Kuhlman Cellars Blog
Alluvé is our most popular wine. And for good reason! It is a beautifully balanced, complex red wine blend with medium body, lovely aromatics and nice fruit on the palette. It is an easy wine to love, while also offering nuanced layers to experience and explore over time.
The grapes in the Alluvé blend change each year, reflecting the bounty of Mother Nature’s harvest. While one year Sangiovese might be the lead grape, Mourvédre may take the lead in the next. What doesn’t change, though, is the style of the wine - an approachable red blend perfect on its own but also very food-friendly. (Our favorite pairing? Kuhlman Cellars Herbed Almonds, of course!)
It is remarkable how consistent the wine is from year to year. It has become our “House Style”, in the same tradition as the great Champaign houses of France, though Alluvé is a vintage wine each release.
We are often asked how Texas wine ages and matures. We jokingly say, we learn each day as our Cellar gets another day older! However, one of the most fun things to do is to taste through a Vertical of a single wine to see how the wine tastes as you go further back in time (or forward, depending on your tasting order.) What is a Vertical Tasting? This is when you taste through different vintages of the same wine - for example a 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018 Alluvé. It is fun to experience what is consistent and what is different from each vintage, especially with the older ones.
Want to do a vertical tasting of Alluvé?!? You are in luck! We are launching a limited edition special tasting where you explore the 2015, 2016, and 2017 Alluvé as well as get a sneak tasting of the not-yet-released 2018 Alluvé! Even better, we also include a barrel sample of the 2020 Alluvé Offered once each Friday and Saturday at 11AM, this tasting will only be available for a short while starting November 5, 2021. Reservations can be made online here (link) or by calling our tasting room at 512-920 2675.
First things first, let’s look at definitions.
What is “vintage” and what does it mean?
When a year is listed on a wine label – for example, 2017 Marl, “2017” is the vintage year. The vintage year listed on a bottle denotes the wine within that bottle was made from grapes harvested in that specific year. In our example, the vintage year is 2017. In the United States, a wine must be at least 95% from a single year in order to be labeled with a vintage year.
A “non-vintage” wine is made by blending grapes from two or more harvest years. The newest releases of Calcaria and Hensell are non-vintage wines. Our newest release of Calcaria is a refreshing blend of Roussanne, Marsanne, Trebbiano, Viognier and Albarino grapes. Familiar notes of ripe pear and honeysuckle are enhanced by delightful hints of papaya and white peach. Our newest Hensell is a blend of Cinsaut, Grenache, Carignan and Mourvedre. A classic, delicate Provence style rosé, this wine is reminiscent of fresh summer strawberries and cream.
So, does vintage year have anything to do with quality?
Great question! The answer is “yes and no”. Look, we all have good days and challenging days, right? Well, vineyards can have good and bad years. Depending on what happens in the vineyard in any given year, we could have a range of possible outcomes impacting quantity and quality of our fruit. In Texas, the biggest issue isn’t quality - it is Quantity.
A great vintage in Texas is when we actually harvest fruit. Freeze. Hail. Hurricanes. Drought. We have all sorts of weather related calamities waiting to destroy our fruit!
The “good vs. bad vintage” analysis is mostly dependent on weather - something we can’t control. In Texas, we often see wild fluctuations in the quantity of fruit. For example, if a vineyard is hit by hail, we might lose 60% or more of the crop im 5 minutes/ If we have a late spring frost, we can lose 100% of the crop before the vines even gets started. Alternatively, if we have ideal growing weather with ample rain, we might see excess fruit. Historically, we have not had “excess” fruit, but rather we have seen weather events reduce our crop yield. For example, in 2013, our first full commercial year, we lost 90% of our fruit to late spring frosts. More recently, we lost 50% of our fruit to a combination of frost and hail in 2020!
It can be very challenging to deal with high fluctuations in our fruit quantity. One way to smooth out quantity variations is to share of the “excess” fruit from one year with a “shortage” crop from another. We did this in 2020 in response to severe winter issues reducing our Texas High Plains crop. We simply held onto some of our awesome 2019 wines to support our lower volume 2020. This is where “balanced wine” shines through.
The Champagne houses in France (full disclosure: Champagne is my #1 go-to wine, closely followed by Kuhlman Cellars Hensell) utilize blending wines from different years to create non-vintage wines that express the “house style”. Where a single vintage can tell a story of a particular year in the life of a winery, a non-vintage wine can tell a story of life in a particular winery. At Kuhlman Cellars, we aim to provide the best and most balanced wines Texas has to offer every year – even if the wine represents more than one vintage year!
Thanksgiving looks a little different in 2020. Covid-19 caused a collective upheaval in our lives and continues to pose a threat. It is sometimes difficult to remember just exactly what we are thankful for this year; a year presenting challenges for all.
BUT… Thanksgiving is about giving thanks! It is a time to acknowledge the silver linings in the dark clouds of the past nine months.
While there have been difficulties, we feel blessed. Most importantly, our team has remained healthy and safe. Many of our staff members pulled double-duty and discovered new skills in other areas of the winery. This year’s Estate vintage is exciting for many reasons, but the greatest is all members of the Kuhlman team contributed to our Estate harvest this year – a true team effort! Through Virtual Tastings and Facebook Live, we learned new ways to maintain and build community with our guests. And, we were finally able to reopen and see your smiling eyes, even if we could not see the smiles behind your masks.
This Thanksgiving, we are thankful for our health. We are thankful for our amazing, hard-working staff. We are thankful for the opportunities coming from adversity. We are thankful for our community. We are thankful for our wonderfully supportive Vina Vita club members. And, of course, we are thankful for great wine!
We wanted to make our 2020 Thanksgiving bundle something to really celebrate this year. So, we turned to the cellar for some popular, limited supply, library wines. When you look for wines complimenting your Thanksgiving favorites, the key is versatility. You want wines pairing well with a variety of foods, so make sure you have plenty on hand!
Greet your guests with our 2019 Hensell (or pour yourself a glass while you prepare the feast – we won’t tell.) This delicate Provence-style Rosé is a perfect pre-dinner drink on its own but also pairs nicely with your favorite appetizers. For the main meal, you will want to serve both a white and a red wine. Our 2018 Estate Roussanne is both bright and complex at the same time. This wine has lovely acidity with herbal notes on the nose and flavors of pear and citrus in the mouth. The 2017 Sangiovese is a perfect accompaniment due to its beautiful structure, not overly oaky or tannic, and sharp acidity. Thanksgiving meals are usually heavy enough on its own, so it is best to keep the wines refreshing.
Thank you for being part of our Kuhlman Cellars community! We wish you all a happy Thanksgiving and a delicious Thanksgiving meal!