I’ve spent countless hours traversing the wineries of California, but the operation at Texas-based William Chris surprised me right away, with its focus on hospitality, a wide range of tasting experiences, and — most critically — a huge ability to get people in and out of the place, often by the busload (a very rare sight in California wine country).
William Chris, which we’ve reviewed here before, is based in Hye, near Austin, but it sources grapes from all over Texas — predominantly the Texas High Plains, near the panhandle.
During a recent visit to the gorgeous facility, we tasted through seven wines as part of the Winemaker’s Tasting experience. Plan at least 90 minutes if you’re rolling through here for a similar tasting — time moves slower in Texas than in California. Thoughts on all wines tasted follow.
2019 William Chris Mourvedre Texas High Plains – William Chris is the top producer of mourvedre in the state, and it’s arguably its best wine: pretty, floral, and gently chocolatey, with an edge of orange peel. A- / $56
2020 William Chris Malbec Texas High Plains – Heavier chocolate on the nose, with a tart, cherry-heavy backbone that almost becomes sweet in the finish. B+ / $42
2019 William Chris Syrah Sutton County – Aged in concrete. Tight, a bit green, and minty on the finish. Somewhat unripe. B / $55
2015 William Chris Syrah Sutton County – A library offered as a comparison, aged in French oak. Much bolder and more well-rounded, almost smoky at times. Ample vanilla, and some of that mint detectable in the 2019. B / $NA
2019 William Chris Tannat Texas High Plains – Bright, showing touches of orange, with earth tones following. B+ / $60
2020 William Chris Enchante Texas Hill Country – The winery’s flagship wine, a blend featuring 70% cabernet sauvignon. Classic structure with big cassis, dark chocolate and vanilla. Rich and whipped with licorice on the back end. A- / $56
2015 William Chris Tempranillo Texas Hill Country – Another library offering, this one a big smoke bomb with a bold body. Lots of tannin, a bit overblown in the end. B / $NA