Nestled between acres of lush estate vineyards near Marble Falls in the Texas Hill Country sits Flat Creek Estate. As you walk up to the tasting room, aromas of delicious food overwhelm the senses from the restaurant on site. Yummy!
Flat Creek takes pride in making authentic Texas wine, made from 100% Texas fruit. However, 2009 proved to be a very challenging year for Texas. A hard freeze and large hail ravaged the estate vineyard which wrestled away dreams of a gorgeous estate Syrah. The decision was made to purchase fruit from proven and award winning regions of California such as the Sierra Nevada Foothills and Lodi. This Flat Creek Syrah was hand crafted in Texas by a talented Texas winemaker, so don’t confuse this for a California wine even though the fruit was grown and harvested there. This wine really appeals to me because it combines the hard work and the old world style of Texas winemaking with the über ripe and bold fruit of California. At 15.5% alcohol, this is a beast of a wine!
Once out of the bottle, I tilted the glass and a very dark ruby red center with a blush rim variation stared me down. Big legs drip down the sides of the glass showing off their muscles. The nose screams, “I am Syrah,” with spices and black and white peppercorns jumping like popcorn out of the glass. I wouldn’t call this wine fruit forward on the nose, but black fruits are prominent behind notes of toasty oak, old leather, and peppercorns.
On the palate, this wine offers a unique balance of Old World and New World style. The high alcohol from extreme ripeness is absolutely New World, while the peppery and more subtle fruit characteristics really show off an Old World personality. Blackberries, boysenberries, and peppercorns sit underneath a pile of dusty tannins and a toasty oak barrel draped with old handmade cowboy boots. There is also a nuance of smoked meat over a primitive campfire. That is exactly what I picture when drinking this massive yet gentle wine. The phenolic (fruit) and wood tannins are balanced on the front and back of the palate followed by a lingering finish.
Here are the facts:
- Vintage – 2009
- Varietal – 100% Syrah
- Barreling was 20 Months in 40% New Oak, 50% French, 30% American, 20% European
- Clarity/brightness – Clear/Bright. There are no detectable flaws.
- Tannins – Medium plus to high
- Acidity – Medium to medium plus
- Alcohol – high (This wine is fairly hot, but is well balanced for pairing with foods such as a steak or spicy marinated chicken breast)
- Finish – Long. The leather and smoky warmth really linger on the back of the palate.
There is the ever going debate over Texas wine being either mostly or all Texas fruit. As much as I love 100% Texas fruit, I do support any effort to make fantastic wine even under extreme circumstances such as the 2009 vintage for Flat Creek. Texas is one of the most extreme regions in the world for viticulture, therefore I understand the need to purchase fruit from other sources when Mother Nature throws a jab to the gut. I firmly believe that this wine would not have such an Old World character had it been made in California, by a California winemaker. Great job Flat Creek!
Sip, savor and enjoy my fellow aficionados.