Medium ruby color; blackberry, black cherry, plum, meat, leather on the nose; black cherry, blackberry, roasted meat, vanilla on the palate.
Dry; medium-plus body; velvety tannins and balancing acidity (3.53 pH). Mostly mourvèdre (aka monastrell) with some petit verdot to add color depth. Fermented in stainless steel, aged a year in second-use and neutral American oak, so there is only a slight oak influence. 13.8% ABV
Pedernales Cellars is a premier Texas maker with an admirable commitment to sustainable viticulture and ecological reverence. The sixth-generation Texans who own and run the operation have a particular focus on tempranillo and viognier—grapes that appear destined to be signature Texas varieties. Mourvèdre is another grape that enjoys hot weather, and they are experimenting with this. With this, it seems the experiments are going well.
Larry and Jeanine Kuhlken started the Kuhlken Vineyards in the Texas Hill Country in 1995. Over time, the Kuhlken vineyards developed to produce high-quality fruit with bold, intense flavors. The Texas Hill Country AVA—the second-most visited AVA in the U.S., only behind Napa—is slightly lower in elevation (1,000-2,500 feet) than its sister Texas High Plains AVA to the north (3,000-4,000 feet elevation), but shares some High Plains terroir notes. About 85% of Texas grapes are grown on the High Plains. The Hill Country dominates as the winery-tourist destination; the High Plains dominates grape production. The grapes for this wine came from the High Plains.
Pedernales Cellars has vineyards on the 17-acre Kuhlken estate near the winery in Stonewall, Texas, in the Texas Hill Country AVA roughly located between Austin and San Antonio. The Parr Vineyards are located near the Kuhlken Vineyards in the Hill Country. The Bingham Family Vineyards and Farm are located on the High Plains, as are the Newsome Vineyards, Reddy Vineyards, and Farmhouse and Lahey vineyards. These grapes came from Farmhouse and Lehey blocks.
In 2005, Larry and Jeanine’s children, David and Julie and their spouses Heather Kuhlken and Fredrik Osterberg, began plans for Pedernales Cellars. They imagined a boutique winery focused on handcrafted, small-lot Spanish and Rhône-style wines. Mourvèdre is a southern Rhône staple in GSM—grenache, syrah, mourvèdre—blends.
Sustainability is a particular Kuhlken focus—their cellar and case storage facility is cooled by a geothermal system that cuts energy consumption by half. By-products of winemaking are composted. Barrels are “re-coopered” (refurbished). Ground cover helps reduce water use, and brush clearing helps re-establish seeps and springs. Local species of insect eaters—particularly Purple Martins—help control vineyard pests.
Today’s winery remains a family affair with David Kuhlken the winemaker, Fredrik Osterberg the president, and Julie in charge of design and marketing. Larry and Jeanine continue to oversee the vineyards. Heather is a freelance photographer who provides photographic art at the winery and tasting room. Pedernales Cellars draws its name from the Pedernales River; “pedernales” is Spanish for “flint.” Further inspiration came when David found a flint projectile point in the vineyard and Fredrik found a flint ax on the winery site.
Pedernales Cellars Texas Mourvèdre 2019 is smooth, intriguing wine. Presents but does not flaunt classic dark fruit, smoke, meatiness of mourvèdre. Pedernales Cellars first began bottling this as a varietal in 2017. Prior to that, they used their mourvèdre allocations in their GSM blend. Some of the grapes were not crushed—causing carbonic fermentation where fermentation begins inside the intact grape. That delivered more complexity and smoothness.
Pair with barbecue; wild game—venison, wild boar; pork; sausage; lamb; short ribs; hamburger; pizza; most grilled meats. Cheese—mild, medium or smoked cheddar; edam; glouchester; manchego; aged provolone; pecorino; smoked gouda. $40