Our second stop in our Mason County winery tour was to Dotson-Cervantes in Voca. We met Alphonse Dotson and Martha Cervantes years ago at William Chris Vineyards where they were selling their Gotas de Oro. I still have a couple of those autographed bottles, unopened.
This was our first trip to the winery in Voca next to their vineyard and our first time to see Alphonse and Martha in several years. After a little catching up, Alphonse put some light jazz on the turntable to accompany the cricket hiding in a corner somewhere.
Our first tasting was of the 2019 Perseverance, a blend of Muscat Canelli, Muscat Giallo, Chardonnay, and Malvasia Bianca. To me, this was pear and slight tangerine on the nose with a buttery texture on the mouth. Lush… just lush.
Alphonse followed this up with their non-vintage Delilah’s Grace!, Muscat Canelli and Muscat Giallo. It’s a different expression of Muscat than what people normally expect. “The Muscat Giallo was harvested when the fruit was tart. The Muscat Canelli was harvested when the fruit had wasps and bees thinking that they were having a Roman feast. This is Delilah Grace: she’s either tart or sweet.”
Here’s where Don Pullum prompted Alphonse to talk about his winemaking technique they jointly, and humorously, call “fraught with peril.” “I am a believer in not controlling the wild yeasts and natural yeasts. Let it run! And then add manmade yeast to control it.” He says that he’s hard on his wines, but then they come out complex and delicate and tough.
Back to Delilah’s Grace!: Honeysuckle on the nose and palate with mineral and a touch of bitter (stem?) on the tongue. It’s almost effervescent and finishes dry – no sweet aftertaste. This is a drink now or lay-down. Or even leave it open for a day!
Next was the Rosé de Rosé, “…our second rosé. The rosés that I was tasting 6-7 years ago when they started getting popular again – the ones that I ran into – were either sugary sweet or a little dry for my taste. And I said, ‘Well, why don’t I try my hand that is fruit-forward in its sweetness and not sugar.’”
Alphonse took Muscat Canelli and Muscat Giallo and finished those, then added the (already finished) Chardonnay and a touch of Merlot, also finished.
Raspberry, strawberry, a little granny smith with a buttery feel in the mouth… low acid, touch of tannins, rich and “dark.”
Premonitions of Sterling was the first red wine of Dotson-Cervantes Julie and I have had. Alphonse served us from a bottle that had been opened five days before and it smelled savory. “It smells like pizza” – Julie. Tomato sauce with Italian herbs. This is where he demonstrated his axiom that he strives to make wines that still taste good after being left open at least overnight. We still got the tomato in the mouth with tartness, high acidity, and moderate tannins. It was an enjoyable wine – distinctive and chewy!
2017 Dilemma! is an estate-grown Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot, and Merlot blend that I will be laying down. We tasted from a freshly opened bottle and then a bottle opened six days before (left corked and at room temperature) and I was surprised to the point that I forgot to take good tasting notes. I did say “Wow” a lot.
Here’s what I will do with this, I have two bottles: one to lay down for years, and the other will be a treat. I will open it and do a five-day progressive Visual Tasting, only corking the bottle from day to day.
Angelina’s Smile is Alphonse and Martha’s new dessert wine, a luscious Chardonnay, Muscat Canelli, and Orange Muscat blend that is not a high-alcohol port-style wine, but a good 12% stand-alone treat. If you ever had the Gotas de Oro, this is the successor. Need to pair this? A cigar. Or some Brie.
Last on this trip was the 2018 El Sol Dorado, Dotson-Cervantes’ fortified (port-style) wine – it’s fortified with Texas Orange Muscat brandy. Don Pullum evidently talked Alphonse into making this, and I can’t figure it out. Here’s a Visual Tasting: