ONE OF TEXAS’ MOST FAMOUS WINEGROWERS STARTS MAKING THEIR OWN WINE
Updated: Jun 24, 2019
ARE YOU REDDY?
by Andrew Chalk
One of the largest and best known grape growers in the state of Texas is adding wine making to their portfolio. Reddy Vineyards has built a winery on their land in Brownfield, TX and released their first wines. Winery capacity is currently at a craft-level 10,000 cases/year. All of the wines are 100% estate grown and come from winemaker Michael Hellman, son of well known Texas Tech oenology and viticulture professor, Ed Hellman. His wines for Rancho Loma Vineyards earned medals from the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition and the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo.
Founder Vijay Reddy and CEO Akhil Reddy hired Eric Sigmund, a wine buyer at Total Wine’s national headquarters in Maryland, to move to Texas as COO. He explained to me that he heads up the sales and marketing efforts.
Sigmund and I recently tasted through the current Reddy Vineyards line of one white and four red wines. All of the wines are 100% estate fruit from Reddy Vineyards and appellated as Texas High Plains. Prices indicated below are suggested retail per bottle.
Since the winery was under construction when these grapes were harvested, the startup logistics were handled with the help of Rancho Loma. The Marsanne was made at Rancho Loma under Reddy direction. The reds were crushed and fermented at various Reddy clients, and then transferred to Reddy’s facilities for post-fermentation wine making protocols and ageing. From the 2019 vintage , onward all wine making and ageing is at the Reddy Vineyard winery. Winery capacity is currently at a craft-level 10,000 cases/year.
In something of a reversal of roles, Rancho Loma Vineyards has moved from their former (odd) location of Coleman, TX to the Reddy Facility to get closer to their grape sources.
2017 Marsanne, Block 24 ($25)
Production: From grapes in a single block of the Reddy Vineyard. Aged in neutral French oak.
Appearance: Straw colored and clear.
Nose: Apple, pear, stone fruit. Citrus notes.
Palate: Assertive body - the oak ageing provides some heft. Medium-plus acid.
Overall: A wine to serve as a preprandial or with light fish dishes. The flavors are delicate but embedded in a good acid frame that keeps the liveliness present. As someone with a liking for the overlooked white wines of the Rhône I am pleased to see yet another good example and something of a pathfinder in promoting the Marsanne grape.
2015 Field Blend ($35)
Production: Literally from grapes of multiple types (primarily Italian varieties) growing together in the same block of the vineyard (a so called ‘field blend’). These are harvested together, co-fermented and aged 36 months in French and American oak.
Appearance: Medium intensity garnet.
Nose: Withdrawn. Some tomato plant.
Palate: Very soft, fully resolved wood and fruit. Not surprisingly given the long ageing. Fruit notes are mainly raspberry. Medium acid and long finish
Overall: A gentle easy wine for quaffing. I would argue it was aged too long in wood and left with nowhere to go. Drink now, either as a quaffing wine or with red-sauced pasta dishes. Cf. the direction the winery went with the 2017 interpretation of this wine. They have to settle on a style or customers will be confused.
2017 Field Blend ($35)
Production: Aged in 30% new French oak and American oak for 18 months.
Appearance: Concentrated bright ruby color.
Nose: Tight right now but promising in time.
Palate: Ripe, rich, forthcoming. red fruit (raspberries, cranberries) and blackberries. An underlying earthiness is complementary to and adds complexity to the fruit. Medium finish.
2017 TNT ($35)
Production: A blend of 75% Tempranillo and 25% Toriga Nacional (hence the name, TNT. Move over GSM).
Appearance: Bright ruby red.
Nose: Tempranillo’s red fruits and Touriga Nacionale chocolate and molasses merge in a Douro style full-bodied red.
Palate: Glorious, pin cushion tannins. Raspberries, black cherry, blackberry.
Overall: The best of the bunch. Drink with steak or prime rib, barbeque (Texas brisket with its voluminous fat will do a good job of taming the tannins). As Michael Hellman iterates this compelling blend he should target the Douro table wines from producers like Symington in northern Portugal. It is good now, but could be amplified in its power to be a really long lasting wine.
2017 The Dyer Red Blend ($35)
Production: A French blend. Alicante Bouchet 51%, Merlot 49%.
Appearance: Intense ruby red.
Nose: Rich raspberry coulis, cranberry.
Palate: Quite a complex wine. Chocolate, cinnamon, raspberry. With a medium finish;
Overall: Alicante Bouchet is distinguished as a teinturier. A grape usually existing silently in a wine to darken its color to consumer expectations (Pinot Noir is the most frequently cited example of its use). It achieves this by virtue of red juice. Virtually all ‘red’ grapes have white juice, with the red color coming only from the skins. In this wine its role is as a first class member, complementing Merlot. Merlot adds a chocolate and dark fruit component here. Medium acid and finish.
This is an impressive first effort.
To buy these wines go to the Reddy Vineyards web site. The retail network (both on premise and off) is under construction.
Note: My tasting was paid for by Reddy Vineyards.