Even though Texas is fifth in wine production as well as in the number of wineries per state, I have yet to step foot in a Texas winery or tasting room despite having lived here for almost seven years. Hopefully, that will change next month during the Wine & Wildflower Journey, a passport event where $100 will enable a couple to visit over 40 wineries for free (tasting room fees usually average around $25/person).
A couple of weeks ago, I highlighted a couple of wineries that are taking part in the four-week event (which started this week), Bending Branch Winery in Comfort, Texas, and Spicewood Vineyards in Spicewood. Today I feature the other two wineries that comprise “Texas Fine Wine”, a sort of marketing collective, focusing on four of the top producers in the state. While Pedernales Cellars and Duchman Family Winery are not part of the Wine & Wildflower Journey, they are certainly two wineries that I will visit when I finally make my way out to Fredericksburg, Texas this year.
2017 Duchman Family Winery Aglianico, Texas High Plains: Retail $40. Heavy bottle. Under DIAM5. “I do not drink a ton of Aglianico,” said 99% of the wine-drinking population, and “wait, this is from Texas?” is uttered by just about all that remains. Not released until a whopping five years after harvest, this wine is certainly a bit brooding in the glass. Black fruit aromas (plum, cassis) abound with touches of spice and red rose petals. The palate carries on with the theme but there is a surprising amount of tartness and a wonderful balance. This is close to my first “Whoa” for a wine from Texas. Excellent. 92 Points.
2019 Duchman Family Winery Trebbiano Bingham Family Vineyards, Texas Hill Country: Retail $24. Heavy Bottle. Under DIAM3. Most people don’t realize that Trebbiano, known as Ugni Blanc in France, is one of the most widely planted white wine grapes in the world. The reason is that in France, it is used for Cognac and Armagnac, and in Italy, it is used for Balsamic Vinegar production. Rarely (particularly in Italy), is the grape made into a 100% varietal wine, so I was excited to try this Texas version. Quite light in the glass, with just a hint of straw with a slight green tinge and aromas of pink grapefruit and a mineral note. The palate leads with an austere note of wet rock, followed by a rather intense citrus note, then crushed seashell and spice. Quite nice and even better on day 2. Excellent. 90 Points.
NV Duchman Family Winery Progression, Texas: Retail $48. Under DIAM3. The Duchman website does not indicate any of the varieties used in the blend. I assume this is a solera-type wine and Duchman claims the first two iterations of this wine, were among their most popular releases. Who am I to doubt them? Dark in the glass in both color and aromas with brooding fruit (blackberry and cassis mostly) along with some cigar smoke and tar. The palate is rather austere, with some fruit, yes, but the acidity is more the driver here with that cigar aspect as well as pencil shavings. Very Good. 88 Points.
2020 Pedernales Cellars Grenache, Texas High Plains: Retail $35(?). Heavy bottle. At this point, nearly seven years into our “Texas Experiment” I have tasted a number of wines from the Lone Star State (easily more than the number of Pennsylvania wines I sampled while spending 16 years there), and I have to say, heavy bottle ridiculousness aside, Pedernales is at or near the top of my favorite brands from the state I now call home. Medium to dark in color, but all dark in aromas (on the verge of brooding), this Grenache is much bigger than its brethren from other regions. Fruity, yes, but there is also a heavy oak influence that I do not find off-putting, even a little bit. Round, smoky, toasty, and luscious, this wine certainly delivers but would be even better with a large ribeye or Texas barbecue. Yeah, I have turned into a homer (of sorts). Excellent. 91 Points.
2018 Pedernales Cellars Block Zero, Texas: Retail $55. Big. Ass. Bottle. 49% Merlot, 22% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Tannat, 14% Sangiovese, 5% Malbec. This is the last vintage of this wine after the folks at Pedernales decided not to replant this first estate vineyard since it always had difficulty ripening. Medium to dark in color with a heavy dose of oak, which dominates the nose and only serves to mask the dark fruit (plum, cassis, red raspberry), earth, and spice. Nicely balanced on the palate with plenty of oak up front, followed by a tart cherry, and finishes with lovely clove. I really like this wine, but it could improve with a slightly less prominent oak component (and a much lighter bottle). Excellent. 92 Points.
2018 Pedernales Cellars Graciano, Texas High Plains: Retail $45. Heavy bottle. Under cork. Where to start? I dare to count how many bottles of Texas wine I have tried since moving to the state, but I know how many it was before becoming a resident: zero. More than any other state, however, Texans are proud of their own and it shows. Texas wines are everywhere in the state and, this might not come as a surprise, but Texas wines are big because, well, you know. This Graciano (Graciano? In the U.S.? In Texas?) is no different. Well, maybe it is since it is really, really big. Fruit, mostly dark berry (cassis, blackberry), abounds here (understatement of this early year?). And while this is dark across the board (color, aromas, and flavors) surprisingly, it falls short of brooding. There is some acid here, that tries its hardest to combat all of that fruit, but seems to fall just short. So how would I rank this wine? Tough, since it is clearly not my style, but this is a pretty good representation of wines from Texas. Did any of us pretend to assume that a Texas wine would be “shy”? Very Good. 89 Points.
Thanks for sharing these wines….and let’s get you out to the wineries!