Tasting Notes: Dave Reilly’s Unlabeled Hill Country Blend

Waaaaaaaay back in March, Julie and I were able to attend the first Duchman Winemaker Dinner. At the end of the meal Dave poured from unlabeled bottles and told us the story of his “Hill Country Blend”. Totally experimental blend of grapes from the Hill Country – and I have no idea what the blend is.

I have to tell you that I thought it was pretty rough, BUT, there was this “something” in it that made me want to have a couple of bottles to sit on… 

As we were leaving, Dave gifted Julie and me with TWO bottles of the autographed blend and recommended that I open the first one in a couple of weeks, then the other one in a couple of months. I replied that I might open the first one in six months and the second one in a couple of years. I just felt like it would take that long for the blend to really blend and calm down.

Well, I’ve changed my mind. I opened the first bottle about 7 minutes ago and poured a glass. I’m going to let it sit and breathe while I finish my intro here, then I will “live blog” my tasting. Depending on how it goes, I may do a first tasting now and then another in an hour or so if I think the blend needs to open up more.

At the dinner some of the people raved about Dave’s blend. I don’t get it.

OK, here we go.

I have somewhat dim fluorescent bulbs in here, so that makes my somewhat color-blindness completely unreliable – so no comments on color, except that it’s dark.

I still get a slight mineral scent from it – in fact there were crystals on the cork when I pulled it. Jim Johnson told me what those are, but I forgot. Not a bad thing, though. For those who share my slight synesthesia and translate smell to color, this is maroon with brown overtones. No not maroon, a deep deep burgundy (color, not wine) with hints of brown. Totally confused?

OK, there are prunes… really really dry prunes. Concentrated really really dry prunes. Again, not a bad thing. I like prunes. Very slight mineral oil. I mean subtle. Licorice. Yep, licorice. Nope, no forest floor here, but perhaps a hint of tanned leather. And black pepper.

Yep, that’s dark. Now for a sip.

The mouth feel hits before the flavor, which isn’t usual for me. I realize that dry means that there is no residual sugar, but this wine is dry. Almost like drinking water that’s not wet. However, the über-tannins that were in our March tasting have mellowed significantly, but they are still a little out there and they are overshadowing an otherwise very delicately balanced flavor. There’s some acridity associated with the tannins that adds a yellow border to the burgundy-brown of the aroma. The prunes have turned to plum-raisin with a hint of pecan. Damn those tannins!

I think this is like the Touriga that Russ Kane mentioned a couple of months ago. It really needs to breathe. Therefore, I am going to let the bottle sit open for an hour or so, and I will pick up the blog later.

I need something to eat.


Well, I waited more than an couple of hours to try the blend, and there’s still some acridity – just enough bitterness to keep me from saying that it’s “ready”. I still have another bottle – I’ll check it in a year or so.


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