In March, Robin and Mike Clark joined Sean and me at a dinner and vertical tasting at Fly Gap Winery in Mason. Sean and I started following winemaker Brock Estes with his very first vintages of Dank, and we have remained friends ever since. When he asked us to join the tasting, I could not say no.
We gathered about an hour or so before sundown at Fly Gap Winery. Friends and family made up the guests ringed around the table. We all chatted with one another, waiting for everyone to arrive. As we waited, we sipped on older vintages. Nacho’s Café from Mason provided our four-course meal to pair with three of Brock’s 100% Texas Tannats.
First, we had a Mexican slider. A thick juicy beef patty rested on the bun, garnished with cheese and a spicy salsa. The salsa could easily take over the dish except for the first wine, a 2017 Tannat from Reddy Vineyards (due for bottling this summer). The young wine showcased bright fruit that calmed the heat and accentuated the fresh flavors of the salsa. As the wine breathed, it grew more intense, making it the boldest of the three wines.
Our second course paired with one of Brock’s newest releases: 2016 Melissa’s Cuvee. This wine comes with a touching story. As Brock and the fruit left Reddy Vineyards in the High Plains, he got a call that his wife had breast cancer. Brock turned his focus on his family, leaving the grapes with his father who kept the free run juice. Thankfully, Melissa made it through her treatments cancer-free! To honor the occasion, the label bears Melissa’s hands. This wine is currently available at the winery, small retailers, and select Spec’s.
Nacho’s Café paired pork carnitas with the light wine. A corn tortilla held the pork with pineapple. The wine’s dark fruit paired well. About mid-palate, the tannins appear and lead to a soft end.
The main course was filet mignon medallions with asparagus and potatoes. The wine, a 2015 Tannat, had balanced tannins that worked with the beef; the hints of oak and mellow fruit provided a nice base for the course.
We ended with a fresh fruit dessert comprised of cantaloupe, pineapple, red grapes, kiwi, strawberries, mandarin, and tartaric crystals. The refreshing dish went well with the cooling spring sunset.
After dinner, we all headed to taste some new wines. On the way, we toured the slowly developing facilities: the tasting room, a private dining room, and the barrel room. The winery gets closer and closer every year. Brock spends much of his free time working on the wine and the winery grounds. He also pays for everything out-of-pocket. This means the winery progresses at a slower rate, but as the saying goes, “good things come to those who wait.”
We tried wines from three separate barrels. The first two were Tannat. Brock split the juice into two barrels. One older oak barrel has been regularly turned to extract more from the lees. The rest of the juice is in a medium toast new oak barrel.
The surprise of the night was the still fermenting Reddy Mourvèdre. The grapes were picked at 28 brix. Despite the wine’s high sugars and current state, it shows lots of potential. It is bold and rich, a future vintage to keep an eye out for.
Fly Gap winery, though still in production, does take appointments when they can. Brock also leads regular Mason County wine tours where guests get to sip on Fly Gap wines at the winery, but also visit and taste wines from Sandstone Cellars Winery, the Wines of Dotson-Cervantes, and the forthcoming wines from Robert Clay Vineyards.