William Chris Vineyards – Hunter 2010, a red wine blend
Who Likes It:
Edward Morgan, a Certified Sommelier and Food & Beverage Manager at Travaasa Resort in the Hill Country, just west of Austin, who teaches weekend wine classes where he “shakes out all the pretentious nonsense people learn about wine and give them the tools they need to understand how to select the perfect bottle for any occasion.” (The restaurant at Travaasa is currently only open to guests and by special invitation but is set to open to the public later this year.)
An old world-style blend, this wine includes grapes you would usually find in a Bordeaux-style blend—21 percent Cabernet Sauvignon, 26 percent Cabernet Franc, 31 percent Merlot, and 22 percent Mourvedre. “I have a soft spot for Cabernet Franc,” Morgan said. “To me, it creates a more dynamic expression with an herbaceous quality that balances the fruit and earth nuances that often dominate these blends.”
Why He Likes It:
“A gem of the Texas High Plains! What I really enjoy about this wine is its elegance. Working with vines in a more seasonal atmosphere has allowed William Chris to create balanced wines that mirror the style and structure of some of their old-world counterparts, such as Bordeaux. [Vineyard co-founders] Bill [Blackmon] and Chris [Brundrett] take full advantage of Mother Nature allowing the terroir to speak for the vine and the grapes. Too often we see plagiarized or impostor wines that borrow characteristics from other geographic areas by way of the manufacturing process. But, the Hunter blend maintains its Texas integrity while exhibiting a subtle resemblance to many Margaux Cru Bourgeois Bordeaux wines, which are great value wines that seldom receive the recognition they deserve.”
“This wine is great for mild-flavored wild game such as antelope,” Morgan said. “Antelope is delicate and a rustic presentation of this dish with pronounced earthy, sweet flavors, like butternut squash and caramelized onions, make the perfect pairing for this wine.”
On Down the Road:
Morgan pointed out that the viticulture in Texas markedly improved since he first arrived in 2001, by way of Chicago. “We replaced the vanity and novelty of producing a drinkable Texas souvenir with an understanding of the true nature and artistry of crafting wine,” Morgan said. “Texas wine is slowly becoming known for its distinct characteristics, both good and bad. Much like the wines when California was first cutting its teeth in the world of wine, there is an adjustment period that is occurring with Texas wines that will soon emerge as a coveted typicity achieved only in the Lone Star State. Texas is in a wine renaissance and some of the most memorable masterpieces are being actualized as we speak.”
A Note From The Winery:
The Hunter blend will be a staple in the William Chris Vineyards portfolio each year. It’s produced primarily from grapes in the Hunter Family Vineyard in the High Plains, as well as from grapes in nearby vineyards in an effort to present the true terroir of this region. Each year, the blend of grapes will vary, but will be influenced but the fifteen-year block of Merlot grapes from the Hunter Family Vineyards.
“We represent the vintage as best we can in putting together wines that give a terroir-driven expression,” Brundrett told me. “2010 was a great year that allowed us to use Cabernet Franc in the Hunter blend. But that same varietal didn’t work out as well for the 2011 Hunter.”
The winery sold out of the 2010 vintage of Hunter, but bottles can still be found in some restaurants across the state including Travaasa, near Austin; Glow, in Rockport; and Mark’s American Cuisine, in Houston.
The 2011 vintage is still available from the winery, for a limited time. As Brundrett said, “We’re screaming through the last cases we have.” The Hunter 2011 is a blend of 20 percent Cabernet Sauvignon, 40 percent Merlot, 40 percent Mourvedre, and it made the list of Texas Monthly’s Top Wines of 2012.
The Hunter 2012 has not yet been released, but look for it later in 2013.