I never would have thought I’d say this (and I’m originally from Texas!), but I really enjoyed these Texas wines. How? Because the guys at William Chris obviously know what the hell — nay, the tarnation — that they’re doing.
Today we look at four wines from this Hye-based operation, all from the 2018 passel of releases. Thoughts follow.
2017 William Chris Petillant Naturel Rose – This rose pet-nat is a low-alcohol blend of merlot, mourvedre, malbec, malvasia bianca, grenache, and moscato giallo. While dry, it’s got a tiny touch of sugar that you don’t see in most pet-nat, but I actually prefer it that way. Also quite lovely is the berry fruit — strawberry, filtered through hints of quinine and fresh herbs. A simple wine, but refreshing and not as overbearing with carbonation as many a standard sparkler. B+ / $25
NV William Chris Skeleton Key White Wine Texas – A newer addition to the Skeleton Key lineup, this is a roussanne-based mystery blend that feels to me like it has some sauvignon blanc in it, and perhaps semillon, but pushed through modest oak (20% new French oak is used, with 80% neutral oak). While buttery and a bit nutty, it retains the steely acidity of the underlying grape. A little coconut and pineapple on the finish. Really easy-drinking on its own as well as quite food-friendly. Shocking that this is from Texas, not California. A- / $25
NV William Chris Skeleton Key Red Wine Texas – A weird nonvintage blend, 63% syrah, 26% ruby cabernet, and 11% tempranillo from Twin Lakes, Texas. Spicy, with tons of mint on the nose, heavy with notes of jasmine and incense. The perfumed notes inform a palate that is rich with fruit — raspberry, strawberry, and black cherry all rolled up into one — with a kick of licorice, mesquite, and Texas barbecue taking you out on the finish. I rather like it a lot. A- / $34
2016 William Chris Enchante Granite Hill Vineyards Bell Mountain – A blend of 61% merlot, 36% cabernet sauvignon, and 2% petit verdot. Surprisingly full-formed and well-rounded, this is an earthy wine punctuated by bold raspberry and blackberry fruit, some mint, and a good slug of vanilla. The finish is on the green side, but not vegetal, more of a sense of fresh herbs, some fresh-cut grass, and a hint of cloves. Surprising complexity in a Texas wine. A- / $42