Monday, September 30, 2013

Texas Tempranillo: Llano Estacado Winery

We have visited this west Texas winery in the Now And Zin Wine Country series before.

Recapping for those who don't like clicking into the past, Texas played a big role in helping the Europeans recover from the 19th-century phylloxera epidemic.  Horticulturist Thomas Munson used rootstock from wild Texas Mustang grapevines to give French grape growers a way to rebound.  The French government honored him for his effort.  Too bad the French couldn't have helped us out on that Prohibition thing, which killed off the wine biz in Texas and most other states.

Llano Estacado Winery, in Lubbock, Texas, is one of the first modern day Texas wineries to pop up some forty years after Prohibition was repealed.  It’s located in the Texas High Plains AVA, one of eight American Viticultural Areas under the Lone Star.

In the eighties, President Reagan served Llano Estacado wine at the White House.  In the nineties, they served their wine to Queen Elizabeth when she visited Texas.  In 2005, Llano Estacado was served at President Bush's Inaugural Ball.  They must be doing something right.

Created from select small batches of wine, the 2011 Llano Estacado Cellar Reserve Tempranillo shows alcohol at just 12.5% abv and represents the Texas High Plains AVA very well.  The blend features Tempranillo grapes from Newsom Vineyard in Plains, TX and Reddy Vineyard in Brownfield.  There is some Merlot in there, too, also from Newsom.  It retails for $20.  I was provided a sample for review.

The wine is very dark - nearly see-through - and the bouquet is as fragrant as can be.  Blackberries and blueberries hold their own amid a nose full of tobacco, nutmeg and white pepper.  As I have found with Texas Tempranillo before, it smells like Rioja to me.  The palate is spicy, too, and has a farmers market full of dark fruit playing into a minty note that borders on eucalyptus.  Some very bright acidity rounds out a sip that can be described as very enjoyable.  The tannins are extremely smooth, but pairing with beef is perfectly alright.  It's good with goat cheese, too.

I don't think Llano Estacado markets the wine like this, but I think it would be great during the holiday season.  I always like a wine with a strong profile of spices for the holidays.  Of course, you don't have to wait.