This Texas Chardonnay Writes a Surprising Story

Texas Hills Vineyards‘ 2016 Chardonnay Estate (Texas Hill Country) 13.5% Alcohol

This Texas Chardonnay is an exception

Your surprising experience will unfold from start to finish as you savor this wine.  A noteworthy Texas Chardonnay is in itself a surprise.  Texas is not noted for its Chardonnays — bar a few exceptions.  This is one of those exceptions.

Begin your surprising experience here

A full, ripe aroma confirms what you saw in that brilliant golden hue.  It offers ripe apple and pear aromas on a  clean, lemony base with reminders of rose scents, too — and if you concentrate, a hint of butter.  

Continue the experience as you taste

Then, you taste. On your palate, the vibrancy of its acids come through and they build, keeping the wine fresh and lively all the way to a long, pleasing, cleansing finish.   This is a wine that will cut the fat of a wonderful, rich salmon dish or a full-fat cheese.  Surprising?  Yes!  And one seldom finds such a cleansing palate in this variety while still maintaining these full flavors.  The richer the Chardonnay, the more freshness it needs, and this Chardonnay has been well crafted.  

But there’s more.  Note: the taste is full and soft like the aroma, but it lasts and lasts as it coats your mouth.  It is what a Chardonnay should be: acids kept to complement the extraction of flavors while also presenting a full texture.  

Compare it with confidence

Compare it to a Californian Chardonnay and it is different.  It says to you, “This is me!  I’m from the Texas hills and you will never experience the same in other Chardonnays.”  Overall, it is an attractive wine.  And those who want to know what Texas is capable of achieving with this variety in the hands of a deft winemaker should taste this wine.  

Smooth but lively, it will awaken your senses any day of the year.  The surprise is that it comes from the hands and the soils of an unlikely place.  The reasons for this success is yet another story.  

Rating:  88 (This wine will keep and open up more with a little age).  

C.S. Vin   2-18-19

(Check out the author’s course on wine evaluation, “Experiencing Wine’s Wonders,”  at and make your own evaluation)

A True-to-Character Rosé

1851 Vineyards, LOC Rosé, 12.5% Alcohol, Texas High Plains 

What more could you ask for in a Rosé?

Everything you could ask for in a Rosé and more, this wine is pleasing, refreshing, light, not too viscous, but still possessing a fullness that satisfies.  And it has enough complexity to make it interesting — beautifully balanced, delicate, not so acid-driven that the flavors are lost.  Furthermore, it’s velvety, attractive, with a subtle emotional appeal.  This adds up to just the right experience.  And its right balance of Grenache — the go-to grape for Rosé — will do it.

Just the right amount of fruitiness and character

Southern France made Rosés popular, and Grenache (with a touch of color and phenolics bled from its skins) adds just the right amount of fruitiness and character to make this a wine to drink with pleasure in the company of friends.

The aromas greet us

Lemon, ripe melon, and a hint of Grenache’s dried strawberry and Ruby Red Grapefruit aromas greet us — and gently, too, at 12.5% alcohol.  Maybe we can detect a little orange blossom and a slight minerality that reminds us of Provence’s Rosés.  You will have 1851 Vineyards and Dabs Holloman’s palate to thank for this true-to-character Rosé.

This wine was tasted and evaluated at 59 degrees, so if you love Rosés, don’t drink them too cold or too warm.  They will offer their best at around this temperature.  

I would confidently give this wine an 89 rating.  

C.S. Vin 1-17-19

(Check out the author’s course in evaluating Wine, “Experiencing Wine’s Wonders,” and make you own evaluation)

Alicante Bouchet from 1851 Vineyards

1851- Vineyards 2016 Alicante Bouchet, Lahey Vineyard, Texas High Plains

Rising from indignity and growing on the Texas High Plains

This wine tells a story: the story of an Old World style (the style of European wines) and a grape that has risen from indignity to stand in its honorable place among the wines of the New World, reinventing itself but never losing the character of its roots.  The grape is Alicante Bouchet, a variety from southern France, now growing in many spots around the world, this impressive example being from the High Plains of Texas.

All these traits make it a great food wine

It’s a food wine, as the aroma’s should indicate — red fruits, dominantly raspberry’s zip with red cherry and some lesser undertones of blackberry to give it depth.  Brightness and abundant, refreshing acids signal how it will cut through the fats of a rich meal — think barbecue.  Strong, young tannins grip the palate, too, offering a tactile experience that you won’t miss and shouldn’t miss.  And the tannins, being acids, add yet more zest to its impressions.  Don’t forget, there is health in those tannins.  1851 Vineyards has offered us a fine introduction to this grape. 

