An Afternoon With Family

I have been a bit AWOL from the “Texas Wine Scene” for a while. Sometimes life takes turns that force you to change your focus, and ours has taken a few lately.

Last October I started a new gig on my day job and started working 60 hour work weeks, unfortunately with no extra hours pay. It”s probably the most challenging project I have ever been a part of and I”m already pissing people off, so it means I”m making an impact. But by the time Saturday comes (if I”m not working), I”m not in the mood to sit at a keyboard.

The latest turn came in March while we were spending a weekend with two of our kids and their significant others. We were doing some limited winery hopping and while we were taking a break at Hilmy Cellars, Julie received a call from her dad telling her that he had been diagnosed with small-cell carcinoma in his lung. The doctor didn”t say much about it to him except that it was “treatable”. We soon learned that there is a distinct difference between “treatable” and “curable”. Needless to say, we have spent a lot of time in Louisiana with her dad.

While Julie was on the call, the Hilmy family gathered around her to offer comfort, thoughts, and prayers for his health and strength and peace for Julie.

Today was Julie”s first trip to Hilmy since March and she shuddered a little remembering the last time when she walked in; however, Neldie was quick to greet her with a hug and a smile, and we were right at home.

Hilmy Cellars is just far enough from our home to keep them from getting tired of us, but close enough for a day trip if we can”t get a room in Fredericksburg for the night, and it”s my choice getaway. I don”t mean to demean any of the other wonderful wineries on the Fredericksburg 290 wine trail, and when Julie and I had more free time to visit wineries, we would often winery hop so we could keep up with everyone; however, right now the majority of our traveling is to Louisiana, and the very little that we do for us, we just want to go somewhere and hang out.

We just happened to have a weekend free, and Hilmy is hosting a release party for their 2012 wines, so we made a (quite literally) last minute decision to hang out. Fortunately I was able to snag a room at a hotel in Dripping Springs – still close enough to not fret about being too tired to drive after a day at the winery.

I have been following the evolution of some Viognier that Erik Hilmy has been working with and preparing for bottling, and have had several tastings from the tanks and barrel and telling anyone who asked that unfiltered in the tank, it was the best Viognier I had tasted to date. Naturally, I have been eager to taste the final bottled versions, the “naked” Viognier and the oaked Viognier, and the Doo-Zwa-Zo, a Viognier – Chenin Blanc blend. We were also (literally) treated to the new “The Temp”, a Tempranillo – Merlot blend.

These are newly bottled wines, so they will be undergoing quite a lot of change over the next few weeks – good reason to buy several bottles so I can follow their continuing evolution.

The naked Viognier is clean and pretty. It”s bone-dry, but my palate still sensed sweet – not uncommon, but always welcome; and it takes the white wine gold medal for today.

The oaked Viognier seems to be experiencing more bottle shock than the naked, but I only say that because I tasted a “glass blend” a couple of months ago that absolutely knocked my socks off. Right now the oaked Viognier is on par with every oaked Texas Viognier I have tasted, so I have very high expectations for it over the coming weeks and casino online months. Hmmm, I think three bottles to take home may not be enough.

Hilmy Cellars 2012 Oaked Viognier

Doo-Zwa-Zo is Hilmy”s off-dry (semi-sweet?) Viognier – Chenin Blanc blend just in time for summer. If Erik hadn”t taken delivery of a gazillion tons of these jewels from Bingham Family Vineyards (a personal favorite Texas grower), I may have faulted him when I learned about the blend. However, the two varieties pair well in this new summer refresher and round out the tasting menu at Hilmy quite well.

Now for The Temp.  When I tasted it, I was reminded of my first taste of the 2011 The Temp (yes, that”s the name) – lots of fruit up front with a reasonable (almost underbearing?) tannin structure. What was strange with 2012 was that I could sense, but not really taste the effects of the Merlot in the blend. In fact, had it not been written on the tasting menu I wouldn”t have known what grape was complementing the tempranillo so well. The merlot seems (to me, at least) to be adding some “lower end” tannin structure to the tempranillo, which already has good high-end (for lack of a better description) tannins. What I get is balance. Here”s my Visual Tasting of the 2012 The Temp:
Hilmy Cellars 2012 The Temp

This surprised a couple of the Hilmy tasting guides because it doesn”t look as “smooth” as they think The Temp tastes, so I poured another glass and validated the VT. What I realized is that balanced and smooth are different but potentially confusing. To me, a smooth wine is one whose flavors – as I described it to Julie – have been sleeping together for a while and have become entirely inter-incorporated. They have merged into what initially may come across as a single new flavor. Balanced, on the other hand, are flavors that are a perfect match, but haven”t really slept together. They aren”t fully comfortable with each other, so they still express their individuality more than the more mature, comfortable flavors. What this means to me is that, given time, The Temp is going to be very smooth. Yeah, I”ll be taking some home to sit for a while with my 2011 collection of The Temp.


An Afternoon With Family — 2 Comments

  1. I tried all the wines today, and mirror your assessment to a degree. I think the new Temp is still in a little bit of bottle shock, so I’m going to taste it again in a couple of weeks and see it if calms down a little and comes together. I preferred the unoaked Viognier, as I believe it allows the honeysuckle and floral qualities to show more. I would drink any of the 2011 Temp I had on hand PDQ, as I don’t believe there’s enough acid and structure to hold up long-term. It was an excellent wine young.

    Overall, I think Eric and Neldy are doing some great things, and I think these new releases are really going to shine this summer.

    • Richard,

      I don’t disagree. I think that the “balance” of The Temp will turn into “smooth”, and I agree that the naked Viognier is shining the best right now; however, I tried both of the Viogniers last week and the oaked is undergoing change must faster than the naked, so it may well outshine the naked in a short time. I got to taste the Pedernales Viognier this morning with the Hilmy still fresh in my mind, and I have to say it is currently IMO the best showing Viognier in the bottle that I have tried to date; however, I had barrel and vat tastings of the Hilmy before they were bottled and if they return to that glory, we’re looking at awesomesauce.

      This is going to be a great summer for Texas wine, IMO.

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