EDGE OF THE LAKE VINEYARD AND WINERY NOW OPEN ON LAKE RAY ROBERTS
by Andrew Chalk
One of the welcome by-products of keeping up with Texas Winery Dogs is that one gets to visit Texas wineries that one would not otherwise see. So it was this weekend when my dog took me out to Edge of the Lake Vineyard and Winery (EOTL) north of Sanger, home of Southern BBQ and part way between Denton and Texas Winery Dog town of Muenster.
I could not have prepared for what I was going to find. Despite only opening in the last few months, EOTL already has a large tasting room in a Victorian house. A staple of wines made from estate fruit and grapes from the Texas High Plains (Reddy Vineyards). A multi-acre green lawn large enough to host a Willie Nelson concert. And a following such that reservations are recommended for the guided tastings in order to assure a seat. At present, tasting days are Fridays and Saturdays. However, Sundays are planned soon.
The original estate plantings date from 2011 when Dr. Fred Cummings (a Denton ObGyn) planted the first vines. His son, Chris McIntosh, and vineyard master Greg Davis have come in full time now as well. Chris, from the Dallas restaurant industry, where he was a partner in Kozy’s. All three completed the enology and viticulture program at the nearby Grayson County Community College.
Offered currently are a dry and a semi-sweet variant of two white wines. One an equal blend of viognier and albarino named Freedom, in the case of the dry wine, and Sweet Freedom in the case of the semi-sweet. The other is a 2020 Albarino, the Spanish grape that is spreading like wildfire through American vineyards, in the case of the dry wine. And 2020 Viognier in the case of the sweet. Both wines were vinified dry, and then sweetened to create the semi-sweet expression. In the case of the blend the sweetening agent was agave syrup (requiring no age statement on the 2019 wine). This apparently does not produce the headache effect found with sugar. Devotees of sweeter wines will find the two semi-sweet variants very refined with a sweet frame, but no cloying sensation in the mouth. The medium-plus acid levels make it a good match with sweet desserts (maybe the peach cobbler down at Southern BBQ).
The dry albarino had a really on-point fruit-acid balance, distinctive wine gum flavors, and medium weight in the mouth. The blend had a heavier mouthfeel on account of the viognier. Viognier is a grape that changes its fruit expression depending on how ripe it is harvested. Harvested early it has grapefruit and watermelon flavors. Harvested riper it acquires tropical fruit flavors like mango and guava. This viognier was in the latter category. The wine came in at 14.5% alcohol, reflecting fruit ripeness.
While the whites were sound, the reds were exemplary, reflecting a maturity of winemaking rarely found in a winery making its first release. A 2018 Estate Tempranillo exhibited fresh tempranillo fruit reflecting only three months of oak age. A 2019 Estate ‘Bourbon Barrel Aged’ Tempranillo was aged in French oak and then transferred to ‘Ironroot Promethean Bourbon’ barrels for finishing in some kind of Willy Wonka finishing process. The results were like a reserva Rioja tempranillo in their effect on oak integration.
Finally, a youthful 2020 Estate Grenache, iridescent in purple, rounded out the range. All the pepperiness of southern Rhône was there, as was the soft raspberry fruit.
Next vintage, EOTL should consider entering some of their best wines in one of the San Francisco wine competitions. Texas wines did well in this month’s San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition. These wines would reinforce that effort.
Watch out for big advances at EOTL in the next few months as they add food, patio accommodation, a rooftop veranda and build a new winery to replace the one they have outgrown. In the meantime, a visit is recommended.