Monday, May 14, 2012

17. A Summer Day

Me and my hat.
17. A Summer Day

The wine bottle is
my twin: inside, a sense of cool
lingers but drips with sweat.

From our shady spot, looking towards the tents.
Saturday the fifth, I braved the already summer heat to join the festivities at Bending Branch Winery (see my live blog post Bending Branch Derby Party). My husband and co-conspirator Sean, from Wine and Savages (a role playing -- thinking D&D -- and wine blog), helped me blog the day away. When we arrived, a little before three, everything was in full swing: wine was flowing, food was available, and the jazz was swinging. People spread across the lawn at Bending Branch, collecting in every shady spot. Despite the heat, we were all set to have a good time.

And that is the thing: the heat. It was a bad Saturday afternoon. Temperatures soared into the 90s quickly, which might not have been as bad, but humidity went with it (we saw incredibly fierce thunderstorms about ten hours later that left several inches of rain throughout the area). The heat was oppressive, which left me with only one option: white wine. As a primarily red drinker, I am always a bit leery about drinking a lot of white, but things turned out well.

First was a bottle of Picpoul Blanc -- also covered at Wine and Savages with a picture of my hat. The "lip-stinger," as they refer to it at Bending Branch, was a good way to start. This dryish white was refreshing. It had enough fruitiness to make typical white wine drinkers happy -- the notes of ripe peaches and other softer stone fruits (like apricots). Of course, it also hints at apples -- especially the golden delicious and other lighter green varieties -- and pears. There is a subtle sugary taste that is very fruit forward. This flavor goes well with summer. In fact, early peaches are already coming up in the areas around Bending Branch -- many of Fredericksburg's and Stonewall's farms had fresh peaches for sale at roadside stands this weekend. But it isn't only fruit forward. This wine has a hint of acid -- hence the "lip-stinger" title -- that lessens the sugary tasting punch. The drinker is left with a more even flavor, one that doesn't just sit in the mouth (like sweeter whites do) or just slip by (like a dry white). A gentle, refreshing aftertaste is left. And in summer, this is much appreciated. The only problem, even with some cold help (the folks at Bending Branch provided cold packs for the whites), the wine warmed quickly. Luckily, this did not hurt the flavor; it became softer, which was refreshing in its own way.

Next was the Mint Juleps. No hard liquor here; this wine-based variety was light and airy. The single barrel Blanc used was subtle and soft. With crushed mint and ice added, the drink became even lighter. This is something a person could easily drink all day. The concoction was simple and light. It only hinted at sweetness; I feel the mint and ice diluted the sugar and made the drink more palatable for red drinkers. However, the mint added a zing not found in whites, something with a hint of complexity. The drinker had a bit more weight thanks to the mint, but not so much that it didn't go well on a summers day.

And yes, as a red drinker, I finished the day with the 2009 Tannat RF, 1840. This wine is smooth and silky. I would hate to say this, but it is a sexy red. The fruit is smooth and subtle, same as the rich tannins. One would think a wine named for tannins would be very heavy, but for some reason, these folks have a smooth wine. I had a feeling the smooth nature of the red would be okay for such a hot day, and I was right. The spicier Souzao would have been a bit problematic, but the Tannat was just right. Now I did consider the Texas Tannat -- Bending Branch uses California grapes for the Tannat I was drinking -- but it is not as smooth; it is rough like the landscape. And the landscape out there is a mess of hills -- up and down, and all around. But despite the un-eveness of everything, it is beautiful. The oncoming drought hasn't quite torched the area: soft green rolls dotted with the Spring's last wildflowers break up large canopied trees. It still feels lush, and that matches the Texas Tannat.

The winners. I lost to the lady on the far right.
Some of the crowd watching the Derby.
The day wound down with a hat contest -- I lost to the most incredible and over-the-top wine themed hat (mine was just too restrained and elegant) -- and the Kentucky Derby. Despite my loss, I am pleased with my hat, and so I have decided to make it my wine going hat. So, if you see the hat at a Texas winery, than you have found me (so come say hello). My husband Sean's hat was a fanciful creation -- he was the only adult male to participate. His hat was a tribute to the race and used generic My Little Pony cut outs -- see "My Stupid Hat". It was crazy and fun. Of course, we later found out that his strut was more popular -- while out on Sunday, he was congratulated for the walk. And the race, well it was fun. I do have to admit that they needed a large TV and more space; it was just too packed. Though I didn't win the big prize (there was a prize for the person[s] who called first, second, and third), I did choose I'll Have Another for the win; whom else should a wine blogger choose?

The Derby party at Bending Branch ended up being a good time -- people were slow to warm up to strangers (we felt a bit lost at first because we really didn't know anyone), but things got better as we got closer to race time. The wine worked well on a hot summer day, which, out here, is a big win. Now, I'll just have to wait till next year for the 3rd annual Derby Party.


  1. Robin, you are a wonderfully gifted writer and delightfully filled with great wine knowledge as well. We are so happy you and Sean joined us at Bending Branch for our DERBY PARTY and that you have written so very eloquently regarding it in your Blog. BENDING BRANCH WINERY OWNERS-BOB & BRENDA YOUNG

    1. I had a great time and hope to visit again really soon. Hopefully, we can chat and I can share more about your incredible winery. And I am so glad you guys are out at the Pearl Farmer's Market.


      CHEERS & DITTO, Robin. We would love to share our story and the sources of our dreams and passions, centered around BENDING BRANCH, Comfort and our emerging role in the TX wine world... and beyond. We believe the Pearl Farmers Market provides a unique exposure for us and are very pleased to be there. Do visit again SOON.