weekend, too!) 

Solaro Estate Winery

Spicewood Vineyards

 Happy Mother’s Day!

Another Victory for Wellington

My Brother-in-law is in town this weekend, which always means that we will be eating well.  Since we were celebrating his birthday, we chose to open something fabulous: a 2005 Wellington Victory Reserve.  This is a super special bottle of wine.  Wellington Vineyards has only done six Reserves in the last seventeen years.  They only do so when they can make a blend they deem “markedly superior” to the single varietal Cab or Merlots.  This 2005 flagship wine is composed of 70%Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Petit Verdot, and 10%Merlot.

The boys in my husband’s family like their meat, so we had Filet Mignon with mushrooms which I sautéed with garlic, thyme, a splash of wine, and I poured the meat drippings in the pan at the end.  I made a pretty classic Caesar dressing (sans anchovies) and mashed potatoes.  Nothing fancy, a typical “man” meal in this house.  The wine paired really nicely with the meal.

On the nose, I got blueberry, cassis, cedar, and spice.  A lot going on.  We chose to aerate it since it was so big and not too old.  Huge muddled fruit on the front. I got blackberry, blueberry, and spicy wood- cedar or eucalyptus?  Softer notes like vanilla and violet came through in finish.  My BIL described it as “fat daddy” and my husband said a “banker.”  This wine is not shy.  And neither was I when my glass was empty.  Want to share those last sips with me, honey?  (Insert eye batting) Delicious.

We just received the 2006 Victory Reserve which is a different blend altogether.  Cab Sauvignon, Cab Franc, Merlot, Malbec, and Petit Verdot.  They say it is their best yet.  And we are supposed to cellar it?  That will be tough.  It is definitely a special occasion wine at $50.00, but worth every bit.  As usual, Wellington wines are a value no matter what the price point.  Another Victory for Wellington Vineyard.

A Sunny Saturday at Solaro

It is hard to beat Austin in March.  The Mountain Laurels, with their grape scented clusters, are in full bloom.  The landscape is painted with every green you can imagine.  The sky, cerulean and vast, illuminates the rebirth.  It is almost criminal to stay inside.  So when my parents offered us a date this past weekend, there was only one thing on my mind- a Hill Country Winery.

There are several wineries within a thirty minute drive of Austin, and I have hit most of them, but I was looking for a new adventure.  My husband and I decided it was time to hit Solaro Estate in Dripping Springs. 

This winery is truly a labor of love.  The family has incorporated the Old World traditions from their family winery in Solaro, Italy.  The wines are produced using only grapes grown in Texas.   Some are grown on their 160 acres, others are purchased from the Texas vineyards that have the most favorable conditions for the particular varietal.  The family is directly involved in every step, from picking the grapes to hand racking the wines.  Jessica, our host for the tasting, educates the guests and pushes the button to cork the bottles on bottling day.  The dedication and love are reflected in the wines.

We began our tasting with a Montage Blanc (70% Viognier, 20% unoaked Chardonnay, 5% Muscat Canelli, %5 Chenin Blanc).  Honeysuckle nose, medium body, well-balanced.  Soft peach and floral with a clean finish.  A great sipping wine.  Our next white was Arancia, a dry orange muscat.  Big flavor in front.  Think orange creamsicle with out the sugar.  Since I prefer dry wines in general, I really liked this take on what is typically a sweeter wine.  This wine received a Silver medal in the Finger Lakes Competition.  In fact, of the six wines Solaro submitted, four medaled in the competition.

We transitioned to reds in a big way.  The 2010 Mourvèdre is big.  There is nothing “young” tasting about this wine.  Cherry, vanilla, earthy nose.  Soft, round, cherry, and plum with rustic heft.  Then we had the Lisse, which means smooth.  The blending of 40% Merlot with the Mourvèdre changed it up.  It added surprising tart qualities (in a good way) and a long finish which inspired the name.

Sangiovese does well when grown in limestone so it is a natural fit in Texas.  As with the other red wines at Solaro, it is unfiltered, a beautiful ruby-red.  Bright, silky, Strawberry spice.  The Tempranillo was incredibly smooth.  Soil and spice and everything nice; it developed with each sip.  Solaro also does a Bordorosso, an even blend of Merlot and Tempranillo which is held for 27 months in French Oak.  Rich fruit and chocolate.  The Merlot brought out even more spice in the Tempranillo.

Finally, the pièce de résistance: Cheval 5.  Solaro is home to five Thouroughbred horses, thus the name of this winner.  A blend of Tempranillo, Mourvèdre, Sangiovese, Barbera, and Ruby Cabernet.  (If you are, as I was, unfamiliar with Ruby Cabernet, take the time to read up on it.  An interesting hybrid.)  Raspberry and rhubarb on the nose.  A brilliant red.  Fruit in the front, huge in the mid-palate, and an incredibly smooth finish.  An amazing wine.  If you are lucky enough to spend a Saturday at Solaro, you can sample this beauty by the glass at a great discount while listening to their music series.  This wine alone is worth the visit.

I love being “wowed” by Texas wines. I love seeing family-run wineries excel at what they are doing.  I love when the people at a winery add to the charm of the experience.  Solaro Estate exceeded my expectations in each of these areas and was an all around delight.  A perfect way to get outside and spend a spring afternoon near Austin.   With the impending release of the Barbera, I think we will be heading west again soon.