Tuesday, August 01, 2006

The Tarantula Trail, Part One: Delaney Vineyards

Grapevine, Texas is a small town that's slowly getting assimilated into the Dallas/Fort Worth Megolopolis, but at least it's still intact. A refurbished Victorian engine takes passengers from the famous Fort Worth stockyards to the Grapevine Towne Center where they can shoppe....er, shop, I mean.
There are several wineries and a couple of tasting rooms here, and it's known in Texas wine circles as the Tarantula Trail, after the name of the train in turn named after the spider-like configuration of the original tracks around the area.

The big daddy operation is Delaney Vineyards, a mockup mansion surrounded by lush vineyards...right next to an office park. The Delaney crew is very proud of the juice they make, so much so that spitting your sample is not allowed, as you will be cheerily informed by your tasting associate. And she meant it, too; when I told her that I prefer to spit, as I was driving to several tasting rooms that day, she headed out of the room and told me she would have to call the owner to see if she could make an exception. I mention this incedent because I think it's silly, regardless of what the rationale might be behind it. The whole rest of the wine world knows that spitting is the best way to taste a number of wines without getting smashed, people, and disallowing it makes you guys look like amateurs. The Texas wine industry definitely does not need help with that.

Okay, I'm over it. Now: is Delaney wine really soooo good that spitting it out would be a travesty? Well, yes and no. Lemme 'splain.

Delaney, like many of the operations along the Tarantula Trail, actually make their wine from Texas fruit. This makes it officially Texas wine, and we all know that makes me very happy. The majority of the fruit comes from their own vineyards in the teensy town of Lamesa on the edge of the Texas High Plains AVA. These vineyards grow Cabernet Sauvignon, Cab Franc, Petit Verdot, Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay, while the ten acres surrounding the Grapevine facility are all a hybrid called Cynthiana, or Norton. Cynthiana is a good choice for the area because it's hardy and does well in heat and in red clay. It's generally believed to be a species of wild North American grape called vitis aestivalis, although some believe it's a cross between aestivalis and some kind of vinifera (the European species). So mucho kudos for bringing the real thing to the people.

Often times, however, I find a general lack of body and viscosity in Texas wines, and Delaney is no exception. Across the board the wines are light, juicy and simple in structure. The whites are a little too sweet for me, but that's sort of a given in the Lone Star State. Red selections had very nice tannins and a great "juiciness" to them, a bit of spice, but otherwise I can only describe them as 'lean'. This may just be a reality of agriculture for us, and all said and done, Delaney does a rather nice job.

Two of the red selections at Delaney were pretty damn good, and the Cynthiana was one of them.

2003 Delaney Vineyards Cynthiana
What suprised me about this little number is that the typical 'foxy' aroma/flavor (think Welch's Grape Jelly--candied and cloying) of Norton was less predominant. There was a dusty, Cab Franc kind of quality to it, and the acidity was nicely balanced. Light in body and pleasant, good solid finish. A simple wine, but at $14.99 not overpriced.

2002 Delaney Vineyards 'Three Daughters' (Petit Verdot, Cab Franc, Cab Sauvignon)
Bright juicy fruit with a hint of that Cab Franc dried floral thing, good color, and in comparison of so many other Texas wines, a right solid tannic finish. All things considered, the $20 price tag isn't too bad, although someday I hope to be able to compare a $20 Texas wine to any other with impunity.

There are three other wineries I visited whilst bumming about North of Dallas, stay tuned for more from the Tarantula Trail.

Clinkies.

16 Comments:

Anonymous Christian Cox said...

TAJ, I wish I'd known you were coming. I would have joined you if you had been game and would have loved to have welcomed you to another Cox abode.

I hope you made it to Les Constable's at Brushy Creek, to Sandstone, and to Barking Rocks and Brennan on the way home.

Also, you might have been able to pick up some La Cigale at Times Ten in Dallas.

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