The Austin Chronicle

Wine of the Week

Reviewed by Wes Marshall, September 10, 2010, Food

Hill Country Highlights

Recently, I was escorting my friend Linda Murphy around to various Texas wineries. She's just been assigned to write The Oxford Companion to Wine's American edition, and she was here to taste and learn. While at Fall Creek Vineyards, Jay Knepp of the Salt Lick Vineyard was delivering his new harvest of Tempranillo. Also on site was Alphonse Dotson, co-owner with his wife, Martha, of Certenberg Vineyards in Voca, Texas.

Linda and I sat down for a nice lunch with Ed and Susan Auler, owners of Fall Creek, and the Dotsons. The topic was Texas wine, and we tasted through most of the Fall Creek wines as well as Mr. Dotson's new release. Everything we tasted was good, but two wines stood out for their power, refinement, and intensity. The first was Fall Creek's Salt Lick Vineyard Tempranillo ($35), a wine worth every bit of its high (for Texas) cost because it's competitive with Old World wines in the same price range. The folks at Salt Lick Vineyard are obviously onto something. We had the wine with poached salmon, but that was for Linda's pescatarian leanings. It deserves a big slab of grilled steak.

Mr. Dotson is an interesting character. A football star at Grambling under world-famous coach Eddie Robinson, Alphonse went on to play defensive line for the Oakland Raiders. He's approaching his grape-growing, and now winemaking, with the same kind of fervor he used to crush little quarterbacks. His new wine, Certenberg Vineyards Gotas d'Oro Muscat Canelli, is a full-blown dessert wine in the character of a German Beerenauslese. It's also expensive at $28, but the quality is world-class.

Both of these wines are just making their way out into the marketplace and require a little hunting. Spec's in Houston has them, so hopefully they'll show up here soon. In the meantime, visit Eddie V's, the Carillon, or TRIO at the Four Seasons to try out the Tempranillo. A few Twin Liquors locations carry the Certenberg wine. Or, to get either the Muscat Canelli or the Tempranillo, take the pleasant 60-minute drive out to Tow, Texas, home of Fall Creek Vineyards. Both wines are recommended to anyone who wants to know how good Texas wines can be.

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