I think Jim Johnson must like “sleepers”.
When we visited Alamosa Wine Cellars in Bend, Texas – that was before they had the tasting room in Lampasas, I was completely fascinated with his still-in-the-barrel Viognier, but not overly impressed with the red wines we tasted. I bought a few bottles of the 2006 Texacaia because it was interesting, but completely “didn’t get” the Palette.
Several months later, Julie and I had the opportunity to share a meal with Jim and he opened a bottle of Palette for us saying, “This is a SERIOUS wine.” As the meal progressed, that bottle continued to open, and when I sampled the remainder of the bottle that he sent home with us the following day, it had REALLY OPENED UP and was some of the best wine I have ever tasted.
A couple of days ago I pulled one of the bottles of Texacaia and decided to see if it, like the Palette, was a “sleeper”.
With my Palette experience etched in memory, I poured the Texacaia through a Venturi to let it breathe quickly and open up faster, and gave it a few swirls for good measure, then started “painting”.
Dark, stone fruit, raisins, dried plums (OK, “prunes”), and smoky pepper caught my nose, and the flavor matched the nose fairly well except for this high note that I can’t describe except that I get the same flavor, only stronger, from every Texas dry “Lenoir” that I have tasted. It’s yellow with a black shadow for other syneshtetics. Unfortunately, that particular flavor can overpower everything else in a wine for me, and I lose interest in it; however, there was way too much going on in the Texacaia to give up on it. It has a “creamy” finish to it that I found particularly fascinating, so I finished the painting,corked the bottle, and decided to give it a day.
Here’s where I insist that Jim must like “sleepers”. Like the Palette, the introduction of a little air and time allowed the Texacaia to wake up and express itself. Here’s the Texacaia, Day 2:
Very pleasant nose with lighter aromas present. Still mostly raisin, plum, pepper, smoke, but more of the complexity expressed in the nose. The flavor was slightly more “fruit-forward”, along the lines of a moonlit night being “brighter” than a moonless night. And that is just fine with me.
I picked up hints of tanned leather (the tamed version of the yellow/black I tasted yesterday) which meshed very well with the earthiness underneath. Slight overtones of black cherry, but the middle was a constant interplay of dark, stony, berries and fruit. The finish wasn’t as creamy as yesterday and it didn’t seem to linger as much as before, but it was a pleasant one.
Guess I need to order Jim’s latest Palette and Texacaia to compare.