New Year’s Jewels: Best wines ever from Texas?
We received the loveliest of complements from Fernando de Luna of Vintages 2.0, San Antonio’s retailer of rare and fine wines, in our inbox this week. We were so honored and proud that we decided to share his kind words with you.
Thank you, Fernando, for speaking so highly of our pride-and-joy, our newly released ExTerra wines.
Fall Creek’s EXTERRA Red Wines from Salt Lick Vineyard, Texas… “Outstanding American Wine” - James Suckling: “American Wine Revolution” report in October 2018 JamesSuckling.com
Having tasted Texas wines for the 40 years I’ve been in the wine trade, these new releases from Ed and Susan Auler’s EXTERRA are for me the finest, most characterful Texas red wines I have ever tasted. I know that is quite a statement as there are many other wonderful wines grown and made from Texas fruit. But these limited edition wines made in tiny quantities (44 to 134 cases per wine) grown in the Salt Creek Vineyard south west of Austin and carrying the Texas Hill County AVA, signal in the fullest sense of the word that these are wines of terroir… meaning that they reflect the vineyard’s character and the human skill and sensibility that went into the growing and making of wine from those grapes grown in that vineyard. It’s appropriate that Ed and Susan Auler have named these ExTerra, Latin for ‘From the Earth’.
When Ed Auler came by the office/store last month to have me taste these wines I expected they would be very good examples though I also fully expected them to be made in what for me is the expected exaggerated New World style. By which I mean the wines would show the naturally clement conditions of a very warm climate and translate these into at best a one-dimensionally ripe, if not overripe fruit tricked out with the obvious makeup of too much expensive, heavily toasted new oak. Characteristics that are still too prevalent in most top-end Texas and New World red wines for this Old World trained palate.
One sip of the ExTerra Syrah 2016 (only 44 cases made) and I was taken aback: here was a wine that, yes, had classic varietal notes of ripe plum, pepper, and violets but these combined in a balanced complexity of harmony and length with spice and a certain, for lack of a better word, minerality metaphorically speaking; here was a beautifully elegant wine that from its core expressed that undefinable yet unmistakable character of a good to great vineyard. I thought this was a wine that would do a southern French Rhône proud…and it was from a vineyard outside of Ausitn, Texas!
Next was an equally superb expression of a 2016 ExTerra Mourvèdre (134 cases made): dark red fruit tones, dark spice and dark olive, full-bodied, supple, with mysterious depths of flavor. I could have been drinking a Bandol.
To finish the range a superb 2016 ExTerra Tempranillo (72 cases made): luscious and lifted red strawberry and cherry fruit tones, a wine that shows Tempranillo has indeed found a good home in Texas. The subtle spice tone from the oak kept the wine from reminding me of a great, traditional Rioja Gran Reserva but it did remind me of one of the new wave Rioja that forgo long aging in American oak in order to emphasize the vineyard and its fruit.
I can’t recommend highly enough that you try these wines if you want to experience an entirely whole new dimension to what Texas can achieve. The wines are very limited.
Critical acclaim has started with these wines: James Suckling, formerly head Bordeaux critic for the Wine Spectator wrote of the wines as follows: <br< 2016 Tempranillo: “91 points: Blueberries and currants on the nose with some blackberry leaf, too. The palate has ripe, plush and pronounced wooded style with ripeberries and an assertive, plush finish. It's a boldy convincing tempranillo. The Toro of Texas? This has promise! Drink or hold.”
2016 Syrah: “90 points: A brambly array of raspberries and blackberries with licorice and stony, slate-like notes. The palate carries attractive depth of flavor with good oresence on the finish…A lot to like here. Drink now.”
2016 Mourvèdre: “A smoky and savory, slightly meaty nose with slate and blue-plum aromas. The palate has deep and earthy ripe-plum flavors with a handy hold on the finish. Drink now.”
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