Monday, January 7, 2013

Wine Notes: Bending Branch and Pederrnales

Tuesday, Jan. 8 sees the first TX Wine Twitter Tuesday for 2013. I'm coordinating the event at San Antonio's own Vinously Speaking. The wine line-up includes a number of recent releases from Bending Branch Winery and Pedernales Cellars. I have been lucky to already taste these great wines.

Wines for TX Wine Twitter Tuesday @ Vinously Speaking

The three wines available -- a Tempranillo, Tannat, and Albranio -- are ones that require time and patience. These are wines that ask the drinker to sip, to explore their depths.

Layers of greenery
give way: an expanse of fruit
nestled, protected.

Bending Branch Winery

Newsom Vineyards Tempranillo 2010

This wine saw release in November of 2012 and has been available at the winery and at the Pearl Farmer's Market in San Antonio.

When Bending Branch officially released this wine, Neal and Janice Newsom came for a visit to talk about their vineyard and grape growing/wine making in Texas. Neal provided a linguistic lesson to me, Russ Kane (@ Vintage Texas), and a gathering of Bending Branch family and friends. He explained some of the West Texas dialect, explaining the usage of y'all and fixin' to. Russ even provided a northern perspective.

The wine itself has been developing in the bottle. At first taste, I noticed an earthy aroma that was barely noticeable in the tasting; the oak of the barrel aging did come through lightly at the end. That aroma has softened, as well as the taste. This Tempranillo is now focusing on the other components, such as the berry front. The berry, originally, was heavy and clean; it moved naturally into the earth at the end. Now, the wine has a smooth darkness from beginning to end as the the berry and earth blend together. The new sensation is more subtle and crafted as the two flavors intertwine to add a depth to the berry flavor and a softness to the earth and oak.

Texas Tannat (Reddy Vineyards)

Bending Branch has become known for their Tannats. Until last year, the only Tannats available came from California grapes. As of Fall 2012, the Texas grown Tannat has dominated at the winery. This wine has also been available at the Pearl Farmer's Market.

Compared to earlier Tannats, this wine is softer. The sweet-like dark fruits -- I am thinking more in the line of a ripe dark plum or similar fruits -- originally gave way into a bold earth taste. Like the Tempranillo, the bottle aging has been kind. The earth is more pronounced from the beginning, bringing a more natural taste to the wine. The fruit has softened and has become one of a number of flavors. Compared to the Tempranillo, the fruit is still more pronounced.

Pedernales Cellars

Pedernales Cellars saw two January releases: Albarino and 2012 Vino Blanco. The Albarino will be available at the tasting at Vinously Speaking, but the new Vino Blanco will not.


This wine comes on strong with acidic citrus fruits like grapefruit. There is this sense of sweetness, but the wine is dry. In fact, the dryness coupled with the acid allows for a crisp wine that bites back (tried alongside the Picpoul Blanc -- aka Lip Stinger -- from Bending Branch makes it clear that the similar sensation is occurring here). As the wine softens through tasting, stone fruits, especially apricots, are more noticable. It is at this point that the acidicity starts to decline and the characteristic earthiness of Pedernales' wines starts to come through. It is this mix of sensations that made this wine drinkable on a cold winter day and yet will be a refreshing treat once the heat arrives.

Vino Blanco 2012

Though this won't be at the tasting, I thought it only fair to provide a quick review. This blend is still heavy on the Viognier, which can be easily noted. Like in previous years, Chardonnay and Chenin Blanc round out the blend (but in different proportions compared to the 2011). That helps this blend, as I saw it as more quintessentially Fredericksburg and Stonewall in flavor. Apple and peach come through, along with dried apricot. The wine ends up being light and soft, especially compared to the acidic Albarino.

These wines should be popular with the tasters at Vinously Speaking. Along with the three other wines, there are sure to generate lots of talk.

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