Wednesday, October 24, 2012

WW: Politics and Religion @ Hilmy Cellars

This past weekend, I had the opportunity to try a brand new release at Hilmy Cellars. The 2010 Politics and Religion red blend has been a mystery since the winery opened. From the very beginning, release dates were sketchy, but everyone knew something was coming. Early estimations had been July, but that month went and passed with no word. But as the Fall wine shipment appeared on the horizon, teasers came out. And before we all knew it, the new blend was about to see the light of day.

Politics and Religion at the tasting release party

A Little Back Story

This is one of the early wines made by the winery, but it was been left aging for quite awhile. This is a 2010 vintage that was bottled only days before the unveiling -- Tuesday and Wednesday before the Saturday release. As of right now, this wine has had time to develop in the barrel, and the early taste shows that this aging added a lot of earthiness and oak to the flavor. However, this wine is still very new to the bottle; the flavors are not yet melded and balanced, still struggling in their new container. It is still drinkable at this time, but it will be best left to rest in the bottle for a bit. I would easily estimate a few more months, so maybe a Christmas pairing is in order.

This blend is comprised of a popular Texas grape, Mourvedre, and the always blendable Merlot. The grapes make a nice pairing, bringing two different approaches to a wine. Without any other major grapes added, both are able to sing out. And that is perfect considering the quality of the grapes. The grapes come from Andy Timmons' Lost Draw Vineyards in the High Plains. The heritage of the grapes adds to the developing success of the blend.


Right now, the dark fruit flavors are the powerhouse here, a dominating force throughout the entire tasting experience. They stride forth with the just the aroma. Dark fruit, especially the deeper berries (and to a lesser degree, plum) are strong from first smell to final taste. In fact, upon first tasting, the fruit is bold and heavy; it is a weight that settles in and fills everything. It is a sense of decadence with such powerful fruit.

The fruit starts to soften around mid-palate as the earth and oak begin to emerge. There is a strange dustiness to the final essence, like the ground beneath the summer sun. The earth and minerals tend toward this drier sense, playing with the hint of oak that seems just out of reach.

At this point, the fruit and earth are not well balanced. The fruit seems to rest on top of the earth, almost like a thick blanket on a cool day. This isn't unpleasant; the great flavors are clear and tasty,  drawing the taster back. But the wine is still young in the bottle. The earth has not collected and strengthened to match the fruit, and so they have not quite come together to create a more unified experience. However, towards the end, as both slowly fade, the earth is stronger, almost a match for the fruit. Here the flavors begin to weave. This was the sign I was looking for (a trait I noticed in the Vintage Texas Tannat from Bending Branch). This lush and desirable flavors are just starting to get to know one another in the bottle. Until they do, the one that comes first will remain dominate; however, with time, the other will grow stronger and join with its partner. In time, this wine will have a rich and luxurious complexity that will be a delight (just as I suspect from the Vintage Tannat).

Visual Tasting

This wine, right now, is an early summer, one that has already seen the force of the sun and the heat. The ground is dry, the loose grains rustling in a heat driven breeze. A few inches down is just more loosening dirt, lightening in color. Here it is not soil; it is not unified. However, just a little further, the ground darkens, softens, and knits together in the tightest of weaves. It is hidden and waiting for just the right moment to reach toward the sky.

And along this ground creeps dark green weeds. Clover and similar hearty plants dance along the surface of the loose dirt. The dirt can only be seen in patches, a hint visible through the skeletal lace of the tendrils and vines that reach out from the root. These tangled vines creep and crawl along the dirt, lacing their way along the surface, touching only lightly; the contact is limited. But at that root, those same vines turn into a great vein that suddenly dives deep and reaches for what hides beneath. It desires the comfort and strength of the soil; it reaches out to join with it. The two are almost one here, invisible to the sun's gaze. They hide and wait until the rains come, until the sun dims, and a new season allows them to fully be what they are meant to be.

Like the weeds that struggle through the harshest Texas summers, the wine waits until the right moment is upon it. At that time, the flavors will come together into something all its own. The weeds will wait, keeping their light dominance over the dust and soil (just as the fruit stays on top). When Fall rains arrive to soak the surface, the vein and soil below will reach up, gathering the tendrils to them, and a blanket will spread and fill the land, a carpet of green and lush scents only possible when the earth and plants are one. If we can just wait, the dust in the wine will clear, grow into a lush earthiness that will mingle and weave into the fruit to make a wine that will be one that all will agree on, unlike the two topics the name evokes.

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