Texas Wine of the Month: Inwood Estates Palomino-Chardonnay Blend 2010
Inwood Estates takes a Chardonnay grape and blends it with the less well known Spanish Palomino grape commonly used in Sherry to create a white wine that balances crisp acidity with bold fruit and complexity.
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This is a blend of about sixty percent palomino and forty percent chardonnay. Palomino, native to Spain, is widely used to produce sherry in the southern part of the country. This is a contrast to chardonnay, which is planted all over the world and responsible for the great whites of Montrachet, Chablis, and some of the best sparkling wines made in Champagne.
Who Likes It:
Jason Sherman, an advanced sommelier through the Court of Master Sommeliers, is the wine director for Brennan’s of Houston. Prior to Brennan’s, Sherman was a sommelier at Morton’s Steakhouse, but he was lured from the more corporate feel of a national steakhouse to a restaurant with more than forty years of history as a Louisiana-inspired, family-owned operation. “I feel very blessed to work for a company with such a great legacy of sommeliers and chefs in this city,” Sherman said.
Why He Likes It:
“While most great wines from Texas source fruit from the Panhandle area, the majority of the fruit used for this wine is sourced from Hunt County, right outside the Dallas area. It’s proof that great wines can come from all over our large state. It’s also a big, rich, full-bodied white wine, and we all know Texans love ‘em as full-bodied as possible.”
“With its rich flavors of hazelnut, spice and crisp golden apples, this wine would pair well with fish, like our pecan-crusted redfish. Another great pairing would be to go down to your local farmer’s market and get some honey and cow’s milk cheese.”
On Down the Road:
“I am constantly impressed at how well-made some of the wines [in Texas] are, from Duchman Family Winery Vermentino to Becker Vineyards Viognier, and how much better they get every year. I think Texas wine has a long road ahead, but it’s on the right track. The use of purchased grapes from California has caused some confusion with the public on what’s really Texas wine and what is not, but lower price points and esoteric varietals leave room for trying new things.”
Note from the Winemaker:
Dan Gatlin has been making wine in Texas since the early eighties. As one of the pioneers of Texas wine, Gatlin’s devoted research to making premium-quality wine has garnered him a reputation for being a top Texas winemaker. The Palomino-Chardonnay is a special blend he’s been making for some time because of his belief in making good Chardonnay in Texas—a grape that hasn’t always been successful across the board. Gatlin has recently added a single-variety Chardonnay to his portfolio with all of the grapes for this wine being sourced from within Dallas County that yields a crisp, minerality that many might find mimics a more French white Burgundy in style.
“The world of white wines tends to break down into three categories. First, there are high perfume whites such as Riesling, Muscats, Gewurtztraminer and Viognier. Second, there are high pyrazine or ‘grassy’ wines like Sauvignon Blanc. Third, there are more neutral whites like Chardonnay,” Gatlin said. “Reviewing the stats for wine sales across America, there is almost total domination by Chardonnay and the next runner up is far, far behind. My 35 years of experience in the wine industry tells me that people will drink perfumed or grassy whites for a while, but they always return to more neutral whites in the end.”
“The choices for neutral white grapes are shockingly few,” Gatlin continued. “After Chardonnay, Palomino turns out to be one of the very few, truly neutral grapes in the universe of choices. I have found that the Palomino is a perfect blend for Chardonnay with denser body and honeyed, tropical nuances, with an overall neutral finish. The Palomino-Chardonnay fills a very unique, but widely sought-after market demand.”
“The problem is the extremely low yield of the Palomino in Texas. At about one-sixth of the yield it takes to be economically feasible, it is hard to justify any increased plantings. We work very hard for less than two barrels of wine each summer.”
Availability: Due to low production quantities mentioned above, this wine has limited availability but can be ordered online through the winery.