Wine of the Week: William Chris Vineyards
This Hye, Texas vineyard is worth a trip
The William Chris Winery resides in tiny Hye, Texas, about halfway between Johnson City and Stonewall. There, longtime grape growers Bill (William) Blackmon and Chris Brundrett decided to build their dream winery and show the world that they had talents beyond farming. They built their winery under a shady stand of old oaks in a beautiful house constructed back in 1905. And word that they were making special wines spread through the wine community as fast as it does through Austin's foodie world when a new Asian fusion trailer opens.
We had a chance to taste through several of their current wines. I'll specifically recommend two, though all are made to a high standard. Though they consider themselves a red wine operation, they make an exceptional white called Mary Ruth ($20). It's named for Bill's mom and she must be typical of her Texas High Plains home: pretty but with a touch of tartness and a bit of boldness. That rather well describes the wine, made from Orange Muscat, Chenin Blanc, and Grenache Blanc. It has attractive aromas with tart acidity and big flavors. Mary Ruth was a party favorite over the Labor Day holiday at our house. At the top of the William Chris list is Enchante ($42), a blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, and Cabernet Franc, all from the Granite Hill Vineyards in Willow City, Texas. This wine has young, tight tannins, so it benefits from being cooler and older. The reward is an Old World styled Bordeaux-blend that is very elegant and multifaceted. Ideally, you should keep it three or four years after the vintage, but if you can't wait, at least let it breathe for an hour or so. Serving it at cellar temperature (around 58 degrees) is ideal. Both wines are available at the winery, seven days a week. For an interesting and far-reaching interview with Blackmon, covering everything from life in the early days of the Texas wine business to which of Joe Ely's bands was the best, go to austinchronicle.com/blogs/food and look for William Chris Vineyards.