Thursday, January 28, 2010

Driftwood Estate Winery

The week before Christmas, after we had our fill of BBQ heaven at  The Salt Lick, we wandered a few miles down CR170 to the Driftwood Estate Winery.  Our friends from Washington, Bob and Alison (of orgasmic raspberry jelly and honey fame), were with us.  As a winemaker and chef, Bob was interested in trying some Hill Country wines.  Me too. 
The winery perches on a hillside above fields of vineyards.  The tasting room and picnic area are simple but feel like home, if you're lucky enough to live in the eastern Hill Country between Wimberley and Dripping Springs.

After we'd petted the winery cat, tasted the wines and made purchases (even Bob, who has an overflowing wine cellar), we sat a spell looking over the valley, talking about how much fun it would be to have a party at the winery.  I'm guessing from the smoked coating on the BBQ barrel, they've seen their share of good times.

Driftwood Estate offers tastes of six wines for $5, or $10 if you want to keep the souvenir logo glass.  We only tasted red wines but I want to go back and try the viognier.  I'm in love with the floral and spice flavors of a good Viognier and am still looking for a Texas Viognier that makes my heart sing.

All of the Driftwood wines are made at the winery, but not all of the juice comes from Texas.  I know some folks might say these aren't Texas wines but I say we're lucky to have good wine-making in our state, especially wines at affordable prices.  You'll be happy to drink it once you try it.

The first four wines we tasted were made from a combination of 50% Texas juice and 50% California juice.  Gary Elliott, the owner, has a sister who raises grapes in Paso Robles, California so he has an 'in' for good juice.  The wines were nonvintage, which gives the winemaker the freedom to blend juice from different years to achieve a consistent style.

N/V Sangiovese - In-house, they call this a "Super-Texan", a Texas version of a Super Tuscan wine, 85% Sangiovese, 15% Merlot.   I liked the balance and the dark-berry fruit flavors.  Thought it would be food-friendly.  $16.00

N/V Lone Star Cab - My margin notes say, Good.  I got a grapey aroma to start, then lovely balance in the mouth, with dark fruit and a leather undertone.  Long, smooth  finish.    $20.00.

N/V Longhorn Red - 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Syrah. This was not my favorite.  I thought it more subdued, less fruit forward. But I might have liked it more with some time in the glass.  $18.00.

N/V Syrah - This was the only wine stated to include Driftwood-grown fruit.  Rated a GOOD in my margin. Deep cherry and dark chocolate flavors mingled.  Smooth finish.
        I wouldn't have liked this as much if Dana hadn't gone the extra step to aerate it for us.   Amazing how the wine opened up and the fruit came forward after that.  If you're lucky enough to have the Driftwood Estates Syrah, think about giving it some air before drinking.
   This would be an awesome complement to the Salt Lick's BBQ, or to Denny's for that matter.  We brought a few bottles home and put it away for the next time he fires up the barrel.

After the non-vintage flight, we tasted two reserve wines.  Both were made at Driftwood from 100% California juice from B & E Vineyard in Paso Robles.

2004 Cabernet Sauvignon -LOVELY, says my tasting sheet.  Rich, full, forward cherry fruit with a long dry finish. Silky tannins. One of my favorites of the tasting.   $20.00.

2005 Red Rhythm - 57% Merlot, 38% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 5% Cabernet Franc.  Plummy nose, Nice rich fruit.  I thought it was a bit jammy and wondered if it would be heading over the hill soon.  That could have been a characteristic of that particular bottle.  The only way to know if the vintage is passing the peak into the downswing would be to taste across multiple bottles.  I'd say if you like deep fruit, buy some and  drink now.  $20.00.

Our foursome, all experienced tasters, were impressed with the wines we tried; with the balance and complexity and lovely expression of fruit.

To visit Driftwood Estates, head for Wimberley or Dripping Springs on the Austin side of the Hill Country.  Check Driftwood Estate's  website for directions .  
     The website also has a listing of wines for sale. Folks who live in Texas and Minnesota can order by calling  (512) 692-6229.    If you like the wine, join the wineclub and receive automatic shipments.  No membership fee and you get a 20% discount.  You might also find Driftwood wines at the Austin Spec's stores and some of the smaller wine stores around the Hill Country.

If you don't live in Texas, come visit.  You'll be glad you did.

Words and photos by Kathleen Scott,for her blog Hill Country Mysteries. Copyright 2009-2010.
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