All three wines in the Pontotoc range are named after landmarks visible from the winery. One is the vineyard itself, another the San Fernando Academy, the ruins of which stand right at the winery’s front door. This one has a grander parent, a gentle beast of a mountain in the Hill Country that rises gently above Pontotoc and that looks vaguely like a smoothing iron. Driving around Llano and Mason Counties, one can’t avoid seeing this rounded landform on the horizon, putting us all into some kind of perspective.
This particular blend is what I jokingly call a Super Texan: a cross between Tempranillo, a variety that seems to do really well in the Hill Country, and Cabernet, the prestige import. Of all the wines in Pontotoc Vineyard’s 2011 portfolio, this will probably taste the most familiar to those without any exposure to Texan wines. Whether this is a good or a bad thing depends entirely on one’s point of view.
To my palate, the Cabernet component has tamed some of the estate vineyard’s natural exhuberance; the aroma here is dusty, with hints of Cabernet leaf, showing dark fruit and lightly coconutty oak. Compared to the straight 2011 Tempranillo, this tastes a smidge darker and less angular, with perhaps less fruit and more savoury elements.
In the mouth, lots of coffee and milk chocolate, dusty Cabernet fruit with some flashes of brighter berries. It’s vibrant and fresh-tasting, though again a more adult, streamlined wine than the straight Tempranillo. Palate structure is a highlight, with fine tannins and enough acid to carry the finish but not constrict the mid-palate. There’s also a lovely biscuit-like flavour that I especially like.
Wines from this region aren’t naturally built up or full bodied; rather, their value lies in elegance, transparency and freshness. However, I imagine there’s a demand for more robust styles that can stand up to the equally robust foods of the region. This wine should meet that need well, as it’s a touch more structured and darker in flavour profile, despite its inevitably moderate body.
Note: For the 2013 vintage, I was an intern with Don Pullum, the maker of this wine.