We received the product for review and all opinions are our own.
Texas has been inching more and more into the warm weather grape varieties as has been discussed so many times before. There is zero doubt this is the best path forward for the Texas wine industry. Why force something to work when you can plant grape varieties that absolutely love Texas? Well, the answer is clear and this is why we see so many hot weather wines dominating the local industry. These are the wines impressing Californians. These are the wines winning Double Golds in San Francisco.
However, I would never make the claim you cannot make great Bordeaux style wines in Texas. They are difficult to make happen to high standards, especially on an annual basis, but Llano Estacado does it again, and again. I love the wines from this winery and the people behind the brand are exceptional. Llano Estacado is one of the few Texas wineries who consistently make stunning Bordeaux style wines. How is this possible? Well, decades of experience in both winemaking and viticulture practice, and just as important, vineyard selection. They only choose to source fruit from the best vineyards that are capable of producing world class Bordeaux Noble grape varieties.
The wine up for review is a new release from Llano Estacado. It is a youngster that is labeled as a Meritage Blend. This means the wine was accepted into the prestigious American Meritage Association. Wines of this distinction are blended with the noble grapes originally of Bordeaux. This is quite the accomplishment, so bravo to the fine folks at the winery on this endeavor!
Upon removal of the cork, the wine pours into the glass a deep garnet. The nose is earthy and very much “old world” in style. Dark fruit, wet earth, leather, and hints of spice all dance on the tongue. On the palate, the nose is confirmed almost exactly. The wine is mouth coating and dense. The alcohol stands out at first while the wine is still very tight, but once the wine begins to open up, it starts to integrate. The tannins are present, but smooth, and the finish lingers.
- Llano Estacado Winery Meritage Blend, 2016 vintage
- Winemaker: Jason Centanni, Greg Bruni
- Appellation: Texas
- Grape Varieties: Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot
- Barrels: Aged in 40% new French oak from Nadalie and Canton cooperages
- Clarity/brightness: Clear/bright with no detectable flaws, and no evidence of gas or sediment
- Tannins: Medium
- Acidity: Medium
- Alcohol: Medium plus
- pH: 3.78
- Finish: Long
- Alcohol by volume: 13.6%
This wine is a mere baby having been bottled just a few months ago. Although it will obviously improve and open up in time, it is surprisingly drinkable now. I will admit it does take some time to wake up. Upon pulling the cork, this wine is very tightly wound. Almost flat and one dimensional. However, after being open and in the glass for a while, the complexity starts to shine. As we reached the end of the bottle, it was only getting started. This wine is quite enjoyable alone, but with its youth and slightly stand-out alcohol, I recommend pairing this bottle of wine with game. Venison, elk, and rack of lamb are all brilliant choices as pairing partners. Soft goat cheese is also a solid mate.
Sip, savor, and enjoy my fellow aficionados.