Just off the square in Mason are two wineries in the same building. Our first winery visit of the two was Parr Vineyards where we were fortunate to catch Robert Parr in the tasting room with Dilek, his wife, and our tasting guide. While she was helping other visitors, we had a good opportunity to talk with Robb, so I asked my favorite question, “Why are you making wines?”
“I just wanted a good bottle of wine.” After working for many years in Europe and enjoying the wines that were ubiquitous there. When Robb retired from the Air Force, he started making his own wine using purchased wine kits – and wasn’t having much success. He went looking to buy some grapes in the Mason area and though the vineyard owner he was hoping to purchase from refused him, Robb found some land in the area and got busy. We joked that he bought a very large wine kit.
They started growing Tempranillo, Touriga Nacional, and Mourvèdre in the new vineyard – not what I would have expected a second career new winemaker to attempt. Robb said that Texas isn’t Bordeaux and he wanted to grow what would work better for the climate and soil. He does grow some Cabernet Sauvignon now and says that it “comes off the vine perfect,” but it’s not to sell. They added Graciano, Semillon, and Viognier. Unfortunately for us, they had none of the white wines available for tasting.
We started tasting with Parr Vineyards 2021 Rosé of Mourvèdre with a nose of ripe Granny Smith apple and added minerality and tartness on the palate. It finished nice and bright. While we were tasting the 2021, Dilek brought out their 2020 Rosé of Mourvèdre – same vineyard, different year, and night and day. It was a lush hybrid ripe raspberry/strawberry nose, lush palate, and stronger finish.
The next standout was the 2018 Tempranillo Viejo with a nose of dark cherry coffee and bold tannins. It had a bit of a savory finish for me.
Now for the Touriga. The first Texas Touriga Nacional I ever had (okay, the first Touriga I have ever had) was in 2012 at Sandstone Cellars VII from the winery just down the road. While the Sandstone was very in-your-face and needed lots of time to calm down in a carafe when I had it years ago, these are refined and ready out of the bottle.
The 2015 Touriga Nacional was tanned leather and prune on the nose, but then provided a mouth full of pepper, leather, DARK cherry, and blackberry. It has medium to strong tannins and decent acid – a bottle I would cellar for a few years to get the best of it. My notes for the 2016 vintage are sparse, so I won’t try to reconstruct that one. All I have is “Leather, cherry.” It’s very possible that I was too taken to finish my notes.
Oh, I was not drinking all the wines. I brought my own spit bottle, as seen on the table in the first photo. I only mention this because I was sitting here looking at my notes and thinking, “Man, we tasted a lot of wines.” It was a really good day.
There’s more. Like, “What did I take home with me?”
2018 Red Lane. Notes: “Fascinating blend!” This blend of Touriga and Tempranillo present with white pepper, cherry pie filling (not baked), and pine forest. Tannins are a little tight but not powerful, but it has a kick on the finish. That’s the Touriga.
2018 Vintners Blend II. This is Tempranillo, Touriga, and Mourvèdre. Hmm, take Red Lane, lighten the cherry and lose the pepper. Still some pine. It finishes much smoother, though. It’s my #2 for this winery visit.
2019 Dance With Me: Tempranillo, Graciano, and Mourvèdre. Best nose so far. I apologize for resorting to color, but it’s fire-engine red to candy apple red. Someone sprinkled pepper in the room – a hint of it. Wait…don’t drink it yet because the aromas are growing. Each varietal is contributing its best to this blend. I get a delicate cherry from Mourvèdre, dark cherry from Tempranillo, and chocolate from the Graciano. Mouth is fruit with a slight tannic bite, but lush. It finishes like a cherry pie crust. This is wonderful!