Poor Julie. You know, she really must love me. My little bit of OCD really kicked in today and I acted a bit beyond rational and drove all the way from Pearland to Bend, TX so we could visit Alamosa Wine Cellar. It”s 5-1/2 hours each way. Well, we made it there in 4-1/2 because everyone else on the roads were in a hurry, so all we had to do was keep up. But what in the world would drive me (pardon the pun) to have to do this trip in a single day?
Last month we got involved in the Tuesday Texas wine Tweet Chat – probably not the official name – where they announce some wines that will be featured on the first Tuesday of the month @ 7:00 pm. Our job is to procure one or more of those wines, taste it during the Tweet chat, and tweet with the maker / grower / seller of the wine. Last month we tested wines made from several grapes grown by the Bingham Family Vineyard, and we just happened to have one of them on hand.
During the Tweet chat we “met” (online, of course) several winemakers from Texas and started tweeting with them; one of whom was Jim Johnson of Alamosa Wine Cellars (@AlamosaWineGuy) and his wife Karen (@AlamosaWine). Whenever we”d tweet about heading to the hill country to visit wineries, Jim or Karen would make sure we knew that we”d be welcome there, but it was always so far away. I had tried to fit it into a day trip right after last month”s tweet chat, but we couldn”t quite get that far in time. Ah well…
When they announced the April Tweet chat wines, I was kicking myself for not having made the trip. We will be tasting three wines from Alamosa; the Scissortail, the Texacaia, and the El Guapo. Well, pooh. Julie tweeted that although we”d be on for the chat, we didn”t have any of the wines to taste. A little later I received a message from Jim asking for my address, and a couple of days after that we had two of the Alamosa wines at our house!!
I”m the kind of guy that when someone goes out of their way to help me out, I really have to meet them, and Jim”s gift was one of those things that bugged me in the best possible way. So this morning after we got fueled up on our Starbucks, I headed West on I-10, then Northwest on 71, then… you get the picture. What I didn”t do until we hit Ellinger was tell Julie where we were going. Like I said, she must really love me, because she just texted the guys at home and told them we”d be late. Thank you, Clay.
Julie does all the online research, so when we go a vineyard / winery, I really don”t know what to expect. Is it online slots going to be a Duchman or Stone House polished set up, or more like McReynolds, all homey? (You have GOT to see the old piano he”s rebuilding at McReynold”s!). I really get nervous when it seems like we”re heading to BFE, but I”ve already blogged about that.
When we got to Alamosa, we immediately started taking pictures of the vineyards and winery. Not super-polished, but neither were the dogs barking at our car as we drove up. It was all… Texas. Comfortable. Friendly. And definitely part of the Way Out Winery trail. No cell signal. But I”m smart.. I checked for WiFi, and (thank you Jim) there it was. We tweeted our arrival just in case Jim happened to be around.
Stephanie, their tasting guide, was helping a small family when we arrived and offered to serve us with them (they were just starting), but since we had promised a friend that we”d take some pictures for them, and so I wouldn”t forget that promise, we declined and looked around and took pictures. We”ll get them to you in the morning, Jeff.
When Stephanie finished with the family, we jumped right in and started tasting – Julie focusing on the sweets while I worked on the dry whites and reds. Pretty soon Jim walked in the door, so I introduced myself and Julie.
Julie swears that Jim and I are twins with different parents. We don”t look alike, but we got along GREAT. I think what demonstrated that most to Julie was when a customer asked Jim, “How long have you been here?” he replied, “Since about noon.” Oh yeah, we”re going to get along just fine.
Jim had stirred up a hornet”s nest on Twitter right before we arrived, so we talked some about the whole Texas wine labelling issues, but more importantly we talked about his wines. We”ll talk more about them on Tuesday at 7, so I won”t say a whole lot now except that we left with a mixed case of wines. Now mind you, we don”t buy every TX wine that we like; we buy the wines that we believe represent the absolute best in Texas wines – wines that we want to feature in a Texas Wine Tasting to be held at our house, hopefully later in April. And wines that we just want to make sure we have at home for ourselves.
Our favorites from Alamosa Wine Cellars:
- 2008 Viognier
This was the first wine I tasted, so my palate wasn”t affected by earlier tastings, and it was flat-out good.
I still don”t trust my nose-to-finger descriptions yet, so the best thing I can say is that it was refreshing like fresh apples, all crisp; though I picked up the slightest grapefruit/tangerine and a hint of a sweet cherry. Just a hint. It left my mouth invigorated.
I”m not a huge white wine fan – well I wasn”t a huge white wine fan until I discovered Texas Viognier, Vermentino, and Blanc du Bois – but you Texas wine makers are really changing me over. Sure, nothing will beat a rich dry red in my book, but I didn”t even care for dry whites until you folks showed me the light. Yes, that pun was intended. groan
- 2008 Texacaia
Somewhere I have a note telling me all the grapes in Texacaia. I don”t really care, though. Jim has blended a very nice wine that hit home for me. All the standard really nice red descriptors fit: cherry, plum (prune for you geeks like me), oak. I could taste a little tobacco, and that works well for me – a hint of pepper, too? Gee, I”ll have to open one of the bottles again on Tuesday and tweet about it. Bummer. NOT
- Amigo White
This is an off-dry that Julie really liked. I asked her to describe it for my notes, but she just looked at me and said, “GOOD.” OK, that works. We left with three of those. Chill some Amigo White and sit on the back porch sipping. I don”t think they will last that long before we”re heading back for more.
- Texas Premium Port
Oh yeah, Baby! I think Jim mentioned it was at 16% (18%?) before adding the brandy. Once again, I may have gotten that fact wrong because I really didn”t need that information to know that it was one of the best Texas ports I”ve tried. And I try the ports wherever we go. By the time we got to the ports, we were enjoying our conversation and I stopped taking notes. Jim”s a whole lot more interesting than note-taking, that”s for sure.
Oh! This Wednesday Jim will be bottling two wines: The Estate Viognier, and the Amigo Pink. He told us that Karen insisted that he make an Amigo Pink to go along with the Amigo White and the Amigo Red. Smart Lady, Karen is. We were able to snag a preview of the Viognier, and if he had determined the pricing already, we would have pre-ordered and paid for a case. He didn”t have the Amigo Pink finished, but we got a taste of the “base” wine. Yeah, it”s going to be a winner, I think.
We also got a taste of his latest Syrah that I think is close to bottling (Jim, correct me if I”m wrong) and I want to get a bottle or two when it”s ready. I really want to try it with a fresh palate.
There”s only one thing wrong with Alamosa Wine Cellars that I can think of right now… I was so ready for a great steak after our visit, but J5 Steakhouse was too far out of the way. Okay, it”s not Jim”s fault that no one has opened a killer steakhouse in Lampasas, but it still sucked.
Thank you, Jim, for making the round trip worth every mile.