It has been said that the process of making wine is equal parts art and science. There is a great deal of science that goes into choosing the grape that suits the climate, analyzing the soil, timing the chemical reactions. There is also the art: the vision, the senses that surpass science, the gift of expression, for the grape and the winemaker. There is the experience of sharing a glass and being transported.
If asked, I would say that the winemakers at William Chris Winery may lean towards the artistic, and not just because of their choices in wine making. You don’t have to go much past the front door to see that art has a prominent role in the lives of Bill Blackmon and Chris Brundrett. From the pastels in the front room, to the stark and striking pump in the hall, it is easy to see that they have an affinity for the visual.
If a stroll through the property hasn’t convinced you of that, head to the tasting room. Last year, Bill and Chris began the Artist Series with the release of the 2010 Artist Blend. On the label is Dancing Junipers, by Ruth Blackmon, Bill’s mother. In the bottle is a blend of Mourvèdre, Tempranillo, Cabernet Franc, and Merlot from Lost Draw Vineyards in Brownfield, Texas. I would love to describe it for you, but it is no longer available.
They recently released the 2011 Artist Blend which features the artwork of Bill Blackmon. The untitled piece was done in pen and ink when Bill was just eighteen. This wine is a blend of Sangiovese, Merlot, Mourvèdre, Syrah, and Cabernet Sauvignon. The grapes were grown in both the High Plains and the Hill Country of Texas.
I asked Chris about the series. He stated that the Artist Series gives them a chance to step outside the box, to blend AVAs, and have a little more fun with the wine. He noted that, in this wine, you get the “dusty sage” from the High Plains and the “anise and eucalyptus” from the Granite Hill winery, fifteen miles north of Fredricksburg. In addition to those characteristics, I get a lot of red cherry, strawberry, and spiced plums. It is bright in the front and smooth on the finish. This wine is very easy to drink. It does not require food, but could be taken in many directions. I would pair it with charcuterie and cheeses or Italian, really, anything with herbs. It was wonderful with some rosemary almonds.
My first visit to William Chris Winery was in the late spring. The lighting was magical, the wines delightful, and the company was unforgettable. It is the kind of place that feels like home, or at least what I’d like home to feel like. Bill Blackmon and Chris Brundrett have created something beautiful in the bottle and out. I would say they are artists, indeed.
Article by Alissa Leenher, SAHMmelier for Texas Wine and Trail Magazine