ON TEXAS WINE: Do They Age? Part 2
Fall Creek 2012 ‘Meritus’, Texas Hill Country (∞)
by Andrew Chalk
The preamble to part one read…
“More people are coming round to the idea that Texas can make good wine as they sample more of it. But the ultimate test of gravitas in, at least red wines, is how they age. How does Texas do in that regard?
To find out, I am doing a series of tastings of Texas wines, all 10+ years old, and assessing how they are doing. I am choosing them based on how their peers in other parts of the world do at the end of their first decade.”
Today’s wine is from one of the oldest wineries in Texas, Fall Creek Vineyards. Owners Ed and Sue Auler did not cut corners when they founded Fall Creek back in the formative days of 1975. They hired the legendary André Tchelistcheff, the Russian émigré who shaped the California wine industry, to advise them. The Bordeaux blend grapes that comprise this wine were planted partly at his instigation.
Meritus is the proprietary name for Fall Creek’s premiere Bordeaux blend. Since this vintage is no longer available in the retail market I have helpfully indicated the price as ‘infinity’ in the title, above. This example is a decade old blend of cabernet sauvignon (55%) and merlot (45%). It also features, I believe for the first time, the name of Sergio Cuadra on the label. Since 2022 is his tenth anniversary with Fall Creek I am not sure how much influence he had on this bottling (he may have arrived too late) but I know his subsequent influence has been seismic.
The color of this wine is garnet with a brick red rim. The nose is like something out of Bordeaux, with cigar box and cedar figuring prominently. This draws an instructive distinction between Texas and Napa, California, where herbal notes get more play. Age comes through forcefully in this wine in that fruit, usually such a dominant part of the aromatics in a red wine tasting note, has to take a back seat to the secondary and tertiary notes and flavors. Cloves, rosemary, leather and coconut contend with each other in the nose. On the palate, this wine must be close to its peak. Tannins are firm but not rough. That fruit, in the back seat when describing the nose, fills the mouth. It is blackberry and black plum that keep on giving, seemingly forever, making for a long, comforting finish.
Does it age? Hell yeah.