Bluebonnet Trail: Retreat Hill Cellars & Impromptu Visual Tasting

Amazingly enough, this road trip was not my idea.  Julie had noticed that the Bluebonnet Trail wineries were hosting a wine pairing weekend and giving away wineglass charms at each winery, and also noticed that there are two wineries on the trail that we haven’t visited, so we could kill two birds with one stone.

Our first stop: Retreat Hill Cellars.  Julie and I have been here a couple of times before, but had missed being able to taste the popular 1836 Riesling. We soon found out why they sell out so quickly (review and visual tasting to come) and were able to grab two of the last three bottles in stock. I also tasted the Alamo Red, a blend of Texas grapes.

Julie told our  tasting guide about some of the Visual Tastings that I had done, so I showed her the Sandstone Cellars IV and Alamosa Viognier “paintings” and explained to her about my synesthesia. Our guide poured a small glass of red wine and asked if I would do a visual tasting of it, so I opened a new canvas and started painting. I had not previously done a “speed painting” for a tasting, so this was quite and adventure for me since I didn’t have time to ponder each flavor in extreme detail – I just started tasting, mixing colors, and painting.

Retreat Hill Rustic Red Reserve

Retreat Hill Rustic Red Reserve

This is Retreat Hill’s Rustic Red Reserve, a rich red wine whose distribution is limited to their wine club.  I didn’t take any other notes, so the painting is the only record of this tasting; and since we aren’t Retreat Hill wine club members, I wasn’t able to purchase a couple of bottles to double-check my ad-hoc interpretation of the wine.  We tasted so many different wines last Saturday that I can’t rely on my memory, either.

Here’s the real test of Visual Tasting: Can I accurately re-create the flavors from the colors on the canvas?

The nose contained plum, pepper, and tanned leather with the barest hint of sweet cream (the blue/yellow and above on the left). The flavor presented more fruit, strong acid, and hearty tannins (not too strong, though). The impact of the acid and tannins waned somewhat, giving way to the more earthy tones – leather, smoke, ground pepper – sitting on a black cherry and plum foundation.

The Rustic Red Reserve made a strong case to join the Retreat Hill wine club just to have access to more than just a taste of it – especially to see how it matures after opening, but my wine “cellar” is already at its bottle limit.

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