High Plains Road Trip, Day 4 – McPherson Cellars and a Bonus

We were TIRED this morning and got a slow start. Perhaps staying up to watch some Jean Claude van Damme movie (and then falling asleep to it) didn’t help any, but oh well. At least we were up in time to enjoy breakfast at the hotel bistro. After that we trucked back up to the bedroom to organize a little bit and prep for the day’s visits.

Now you’d think that we could visit all the High Plains wineries on a four-day trek in Lubbock, but we can’t. We’re doing good to visit two a day, and it’s a miracle if we make three. It’s also a poor statement about (at least) one of the wineries if we spend so little time there that we can hit two more.

Please forgive my redundancy here, but although we are nuts about Texas wines, we are nuts about it because of Texas wine growers, Texas wine makers, Texas winery guides, and fellow Texas wine geeks. So we spend a lot of time at wineries talking to people.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m all about the grapes and the vats and the barrels – the process of wine making. In fact we ususally spend so much time at a winery because we want to hear the whole “grape to glass” story again knowing that we will learn something new or hear a new perspective on something we thought we knew. Every winery we visit brings new insights and information. Every wine maker has something different to say, and every bottle we open has a different story… where the grapes originated, how they were crushed and pressed, how they were fermented, how they were aged – if they were. It’s always different.

We don’t always get to meet with winery owners or wine makers when we visit a winery. Mostly because we don’t call or email to tell them that we’re coming and ask for a meeting. Even if that would make a difference – I can’t imagine getting a red carpet treatment at a winery because I’m an untrained blogger about wine – we want to see the wineries that “everyone else” get to see. This can be VERY disappointing sometimes because some wineries treat “the rest of us” as though all we want to do is get a free or cheap wine tasting. Admittedly there are a lot of people who DO want to get straight to the tasting be it because they are short on time (wanting to visit 5-6 wineries that day) or short on attention span (like I normally am).

When we walked in to McPherson Cellars in the heart of Lubbock’s Depot District we didn’t expect to see Kim McPherson behind the counter or waiting for us in his office. Firstly because he didn’t know we were coming. Secondly because he doesn’t know who we are.

The McPherson building resides in a former Coca-Cola bottling plant and they have kept the facility true to the 1930’s architecture. It is really nice, and they host events of all kinds to allow us to enjoy the different areas; patio area mixers, weddings, etc.

Fortunately for us, he left Celia in charge. Of course when we walked into the tasting room in our shorts and sandals and tee shirts (Navy Mom and Navy Dad), she must have thought that we were the “get to the free tasting” type of people. I don’t blame her a bit because we did look the part.

Julie tried to give her a hint by telling her right off that I blog about Texas wines, but I don’t think that she heard her clearly. When given the choice between going straight to tasting or getting a tour, I answered, “Talk before taste, please.” I’m strange like that. Sorry.

I can understand why people bypass the tours at McPherson Cellars. There’s not much there. They crush, press, and vat the grapes and juice at this building, but barrell age and store at other locations in the city. Celia glossed over the wine making process with us and, for once, we really didn’t hear anything new.

On our way back to the tasting room we talked a little more about blogging and Twitter Tuesday tastings, and we found some common ground with Celia in the people that we know and chat with. This seemed make a difference because when we started tasting, Celia opened up and gave us a wonderful experience. She explained the different wines, the source varietals, the processes, and answered Julie’s many questions about the source vineyards for the varietals.

We were very pleased to learn that although not all the grapes come from Texas, most of the out-of-state vineyards are in New Mexico. I talked about that yesterday, right? I think we agreed to rename New Mexico “Westest Texas”, right @racheljfanning?

Anyway, Celia really helped us choose the best set to taste from McPherson’s long list of available wines. Julie tasted the whites and sweets while I tasted a few whites and several reds. One thing I noticed about all of the reds I tasted: Kim knows how to balance the tannins! I tasted no “outliers” in the repertoire of reds, and though not all of them were outstanding, none of them had their flavor profiles out of whack. That’s quite a talent, I think.

The standouts:
* Shy Blush – This is actually a rosé instead of a blush, and one that Julie actually liked. We both have a disdain for most of the rosés that we try because of a certain taste that we have yet to be able to describe. If you read a reference to a rosé taste from me, it’s probably not a good thing. Well, the Shy Blush was slightly sweet with a fullness of flavor that had Julie planning to use it as a base for a Sangria with no addition of liquid other than fruit juice. That’s a compliment, I’m telling you.

* 2010 Reserve Viognier – a Bright Viognier with honey and apricot aromas leading to lemon and sour apple being added to the tongue. A smooth, light feel with hints of cream and butter finished of with a desire for more.

* 2009 La Herencia – A blend of of Tempranillo, Mourverdre, Grenache, Cariagnane, and Syrah, this wine is a wonderful blend that delighted my nose with maraschino cherries enveloped in tanned leather and a very mild side of licorice. On the tongue, this blend treated me to a very even mix of cherry, blackberry, white pepper, and a hint of wheatgrass. This gave it an earthiness that I soaked in for as long as I could. With probably the most pronounced tannins I tasted all day, they were still completely balanced with the flavors and other senses to permit a perfect bite, finishing off with a smokiness that made me want more. Two bottles, please.

Here’s the bonus…

* 2010 Reserve Roussanne – This Bingham Vineyard sourced Rousanne is a 230 case very limited production that I really wish was available for wider distribution. Why? I’m going to try to sell you on it. I was able to taste in two syllables what many people look for in three.

Huh?

I’ll take this Roussanne over Chardonnay. Personal preference I know, and I’m part of the wine il-literati, so I’m wide open for rebuke, scorn, and general disdain from many. Nevertheless, This UNOAKED wine had the lusciousness of an oaked Chard, IMO. Slightly creamy but not buttery. The cellar description says “a candy lemon drop flavor and a delicate, herbaceous, tea-like aroma, and finishes with delicate creaminess.” About the “candy lemon drop” – I could taste the powdered sugar that coats the outside of lemon drops. And, as is my habit, I tasted all of this BEFORE I read the cellar notes. Two bottles, please – I wish I could afford a case, though.

What I feared would be a failed visit turned into an eye-opening delight never to be forgotten. Thank you, Celia! Thank you, Kim McPherson!!

And thank you grape growers across Texas and Westest Texas (New Mexico) for the passion you have poured into your grapes. More on this tomorrow…


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