Thursday, January 30, 2020

Kuhlman Cellars Elevating Texas Wine

Kuhlman Cellars Sangiovese and Reserve MerlotGrapevines were planted in Texas more than 100 years before they were planted in California. Today the Lone Star State ranks fifth among US states in wine production.

Wines As Big As Texas?

Texas calls to mind barbecued brisket, rodeos and Lone Star beer. It’s not primarily linked with fine wines. Texas, though, is a surprising state. Its wine is too.

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We recently uncorked a couple of bottles from Kuhlman Cellars, a winery sitting on seven acres of vineyards in Texas Hill Country. Bénédicte Rhyne is the winemaker, with training in Burgundy and experience at Ravenswood in Sonoma.

With some warm North Carolina weather in January, I was anxious to fire up the grill. Some nice charred burgers seemed ideal for a wine from Texas. Our burgers were accompanied by root vegetable fries (parsnips, carrots, sweet potatoes and beets). Not sure how the parsnip fries would go over with the rodeo crowd, but they were a tasty treat for our meal.

Kuhlman Cellars 2016 Reserve MerlotReserve Merlot With Angus Burgers

The 2016 Reserve Merlot has deep oaky flavors derived from 30 months in French barrels. The AVA is Texas High Plains, which covers eight million acres – and yet is just the second largest wine region in Texas. We found this paired famously with the expertly grilled (if I say so myself!) burgers.

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The Reserve Merlot, which has a production of 410 cases, is on the earthy side of the spectrum. There are notes of tobacco and graphite mingled with deep cherry flavors. As the wine unwound, our appreciation for it grew.

Riding high with the Longhorn spirit, we opened the 2017 Sangiovese. We found this to not be as well suited for my robust Angus burgers. The Sangiovese grapes come from the Newsome Vineyard, which sits at about 3,700 feet in the Texas High Plains. This is one of the most successful vineyards in Texas.

Even Better The Second Time ‘Round

The following evening we poured a couple of glasses of the Sangiovese. We were pleasantly surprised to discover we really enjoyed it much more the second night. The wine, a light ruby in the glass, was delicious. It is light to medium-light in body and has brilliant acidity washed with sour cherry notes.  We found this to be a very nice wine to sip on its own.

You won’t confuse this with Chianti Classico, but the Kuhlman Sangiovese has its own unique and enjoyable style. It’s a limited production wine with just more than 300 cases produced.

The Sangiovese is priced at $38 while the Reserve Merlot has an SRP of $34. While the two wines we sampled from Kuhlman Cellars use grapes sourced from Texas High Plains, the winery also has their own Hill Country AVA vineyard, which provided 27 tons of fruit this year.

Texas and Kuhlman Cellars are producing some eye-opening wines. Sip some of the Lone Star State and you’ll be impressed.

Full disclosure: These wines were received as a media sample.

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