Inwood Estates Winery – Texas Hill Country Wine at its Best

14 Nov

The best thing about the Texas Hill Country is probably the beauty of the surroundings.  One of the prettiest areas of Texas, there are rocky hillocks, pretty streams and rivers all amidst a rolling countryside studded with post oak and cedar.   The next best thing about hill country is probably the wine (although the great barbecue joints are, collectively, a strong runner-up)!   

The southernmost AVA (American Viticulture Area) and also one of the largest at over 14,000 square miles, the Texas Hill Country has been growing in popularity as well as in viticulture and oenology skills for almost 30 years.  Many of the wineries in the area also blend grapes from other regions in Texas (most notably the high plains) to attain brighter acidity and increased complexity.  Several wineries in the Fredericksburg area stand out for producing excellent Texas wines, and my favorites of those I have tried, are probably Rancho Ponte, Messina Hof, Grape Creek Vineyards, and Inwood Estates.  One of these, Inwood Estates ( produces wine that is not only excellent by Texas standards, but is truly competitive with California as well as old world wines.  In fact, winemaker Dan Gatlin hosts “super tastings” where Inwood wines are comparatively tasted next to their equivalent old world examples.  Not just any examples, but the good stuff: a Premier Cru Chablis is tasted next to Inwood’s Chardonnay, for example.   

Inwood is somewhat of a pioneer in the area for growing and vinting Tempranillo, and this expertise shows in their Tempranillo varietal and blended wines.   During a tasting there yesterday, the friendly and professional tasting room host, Mary, provided us the 2012 Tempranillo which is an excellent equivalent to a Crianza from Rioja with the classic sour cherry fruit and a touch of spice.  When Mary learned that I was a Certified Specialist of Wine (Society of Wine Educators), she smiled and brought out a 2006 Reserve Tempranillo.  Wow!  I liked the young wine, but the aged (in French Oak) version was outstanding.  Soft tannins, earthiness and leather perfectly balance with the fruit.   Two other highlights of our tasting were a beautiful Margaux-style Bordeaux blend and a red dessert wine.  The Margaux style blend was not as restrained as the left bank examples but just as complex, with nice balance and medium long finish.   The “Rubyna” dessert wine is made in the Oporto style with Tempranillo and Cab Sauv fruit.  We simply had to buy some bottles of this – lush fruit, sweet without being syrupy, with a smooth finish; just a delightful sipping wine.

For anyone curious about new world wines outside of the typical California, South America or Australia standards, I highly recommend heading to the hill country of Texas.   And bring an appetite for barbecue – you won’t be disappointed.

#TexasWine, #TexasHillCountry


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