Friday, October 2, 2015

California's Loss is Texas' Gain!!!

Northwest of Austin, just off Highway 71, down some winding farm roads, across a couple of cattle guards, nestled under a grove of old oak tree is a cool Texas winery that you need to visit...Spicewood Vineyards. This is one of the OG Texas Wineries; founded in 1992 by Edward and Madeleine Manigold with a goal of making the finest wines possible and their very first Chardonnay won a silver medal in a national competition. The Manigolds gave their baby tender loving care for many years until 2007 when the Yates family purchased the property and now joyfully continue the tradition of making fine wines that continue to win State, Regional, National and International competitions.

On Sunday September 27th I had the great pleasure to attended a very special evening that celebrating Todd Crowells, winemaking in his 'new' home at Spicewood Vineyards and his old home Christopher Creek in Sonoma California. Spicewood owner Ron Yates, and Christopher Creek owner Dominic Foppoli co-hosted the event.  They commented on the talents and benefits of Todd's winemaking while regaling the attendees with the fun, funny and entertaining moments of owning and working at a winery. Dominic lamented not having Todd as winemaker on more than one occasion.

It was a great setting in the limestone walled cellar filled with barrels of aging wine and bins of recently picked grapes fermenting, on their way to becoming wine.  In the midst of this wine 'river;' corks were sprung from bottles from California and Texas, the wine bubbled and poured into the many glasses of the eager and enthusiastic tasters. Who savored and enjoyed every drop of wine and every turn of phrase from the storytellers.

Wines Tasted:
Albarino,  Spicewood, Texas High Plains, 2014
Expressive aromas, very fruity almost tooty fruity, quite floral. On the palette the tangy fruity quality abound, with citrus and melon flavors making this wine very enjoyable to drink with it's light crisp finish.

Sauvingnon Blanc,  Spicewood, Estate, Texas Hill Country, 2014 
Nicely and slightly effervescent with aromas of tropical fruit and dried hay. The flavors of grapefruit come through quite enjoyably with a hint of kiwi and a refreshing finish. Made from mature vines planted by the Manigolds in the early '90's; excellent!

Chardonnay, Foppoli, Reserve, Russian River Valley, California, 2011
Mysterious aromas; alluring and beguiling. The flavors are very revealing with pronounced apple, caramel and fruitiness that is just shy of being sweet. Supple feeling on the palette with just a hint of minerals in the finish. A very pretty California Chardonnay that is well made and fun.

Pinot Noir, Christopher Creek, Eastside Vineyard, Russian River Valley, Sanoma, California, 2014
Very smoky on the nose with raspberry aromas. In your mouth the fruity raspberry flavors explode with blackberry fruit following through where the smoky and oak touches come through too the finish.

Pinot Noir, Christopher Creek, "Wine Family" Vineyard, Russian River Valley, Sanoma, California, 2014
Begins with a funky nose showing the raspberry fruit too. The flavors are very delicious with the raspberry fruit and balanced oak and that earthy complexity.  Shows great promise, just needs a little more time in the bottle.

Red Blend, "The Good Guy" Spicewood, Estate, Texas Hill Country, 2013 
(This was a preview of the 2013, made with 31% Tempranillo, 31% Merlot, and Graciano, Cab, Syrah.) Effusive vanilla aromas with smoky and toasty notes with cedar, pepper and a handsome floral flourish. The flavors were a tad more reserved with raspberry, pepper and pleasing coco notes.  Showing the early signs of a great wine that will reward the drinker who has the self control to age it.

Red Blend, Benevolo, Reserve, Napa Valley, California, 2011
Classic single vineyard red Bordeaux varietals – Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petite Verdot, and Malbec. Napa Valley grapes in the hands of Sonoma winemakers! The aromatic qualities of pine and pepper are mouthwatering with nice round plum fruit.  The delicious red and black cherry fruit come through up front and proud with some tangy tannins following.  Secondary flavors of coco, spice and leather add complexity and enjoyment of this pleasurable wine.
A little wine that Todd Crowell missed making and Ron Yates made happen for his winemaker, winery and all of us wine drinkers! California Zinfandel is one of the worlds most unique wines and I love them. This wine has a great rhubarb aroma with boysenberry and cracked black pepper.  The flavors are big and rich with red cherry, ripe raspberry, white pepper and soft vanilla. Pure pleasure.

From here the group of Spicewood supporters, newly initiated, and curious passer bys all adjourned to the elegant Event Center where we further indulged in wine and perfectly paired small plate foods! My favorite was the Good Guy wine with the duck.  All were excellent! And, even better was the conversation with the Yates family and friends. Events like this are hedonistic without a doubt and designed to please all of your senses, but the real je ne sais quoi comes from the interaction of the attendees.  And, the Yates at Spicewood have it going on!

implore you to go to Spicewood Vineyards the next chance you get. With October being Texas Wine Month; you should be going to Texas wineries every weekend! I hope to see you in wine country!

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