We could hardly believe that we were saying, “Wow! This wine can just keep aging…” Take note at the exception of this well-made hand-crafted wine from Nevada.  The acids are perfect for this beauty. The excellent tannins present a pleasant long-lasting finish. This one exemplifies why Cabernet Franc can be addicting. On the nose you will note the enticing aroma of black licorice tempting you. The notes range from bell peppers, to plums, and a hint of strawberry in this medium-bodied wine.  The flavors meld nicely and allow this wine to pair nicely with many dishes. If you’re patient and want the best that this wine has to offer, make sure you allow it to breathe for an hour or so before you drink it. Best of all, if you are really patient and have some of these bottles in your cellar, just let those extra bottles sit a little longer, as this one can still cellar for a while longer. There were no signs of degradation in this 2007 vintage. A wonderful long-term wine for the cellar to be enjoyed throughout the years to come! 

IMG_0885 - Pahrump Valley Winery - Loken Cabernet Franc - 2007

www.pahrumpwinery.com

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Located just east of Bandera, this family run winery has a fun, relaxed wine bar atmosphere to allow you to sit and sip for a while in a cool welcoming space. Turns out, the owners of Lost Maples Winery near Vanderpool are cousins of the owners Terry, Alice, Rhett and Kymberli Word of Hill Country Cellars.  Both wineries collaborate on sourced grapes and winemaking. Hill Country Wine Cellars opened two years ago. The inside decor is phenomenal with much detail in the reclaimed wood and use of wine barrels.  There were seven wines available during our visit. One Rosé, two whites, and three reds. The Rosé was made from Shiraz grapes and was smooth with strawberry and raspberry notes. Their Chardonnay was fermented in stainless steel and featured more citrus notes. The Symphony is a rare white not often used.  The 2016 vintage was quite floral with pear notes and honeysuckle and a slight tartness. For the 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon, we noted blackberry fruit on the nose and a hint of pepper.  It was clearer than most Cabs, but that didn’t detract from the experience. The 2016 Malbec is still young and was a bit hot initially but did have a smooth taste. Their 2015 Black Spanish wine was also well made fermented in French oak with a 15% alcohol content.  It was a bit hot and should be able to mellow with a little more aging.  The Black Spanish had a bold texture and a pleasant dry finish without the astringency of most Back Spanish wines. Terry was a great host and we were impressed with his presentation and knowledge of the wines. The winery also offers tapas to pair with your favorite selection.  So, come on out, sit back, relax, and enjoy what life has to offer here!

IMG_0879 - Hill Country Cellars

www.hillcountrycellarswinery.com

Who says Texas Sangiovese wines can’t age? Given good fruit and a good winemaker, great things can happen. Let’s also not forget a good cork to keep the wine well protected. It’s always a pleasure to pour an aged red and see that little has changed for this ruby red wine. The fruit has lost some of its bright berry notes, yet still presents both cherry and plum making this still a very enjoyable wine. The tannins are notable, but are softening up a bit, however, there is still a decent finish. There is sufficient acid to help compliment your favorite Italian dishes. Anyone else still have a few bottles?  No problem!  Keep them well cellared and try one in couple of years and compare. We think you will be equally impressed with this one. Enjoy!

IMG_0883 - Flat Creek Estate - Super Texan - 2010

www.flatcreekestate.com

One of the best pleasures of exploring Texas Hill Country wineries are the fantastic views and interesting people you get to meet along the way. Scimitar Hill Vineyards has one of those breath-taking views that are so majestic and a passionate owner. Tom Hendrix and his wife are the proud owners of this piece of paradise which opened a couple of years ago. His ranch is home to about 33 scimitar-horned oryx. Ironically, raising oryx was the original purpose of the ranch.  The vines and wine making came later.  This is Tom’s later in life hobby and next chapter after a career in information technology.  The tasting room sits atop a hill overlooking the animals and vineyard.  Inside the tasting room, Tom keeps two plaques on the mantle featuring his favorite wine quotes, one from Earnest Hemmingway and the other from Gerald Asher.  A sign that Tom’s passion and love IS in this business.  He and his wife have enjoyed traveling in France and they were inspired by similarities of climate and soil with central Texas. So they decided why can’t they do the same thing here in Texas? The initial plantings in the vineyard began in 2009 and they now have about 2.5 acres planted on two separate plots.  Varietals include Albariño, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Petit Verdot.  His estate wines express the labor of love that he and his wife have put into this venture.  We tried all the wines available in the tasting room on our visit. Let the 2014 Malbec breathe for a bit, then you can soak in some great notes on this vintage. The 2016 Cabernet Franc needs some time to settle as it is still a bit tight, but you can discern the nice cherry flavors that will make this wine a keeper.  The 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon is a bit young now, but has some lovely berry notes that will only improve with age.  The 2016 Merlot has a lot of great flavor and a nice long finish. The rock star of his selection is the 2016 Petit Verdot. The dark purple color and the enticing nice long finish puts a whole new meaning to bonding with great wine. This one has the potential to age and drink well for the next decade.  When Tom feels that the Albariño vines are mature enough, he’ll start making some estate wines of that, too.  Yet another excuse for a return trip!  Tom is a great guy to chat with and makes the hospitality of his place that much more welcoming. Another fine example of how small boutique wineries make Texas wines personal. This is a stunning spot to stop, that is a bit out of the way, but so very much worth your time and effort. Plus, on the way you can visit Bandera and enjoy some cowboy country, so what’s not to love? Plot your course for a new winery destination and stop in and say hi and see the wines being produced in Camp Verde, Texas.

IMAG5586 - Scimitar Hill Vineyards

www.scimitarhill.com

Another great wine has been blessed with age!  This red blend of Mourvedre (30%), Grenache (37%), and Tempranillo (33%) exhibits some of the most elegant characters of these three varietals. Yes, this wine does need some breathing time of at least an hour or more if you are to thoroughly enjoy what it has to offer. Once it breathes though, the notes can be complex initially, but you will find dark berries followed by some cherry and a touch of leather. This is a good medium bodied wine with a lingering dusty pleasant finish.  The tannins are holding up quite well, so if have a few bottles left, they can remain cellared for a while longer. Now that you’ve had a sneak peek on what to expect, invite some friends and enjoy!

IMG_0878 - Solaro Estate - MourvedreGrenacheTempranillo Reserve - 2009.JPG

www.solaroestate.com

Oh, how lovely it is!  This refreshing white wine is a blessing for all those who love Trebbiano.   Chilled, this relatively low acidity Texas High Plains wine makes a great pairing for vegetarian and spicy dishes.  The light bodied wine exhibits hints of apple and lemons.  Of course, as temperatures continue to rise, it will be a great one to sip on the back porch.  Enjoy and savor!

IMG_0876 - Pheasant Ridge Winery - Trebbiano - 2017

www.pheasantridgewinery.com

Look what jewel has been uncovered!  This delightful Merlot has stood the test of time. On the nose, you will detect subtle earthiness followed by cherry and coffee notes. The finish holds quite well for this medium bodied red wine. A bit dusty on the palate, but still lots of character left to it. Surprisingly, little sediment was found in the bottle.  Quite pleased with this lost little gem found hiding in the back of our wine vault and pleased that when uncorked and poured it has held up remarkably well for its age. Pair it  with your favorite hearty protein cuisine or enjoy on its own, cheers to a great turn of the century bottle that made it this far!

IMG_0873 - Toasted Head Winery - Merlot - 2000

www.toastedhead.com