We received the product for review and all opinions are our own.
Valley Mills Vineyards Tempranillo 2014 is the subject of this edition of Texas Wine Lover Wine Review. Valley Mills Vineyards (VMV) is located in Waco, TX, with their estate vineyard planted further out in northwest TX on Highway 6 in Valley Mills. The first grapevines were planted in 2007, and the winery and tasting room were established in 2010. Note: New winery facilities are currently being built at the estate vineyard site in Valley Mills (check Facebook for more info).
The original owners were Dr. Bill and Amy Peper along with Dr. John and Kandi Bagnasco. Today VMV is solely owned by the Bagnasco family, with son Joey Bagnasco, general manager, and Marc Moberg, current winemaker, handling most of the day-to-day- operations. Kandi Bagnasco manages the tasting room. Texas Wine Lover has provided a lot of info about these folks and VMV in previous posts, including a podcast by Jeff Cope with Joey Bagnasco.
Valley Mills Vineyards has 12 acres planted in their estate vineyard. They also source fruit from several other growers in Central Texas and from the Texas High Plains. The Tempranillo fruit for this wine was sourced from the Valley Mills Vineyards estate vineyard.
Tempranillo is native to northern Spain and Portugal, and is most famous for making the fine red wines of the Rioja and Ribera del Duero regions of Spain. Tempranillo is also known as Tinta Roriz in Portugal, and is one of the major grapes grown for the production of fortified Port wines. The climate in these regions is hot and dry with relatively high elevation and rocky, sandy soils, where the wind seems to blow across the vines every day. Say what? Doesn’t that sound a lot like many of the Texas wine growing areas? The answer is yes, and with that background, Tempranillo seems a natural to flourish in Texas. Tempranillo has certainly found a home with grape growers and winemakers here in the Lone Star State.
Tempranillo is an early ripening grape that is relatively thick-skinned, which provides some measure of protection against soaring summer temperatures, many diseases, and insect pests. Tempranillo offers a relatively mild flavor profile with red fruit (think cherry) characteristics and an earthy minerality often associated with classic European wines. When grown well and ripened sufficiently, typical notes of leather, tobacco, dried cherry, strawberry, tomato, and sandy earth are often found in the wines.
The VMV Tempranillo 2014 was fermented in small bins. Early on, hand punch downs were done every four hours to promote flavor and tannin extraction from the skins, and to help moderate temperature rise during fermentation. After primary fermentation, the must was guided through malolactic transformation (aka malolactic or secondary fermentation). The wine was then pressed away from the skins and seeds directly into barrels for aging. The barrels were mostly neutral oak, a mix of French and American, where the wine aged for 19 months before being bottled on February 13, 2017, as a limited release of 90 cases. Laurie Ware helped bottle this wine.
- Valley Mills Vineyards Tempranillo 2014
- Winemaker: Marc Moberg
- Appellation: Texas
- Grape varieties: Tempranillo, 100%
- Fruit source: Valley Mills Vineyards estate vineyard
- Clarity/brightness: Clear/bright with no detectable flaws, and no evidence of gas or sediment
- Tannins: Medium plus
- Acidity: Medium plus
- Alcohol: Medium
- Finish: Long
- Aging: 19 months in neutral oak barrels (mix of French and American)
- Alcohol by volume: 13.0%
- Retail price at the time of this review: $60
During a relatively quiet moment prior to the opening of the recent Texas Hill Country Wine Symposium at Horseshoe Bay, TX, we decided to open and review the VMV Tempranillo 2014. We first noted the very clever label design that incorporates the winery name and initials, VMV, into the depiction of a wine glass. Also, the fossil depicted represents many that are found in the limestone-rich soil of the Valley Mills estate vineyard. The cork came out smoothly, and the wine showed a deep, dark, black-claret color as it splashed into our glasses. The aroma was rich with dark sour cherry fruit and notes of freshly cut cedar fence posts, cured tobacco leaf, and spicy dill and clove. There were also hints of strawberry and smoke, and a perfumed floral note of violets that wafted from the glass. These aromas, especially the fruit, were echoed on the palate. We noted significant, but ripe tannins in the relatively full-bodied wine, with an overall good balance between fruit and acidity.
As the wine opened in our glasses over 20 minutes or so, we noted a significant red currant fruit component to the aroma and flavor. There was also a pleasant sweet green herbal aroma, sort of like green banana peel. The cedar and cured tobacco leaf aromas and flavors never wavered, only becoming more pronounced with time in the glass. The tannins began to take on the classic dusty, chalky characteristic found in most Tempranillo wines – sort of like dust rising from a Texas country dirt road.
Laurie noted that she corked the wine following our tasting, and poured a small glass the next day. The wine was still fresh, showing no negative signs after being corked overnight. Further, Laurie finished the remainder of this bottle at home on Saturday, noting that the wine was just as good as when we first opened it on Wednesday. This clearly indicates significant aging potential for the VMV Tempranillo 2014.
We certainly enjoyed this Valley Mills Vineyards Tempranillo 2014 for its full-body, rich flavor profile, and overall complexity. This wine should age well for another 3-5 years in a temperature controlled cellar. We discussed food pairings and decided on the classics – grilled Texas steak, venison, or other wild game, and a seasoned beef pot roast on a cool winter day.
The wine coincidentally just received a Double Gold medal at the 2018 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition. Valley Mills of course is proud of this achievement for their winery, and a major accolade for a wine made exclusively from grapes grown at their estate vineyard.
“I love working with Tempranillo”, said Marc Moberg, winemaker at Valley Mills Vineyards. “The potential for consistent quality from this grape is hard to beat.”
So, as our friend and fellow Texas Wine Lover writer and wine reviewer, Jeremy Wilson, is known to say, “Sip, savor, and enjoy my fellow aficionados.”