You may have heard of the wonderful Texas wines coming from CALAIS Winery and owner/winemaker Benjamin Calais. If you have visited the “wine cave” dug into the side of a hill outside of Hye, you probably experienced the tasting in the front of the cave.
The winery also has a special tasting called the Winemaker’s Table in the rear of the wine cave where you can taste with Benjamin Calais for a special experience. The winery is open on weekends and the Winemaker’s Table is only available two times on Saturdays. Reservations are required.
We joined Benjamin at the Winemaker’s Table at noon, the first opening on a Saturday. There were four of us and another three wine lovers enjoyed the tasting.
Benjamin started the tasting by introducing himself and explaining that he has had a Texas winery for 11 years now. His first winery location was in the Deep Ellum neighborhood of Dallas and he moved to Hye in 2015. The winery currently produces 2,500 cases of wine a year and everything is gravity fed with no pumps.
The Winemaker’s Table is up to eight people at a time and is 90 minutes long compared to the regular tasting in the front of the wine cave at 45 minutes. The Winemaker’s Table is always with Benjamin and the wines can differ from the tasting menu wines.
These are the wines we tasted during our visit:
- 2015 Malbec – Newsom Vineyards
- 2016 Cuvee de l’Exposition (100% Cabernet Sauvignon, 13.9% ABV) – Narra Vineyards
- 2016 Cuvee de l’Exposition (100% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15.9% ABV) – Newsom Vineyards. This was harvested mid-October.
- 2016 Cuvee de l’Exposition (100% Tempranillo, 13.0% ABV) – Newsom Vineyards. This is from the oldest Tempranillo vines in Texas.
- 2016 Cuvée d’Elme (Cabernet Sauvignon 57%, Merlot 38%, Cabernet Franc 5%) – Newsom Vineyards
- 2015 Gravitas (red blend) – Texas High Plains. This is only released when the style works.
- 2015 Le Botrytis Texan (Chenin Blanc) – Texas High Plains
- 2016 Cabernet Franc 100% – Newsom Vineyards
- 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon – Blue Mountain Trail Vineyard. 2.5 years in barrel. This is the rarest of all his wines.
- 2016 Petite Verdot 100% (13.7% ABV)
The special Winemaker’s Table tasting is highly recommended for those who want to enjoy some fantastic wines in addition to learning more about wine during the tasting. Plan on making your appointment now!