This Alicante Bouchet has Old World character

Along with what you might have already detected in the wine, there is a pleasing lattice of mineral elements.  Among them is the kind you might remember from the smell of wet pavement, which signals again its Old World character.  When fruit and more fruit can become too much fruit, this wine will take you on a much-needed, pleasant journey.  Oh, and there’s a reminder of cedar, and a moist forest floor with, perhaps, a touch of fresh-cut oak to add yet more to its complexity as it ends with a medium to long, strong finish.

Cranking up that grill?  Enhance the meal with this well made wine.  If you haven’t met this wine before, enjoy a new and appealing experience.  Welcome to Alicante Bouchet from 1851 Vineyards and to an excellent wine from Texas soil.  

Rating 89, with healthy phenolics to boot.  

C. S. Vin 1-20-19

(Check out the author’s course in evaluating Wine, “Experiencing Wine’s Wonders,” and make 

Texas Grapes Make “Beginnings 2016” Exciting

Glasses of red wine on old barrel with autumn leaves
1851 Vineyards Estate “Beginnings” 2016, 13.8% alcohol

Full of fruit without being all fruit

Who can dislike a wine that creates a powerful exciting response on first taste?  This wine, made from Texas grapes, is exciting because it is full of fruit without being all fruit.  What keeps it from being the proverbial “fruit bomb” is the depth and complexity of its aromas that follow through to an explosive consistent taste experience.  Is it all fireworks and excitement?  No, it is a truly cerebral experience, too.

These aroma notes entice thoughts of its profound, obscure depths

Blackberry, with side notes of raspberry and strawberry, follow the initial violet aroma.  Black pepper and clove spice up the presentation with a hint of minerality. A warm, sweet vanilla note accompanies coconut, fresh leather, and unmistakable dark chocolate that is calling to you.  This jewel of a wine from Texas grapes is making you think of its profound, obscure depths as well as its attractions.

A 50/50 blend of two grape varieties

It’s a 50/50 blend of Petite Sirah and Malbec.  A touch of earthiness confirms the presence of the Petite Sirah.  The mouthfeel is rich and full, coating all it touches with its tactile viscosity — a really full and complete wine.  

With this character, can you resist it?

It’s balanced, with a firm structure and refreshing acids plus fine tannins that, together, lead you to wonder about just how long you can resist drinking it.  Not long, on my watch!

“Beginnings 2016” has a medium length finish.  Is it balanced?  Yes, but it’s a balance that has not divorced character.  It will be remembered, and I think you will remember it, too.  This is a wine for special occasions and a wine that will make the occasion if you don’t have one.  

A careful evaluation has given it a rating of 92.  Well done!

C.S. Vin   1-14-19

(Check out the author’s course in evaluating Wine, “Experiencing Wine’s Wonders,” and make you own evaluation)

1851 Vineyards Estate Tannat

While some may consider it unlikely to find a great Tannat in Texas, 1851 Vineyards is a winery that deserves our attention with their impressive 1851 Vineyards Estate Tannat wine from the 2016 vintage. 

A hue and aroma that is true to Tannat

Immediately, this Tannat excites dry-red-wine drinkers with its deep purple, almost black hue.  The extraction is full, with dark fruit notes of blackberry and black plum, warmed with a harmonious integration of vanilla and a hint of cinnamon.  Detect touches of honey as well, along with floral notes, cloves, and dark chocolate. The aroma is persistent and shows little sign of fading in the glass. 

A silky smoothness that softens the typical punch of Tannat

A truly silky mouth-feel softens the punch (something for which this grape is known), which is expected from such a powerful wine.  Additionally, this wine possesses a viscous body that leaves the mouth coated for a long-lasting experience of its rich flavors. 

Flavor and strength of tannin add their impressive contributions

The flavors, as do the aromas, show the skill of producing balance while preserving the wine’s character.  Adequate acid encourages salivation and keeps a refreshing brightness that so many deep wines lose. 

The tannins begin their grip on the mid-palate and expand as the finish approaches.  For a wine of such strength, the finish of this Tannat is soft and graceful and, of importance, totally devoid of bitterness.  In fact, the tannins are fine and soft.  So, as it ages, it will no doubt offer a complete integration. 

At 13.5% alcohol, the wine is well balanced overall with more than sufficient fruit to keep alcohol and tannins in balance — truly great wine.   

A rating of 91 to 93 can well be expected as the wine ages.  You will find it hard to resist, though, and it may end its life in its youth, as my first bottle did. 

C. S. Vin  11-5-18

(Check out the author’s course in evaluating Wine, Experiencing Wine’s Wonders, and make your own evaluation).