Wednesday, October 10, 2012

WW: William Chris Wines' Enchante

William Chris Wines is one of the friendliest wineries along the Texas 290 wine trail. The staff is quick to welcome every visitor and work to make the newcomer feel like a part of the William Chris family. And once someone joins Hye Society, the wine club, a new family member is inducted. This spirit of friendship is expressed well in the winery's signature blend, Enchante. This wine is a wonderful introduction; it is a friendly and relaxed greeting that makes the drinker feel right at home.


This Texas Hill Country red blend is mainly Merlot with a good proportion of Cabernet Sauvignon and Malbec. It is evened out with Cab Franc and Ruby Cabernet. This unfiltered wine spends twelve months in new French and American oak.

The current 2010 blend is a strong red with rich fruit scents on the nose. These ripe, dark berries dominate the palate during tasting. Despite this fruit forward nature, the wine is not sweet; it is a lush dry red. This is made possible by the hint of the Texas terroir, the mineral nature so common in much of the Texas soil, coming out, at first, at the end of the taste.  With continual tasting, the essence of minerals and soil comes through a bit more, starting at the middle of the palate. This flavor sits just underneath the fruit and intermingles with the fruit as one continues to sample the wine. At this point, a deeper complexity starts to take shape as the two flavors intertwine and mingle to make a wine that is not so easy to pinpoint. The aftertaste becomes increasingly harmonized between the two, making a pronounced last flavor. This flavor then melts away inviting the drinker to take another sip.

Visual Tasting

My first thought leaned towards the serene and a concept of two seemingly different parts going together. This made me think of a smooth, fluid brook that is taking its time as it makes its way through a wooded area.

The brook is at a state of ease while also moving. It flows naturally, unhindered, as it makes its way on its own time. There are no obstructions, no rocks or debris, littering and disrupting its path. This stream is idyllic, much like the taste of berries that predominates the wine.

The banks are the most interesting part. The stream has no defined edges. Instead, it melds with the grasses and soil that edge it. In some places the brook laps at the soil, and at others, the grass grows out into the water. The two seem intertwined; they fit together and cannot be taken apart. This is like the tannins and mineral quality of the wine that settles into the fruit but doesn't overpower it.

And of course, this stream is dotted with berry bushes. Blackberries and deep red raspberries pop up now and again. The berries are ripe; some are beginning to ooze and attract the occasional bee. The scent takes flight on the movement of the stream and fills the landscape. This is a place to rest against a tree and take a moment to drink it all in. Enchante asks for the same.

Secondary Tasting: A Real-Life Connection

The large oak behind the tasting rooms at William Chris, June 2012
 After I saw the stream, I thought back to the winery itself. The lands behind the current tasting room (and the new one that is nearly ready and looking great) include a large, beautiful oak and a great growth of natural Texas. This of course links well with my image. But this is not what I think about when I think of William Chris. I think about the people. And then it hit me: this wine is William Chris.

As I mentioned earlier, the winery is one of the friendliest. Every time I arrive, I am quickly welcomed. Someone sights me and calls out a greeting. Before long, I find myself hugged. I love this. I love the friendships I have formed at this winery. This matches the comfort and naturalness of the mingling flavors in this wine.

Bill Blackmon
But, this wine is also the two men at the helm: Bill Blackmon and Chris Brundrett. The two men in charge project very different personalities, but they are ones that blend well together. Chris is the fruit flavor of the wine. He is the obvious face of the winery, much like Enchante's fruit forward nature. I can't leave the premises without a hug from him. He welcomes everyone in his natural down home way. On the other hand, Bill is a quieter. He, like the tannins and minerals, tends to hide behind the larger personality. But also like those flavors, he shows to be a very important figure that is crucial to the overall success.This is evident in his dedication to the vineyards that supply the winery with some of the most incredible grapes.

Chris Brundrett
In the end, Enchante is a wine to sit back and enjoy. It is easy to grab a bottle, find a comfortable shady spot, and let the day pass at the winery in Hye. Even at home, the tension slips away, and I feel transported and comforted by this wine. It is a good friend from a winery that wants to make every visitor a friend. 

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