Piney Woods Country Winery and Vineyard.
Red and white Muscadine grapes grow in his vineyard in back of the tasting room, and for the fruit wines he uses only Texas fruit sourced from various parts of the Lone Star State.
Flies, according to the winery's website, "has been honored four times for his contributions to the Texas wine industry, by the Texas Wine and Grape Growers Association and has received over 70 wine competition medals. Most recently one gold, two silver and two bronze medals from the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo International Competition. Including 6 belt buckles, representing 3 International Best of Class awards and 3 Texas Best of Class awards."
Muscadine and fruit wines are nearly always relegated to the back seat of the wine car, if not the trunk. They are not exactly my cup of, well... wine, so it was nice to taste a few that were worthy of consideration.
Here is what the tasting lineup looked like on the day I sampled them.
Heart of Texas Noble - One of two dry wines the Piney Woods Country Winery produces - the rest are on the sweet side. This red Noble Muscadine wine has a savory, sour nose and a savory taste with a bitter note. Oak aged, it has been selected as a wine of the month by the Houston Post.
Noble Muscadine Rosé - Semi sweet and refreshing. I didn't have it with food, but I have found in the past that well-made Muscadine wines are greatly improved in a food pairing.
Pecan Mocca - Made from white Muscadine grown in Flies' vineyard, this is a pretty incredible effort. With a nose of ground coffee that jumps from the glass, this intense wine tastes like coffee and caramel, with a bit of tiramisu on the finish. Flavored, and one of their three best sellers.
Baked Peach - Another peach of a fruit wine, this one is actually baked at 90 degrees for 90 days - Flies' effort at simulating Madeira. Spicy cobbler on the nose and palate.
Blackberry - The most straightforward of the bunch, it's tart and fruity. Not too complex, but very tasty.
Sweetheart Magnolia - White Muscadine again, with a sweet and fruity pear-like palate.
Ports of Texas - A Port-style wine made from red Muscadine and fortified with brandy. Oak aged with a hint of chocolate. Only 14% abv.
Light Ruby Port - Not as sweet as Port usually is, but it does hit 16% abv. The savory note works in its favor. Aged in oak and brandy-fortified, it gives a hint of whiskey.
Amber Port - Vermouth-like and getting closer to Port-style alcohol at 18% abv, I like the citrus streak.
Texas Tawny Port - This is a fairly amazing Muscadine effort at 19% abv, blended with brandy. Spending six to eight months in oak, the wine actually looks older. A ring of brown shows at the edge of the glass. The oak and higher alcohol really masks the Muscadine flavor. Caramel and brown sugar flavors are a real treat. (Texas has tightened the restrictions on the use of "Port," I'm told, so the labeling will have to be changed this year.)
Orange Wine - A natch for a winery in a town named Orange, it's actually made from Texas Satsumas. A tart edge and finish and nectar-like. Surprisingly, there is not a great citrus play here.
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