Wine of the Week
A Sancerre-ly impressive Texas wine
Reviewed by Wes Marshall, Fri., Nov. 11, 2011
Spicewood Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc
This past week, I had the chance to visit several wineries close to Austin to see the state of the art of Texas wines. Both my wife and I went, along with Margaret Shugart, who will assist me with the next edition of The Wine Roads of Texas. We had the chance to visit two outstanding newish wineries where the wines were all surprisingly good. Both William Chris Vineyards in Hye and Pedernales Cellars in Stonewall are producing wines that are fully competitive with anything coming from California. They also have to deal with the reality that any winery wanting to use Texas grapes will be buying an expensive commodity. Californians can buy a nice ton of grapes for $400, but the least expensive Texas grapes on the market are running $1,500. Chalk it up to a problem of much higher demand than supply. So expect to pay for the privilege of drinking local. After tasting, you'll find it worth the money.
We also visited a few wineries that have been around for years. Woodrose Winery in Stonewall still has superb Cabernet Sauvignon, and the new branch of Messina Hof Winery had some excellent whites. But the winner for me was the outstanding 2010 Sauvignon Blanc from Spicewood Vineyards. I don't know whether to credit Ed and Madeleine Manigold, the original owners, with finding one of the world's great sites for Sauvignon Blanc or to credit the new owners, the Yates family, for terrific winemaking. In any case, this is wine that's competitive with the gold standard for Sauvignon Blanc, France's Sancerre wines. None of the overblown, fermented-grapefruit-juice aromas you get from some parts of the world. This wine is all delicacy and elegance with a perfect blend of pineapple, grapefruit, and fresh-mown-grass aromas. The only thing that gives it away as an American wine is the rich, dense mouthfeel. When the world's best versions of this grape are running at $25 plus, Spicewood's $16.99 price is a bargain. Spicewood wines are available at better shops in Austin, but the 45-minute drive to the winery is well worth the trip.