During this year’s annual Roll Out the Barrel, this time Part 4, I was able to attend again like the first two years. The first year included wine media visiting eight Texas wineries in one day. It was a very busy day and required writing about it in two posts: one and two. The second year was a more reasonable three wineries. Last year’s tour was also three wineries. This year’s tour was again involving three wineries, but a different set than previously visited.
Matt McGinnis of Pen & Tell Us arranged the media tour of Roll Out the Barrel. He explained it was similar to En Primeur in France, or known as wine futures, which is a method of purchasing wines early while the wine is still in the barrel. The tour gave the group a sampling of what three Texas wineries have for futures including some recently finished wine.
The first winery we visited was Wedding Oak Winery in San Saba. Greeting us were managing partner Mike McHenry, his wife Lynn McHenry, Operations Manager Doug Winter, Director of Vineyard Operations Penny Adams, and winemaker Seth Urbanek. We headed to the barrel room for the winery’s presentation. Before the tasting, Mike McHenry explained how they were going to be opening a new tasting room in Fredericksburg across from Alstadt Brewery hopefully in April, and another tasting room in Burnet hopefully in June.
Seth Urbanek and Penny Adams took over and this is what we had the chance to taste:
- 2018 Albariño
- 2018 Rosato di Sangiovese. Rosé made from Sangiovese and from the tank.
- 2018 Tempranillo – Mirasol Vineyards. The Tempranillo was from neutral French barrels for six months. They will blend for the final blend with 20% oak.
- 2018 Tempranillo – Mirasol Vineyards. Same as the previous one but from new American oak.
- 2018 Petite Sirah – Texas High Plains. This was 15% new American oak.
- 2018 Montepulciano – Diamanté Doble Vineyard from neutral French oak
- 2018 Montepulciano – Diamanté Doble Vineyard but from new French oak
- 2018 Aglianico – High Top Vineyards. Only four barrels this year because of a new vineyard, but more should be coming next year.
About half of Wedding Oak’s fruit comes from the Texas Hill Country. Seth Urbanek also mentioned, “Italian grapes are less work in the cellar. The chemistry is much easier to work with.”
We also learned that putting all of a wine in new oak would be overwhelming. That is why the winery blends new oak barrels with neutral oak to help make the finished wine better. Wedding Oak Winery produces 10,000 cases which also includes the custom crush they do for other wineries.
After packing up and picking up a packed lunch, it was time to get on the bus and head to Fall Creek Vineyards.
We arrived at Fall Creek Vineyards and owners Ed and Susan Auler along with winemaker Sergio Cuadra met us in the tasting room. There we enjoyed a 2018 Sauvignon Blanc “Vintner’s Selection” from Mesa Vineyards while they described the winery to the group. It was then on to the barrel room.
There is nothing like tasting in a barrel room, other than being a little chilly. This is what we had the chance to taste:
- 2017 Chardonnay Certenberg Vineyard “Terroir Reflection” – Texas Hill Country. This was barrel fermented in French and second used barrels in the bottle already, but not yet released. The Chardonnay was made in old world style while their “Vintner’s Selection” wine is pure Chardonnay.
- 2016 ExTerra Mourvèdre Salt Lick Vineyards – Texas Hill Country. This was from a small crop but excellent quality. It was stored in barrels for 18 months using a mix of 20% new American and French oak.
- 2016 ExTerra Tempranillo Salt Lick Vineyards – Texas Hill Country. This was done in all American oak. It was a pleasure to taste the ExTerra wines since they are being sold for $100 a bottle but are an excellent representation of Texas wine.
- 2017 Tempranillo Salt Lick Vineyards “Terroir Reflection” – Texas Hill Country. This had just been bottled and will soon be released.
- 2018 Mourvèdre Salt Lick Vineyards – Texas Hill Country. This was from the barrel after a little over a month.
- 2017 Petit Verdot Certenberg Vineyard – Texas Hill Country. This will soon be bottled.
- 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon Driftwood – Texas Hill Country. This is from 2/3 of their new vineyard at the Fall Creek Vineyards – Driftwood vineyard and the rest is Salt Lick Vineyards. Sergio Cuadra explained how it was amazing the Cabernet Sauvignon was growing in limestone compared to no problem with growing on granite in the Texas Hill Country. Growing on limestone is very promising for the future.
Near the end of the tasting, we were treated by special food appetizers by Chef Bryan Gillenwater from Bryans on 290 in Johnson City. The appetizers were:
- Salmon Crudo: Crème fraiche, terragon oil, fine herbs
- Smoked Duck: Whole grain mustard, pickled okra, pistachios
- Beef Carpaccio: Bacon jam, marinated tomato, bronze fennel
It was an interesting and excellent tasting, but we were a little late, so it was on to our next winery, Spicewood Vineyards. At Spicewood, owner Ron Yates greeted us and had us ready to do a tasting in the tasting room.
With Willie Nelson playing in the background, this is what Ron Yates poured for us:
- 2018 Sauvignon Blanc – estate. recently bottled
- 2017 Sammie’s Cuvée (75% Sémillon. 25% Sauvignon Blanc) – estate. This was named after Ron Yates’ youngest daughter.
- 2016 Syrah – estate. This is the winery’s first single varietal Syrah.
- 2017 Syrah. Sample and will be bottling in April.
- 2018 Syrah. Sample from 45% new French.
- 2016 Tandem (60% Syrah, 40% Carignan). This is the current tasting we did that was not from estate fruit.
- 2016 Tenny Wren (50/50 blend of Cabernet and Merlot). This was named after Ron Yates’ oldest daughter. 50% was in new French for 16 months.
- 2015 Tempranillo estate
- 2015 Good Guy (60% Tempranillo, 26% Graciano, 7% Cabernet, 7% Merlot)
- 2017 Good Guy. This will be bottled in April.
- 2014 Good Guy (42% Tempranillo, 17% Cabernet, 17% Graciano, 17% Merlot, 7% Syrah)
Spicewood Vineyards makes 3,500 cases of wine a year. The Good Guy and Sauvignon Blanc are the only wines they have made since they bought the winery in 2007.
We were running a little late, but nobody in the group seemed to mind as we tasted some wonderful Texas wines. Once we were on our way, everybody seemed happy as they had enjoyed a wonderful day of experiencing current and future Texas wines.