On December 9th, 2010, I was luckily invited to assess young wine, out of fermentation tanks and barrels at a brand new winery in the Texas Hill Country – Westcave Cellars Winery, where the proprietors are carefully selecting vines to grow and wines to blend. The promise is spectacular, and experiencing this first hand, was such an honor. Viticulturist Margaret Fetty briefly explained their vineyard’s floor plan, and extension of the varietals planted, as well as some trailing and training techniques. Enologist Allan Fetty, invited me to the winery production room and the dimmed barrel cellar room. The evening seemed promising – but I certainly wasn’t expecting all that I got.
So, you get to spit on the ground, rinse your glass with a hose, and munch on oyster crackers sitting on a chair [the crackers that is] while two Schnauzers roam around you curiously….quite a formal setting - for a winery on the rise anyway, and the perfect bait for a wine sommelier indeed. To partake in such a tasting at Westcave Cellars with the Fetty’s was such a pleasure; a winery which is not yet open to the public, nor is their tasting room yet finished – but progressing the way that they are doing with the wine, they are sure to pack their tasting room in 2011.
While I was there for the first time, I got invited to taste unbottled ‘raw’ wine, as Winemaker Allan Fetty said, and I tasted all that was available to taste, to better give an impression of the fruit of their labor. I’m already looking forward to my next visit to see what else is brewing – on the meantime, here’s a list of what I got to taste! – and just to remind – this is a small operation, very limited vintage bottling to begin with. Cheers!
Westcave Cellars Winery, Texas Hill Country, Estate Viognier, 2010
This full body viognier was vinified dry and cellared in stainless steel. It was a clear pale green color, and it had a simple and adequate aroma characteristics of green apple and pear, citrus and tropical fruit. It had fresh and lively acidity with a long finish.
Westcave Cellars Winery, Lost Draw Vineyard, Viognier, 2010
This viognier came from the High Plains of Texas, and it had not yet been filtered. It has spent a short time in a neutral French oak barrel. Visually a dense and opaque golden straw color. It had complex aromas of pineapple, guava, papaya and tropical fruit, coconut and vanilla accents. Medium to full body, fermented dry and a medium finish.
Westcave Cellars Winery, Texas Hill Country, Estate Vermentino, 2010
A brilliant pale straw Vermentino, it showcased powerful aromas of kiwi, melon, tropical fruits, citrus, with a bounty of floral and herbaceous characteristics like dill. Full body and dry with a long finish from lively tart acidity. Certainly one of the stars of the evening. Wiht a very limited production, it will prove to be a golden ticket.
Westcave Cellars Winery, Texas Hill Country, Estate Muscat Blanc, 2010
This clear straw-colored white muscat had a powerful aroma of lychee fruit, white peach and mango, and some floral notes. The finish was framed by citrus peel and a buttered pastry. Rounded and Full Body, Dry with green, lively acidity with a long finish.
Westcave Cellars Winery, Lost Draw Vineyard, Muscat Blanc, 2010
Grown in the Texas High Plains, this white muscat was unfiltered and dense. It showcased a pale green to a green straw in hues. Simple aromas of citrus and tropical fruit. It was fermented dry and it was light to medium body with tart green acidity and a medium finish.
Westcave Cellars Winery, Hendricks Vineyard, Blanc de Merlot Noir, 2010
A clear cherry red rosé made with Merlot from North Texas. It had a powerful nose, showcasing aromas of cucumber, celery, fennel, rose petals and strawberry. It was fermented dry, with a medium to full body, well rounded, and tart lively acidity. Medium to long finish.
Westcave Cellars Winery, Texas, Blanc de Zinfandel, 2010
This Zinfandel grown in Eastern Texas was clear and bright. It had a medium pink-salmon hue. Rose blossom aromas, and it showcased flavors of cranberry, lemon and a clove finish. Fermented dry, generous in alcohol, fresh acidity with a long finish. It was a great aperitif.
Westcave Cellars Winery, Texas Hill Country, Estate Cabernet Sauvignon, 2010
This Sauvignon Rouge grown in the estate was barely aged 3 months in new, medium-toast, French Oak barrels. It was a clear, medium-light brick-red, garnet color. Powerful aromas of toast, coffee, dark plum and watermelon. Flavors of cranberry and dark cherry, with rich soft tannins, and a tart acidity with a long finish. Full body and dry.
Westcave Cellars Winery, Williams Family Vineyards, Cabernet Sauvignon, 2010
Cabernet grown in North Texas was clear and bright. It had a dark red violet color and a powerful nose. Aromas of tamarind, watermelon, red chilli peppers, and chamoy dominated. Flavors of blood orange, red grapefruit, chamoy and cherry with a lingering leathery finish. Full body with soft tannins and a medium finish.
Westcave Cellars Winery, Estate Cuvée, Cabernet Sauvignon, 2010
Blended 50% Estate grown Cabernet, with 50% Williams Family Vineyards. A clear, medium garnet to cherry hues. It had an ordinary aroma of tamarind, dark berries, dark plum and cassis. Full body and tart green acidity, generous alcohol and a long finish.
Westcave Cellars Winery, Hendricks Vineyard, Merlot Noir, 2010
This was an unfiltered Merlot from North Texas, with only two months in French Oak. Has a dark red violet to ruby color. Complex aromas of cucumber, parsley and bell pepper. Flavors of cranberry, cassis, cherry, raspberry, plum, red apple, with accents of cedar and violets. Rounded full-body, with austere acidity and generous alcohol. Pleasant long finish.
Westcave Cellars Winery, Texas Hill Country, Estate Tannat, 2010
Harvested from 2 year old vines, aged in 2 year old French oak barrels, this estate grown Tannat was clear, with a dark opaque purple color. First impression was ordinary, with a faint hint of bell pepper aroma. It brought flavors of black cherry, dark plum and a nice anise or licorice finish. Pleasant and tart acidity with a long finish.
Certainly this young wine will improve and develop once properly cellared and bottled. It’s worth mentioning that what I have herein listed and tasted, was so to speak just out of production, and will not by any way, mean that the wine that will be released will match the above descriptions. Westcave Cellars owners, the Fetty’s, still need to fine and finish the wine through élevage, and define final blending portions,cellaring techniques, chapitalization if any, labeling statements, and final presentation in due time.