Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Wine Country Texas: Pedernales Cellars Tempranillo

Pedernales Cellars - pronounced "pur-deh-NAH-less" in Texan - makes Spanish and Rhône-style wines in Stonewall, Texas, using grapes grown in the Hill Country and High Plains AVAs.  Larry and Jeanine Kuhlken were true wine pioneers in Texas when they planted their first vineyard in the early 1990s.  Their son, David, is the winemaker for the family business.

The grapes for the Pedernales Texas High Plains Tempranillo 2010 are grown in the Reddy and Bingham vineyards in the Texas High Plains AVA.  The wine sells for $40.

On their website, they describe the winemaking process.  “Upon arrival at the winery, the grapes... underwent a thorough hand-sorting.  Following destemming and crush we choose to inoculate with a classic Rioja yeast strain.  Fermentation took place primarily in open small batch fermenters.  Throughout fermentation, the wine was stirred and managed by hand.  Pressing was done in small batches using a basket press applying only gentle pressure.  The wine was then aged for 15 months in predominantly American oak barrels with medium toast from choice coopers including Canton, Mistral, and A&K.  In accordance with our philosophy of minimal intervention, our 2010 Tempranillo saw very gentle handling using gravity flow wherever possible and underwent only minimal fining and filtering before bottling in the fall of 2012. The final wine is 100% Texas and 100% Tempranillo.”

The vintage was a favorable one for them.  “2010 was a year of good balance and ideal conditions for growing grapes here in the state.  In both the High Plains and the Hill Country a wet and cool winter was followed by a moderate spring and warm summer."

This Texas Tempranillo is inky black and really reminiscent of Rioja.  Blackberries and cherries dominate the nose and palate.  It's a big and bold wine, with massive fruit and great tannins.  There's no urgent need to give the wine time in a decanter, unless you like.  It is ripe and expressive when poured.  This is a great example of a burgeoning wine region finding out quickly what it should be doing.  The ripe fruit and tantalizing acidity show that the "T" in Texas stands for Tempranillo.

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