As part of the Sommelier Tour there is a guided tasting, but is also offered as an option on its own. The wines change monthly, so its worth visiting often.
The guided tasting is 6 wines with a blend of red and whites. You can see the 6 options for July 2022 in the picture to the right, before I started writing my notes all over it.
2020 “Trocken” Riesling
I have realized that I am not a fan of Rieslings, so take my commentary with a grain of salt (as my grandmother would say). I thought it tasted better than it smelt, and it tasted like a green apple Jolly Rancher. So a bit sweet sour, but the slow finish is in the end sweet. I made a note that I would put this with Lobster Mac-n-Cheese. This is the first dry Riesling that Llano has ever produced. (Trocken is German for dry.) I also noted this is from the Dell Valley Vineyard, which is near El Paso, Texas. [Llano’s notes]
2019 Fumé Blanc
My notes say that this is a blend of Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc in new oak. Llano’s notes show it’s heavy on the Semillon. The butter scent with pear is smooth and refreshing. It hits the tongue in such a way that you do want to take another sip. I’d give this a strong Tuesday/Wednesday rating. [Llano’s notes]
2019 “Les Caillerets” Viognier
I noted “Texas Chardonnay” next to this one – so I’m guessing that’s something someone in our small group on the tour (4 people) said about the wine. I got a petroleum scent or slightly plastic scent. My tasting notes say “green apple and green beans (waxy?)” which in no way comes close to how Llano describes this wine. I know this is one I didn’t particularly care for, but would be willing to try again on another day. [Llano’s notes]
Ah, the Sangiovese. It was a bit different than what I had during the barrel tasting. This had a berry scent with a cherry-apple pie flavor. Despite the dry start it finished smooth. The sommelier noted that 2019 was an especially hot year, so this Sangiovese is lighter in color than most other years. It still had a dark red edge to the wine when you looked at it. I’d put this on a Wednesday onward on my scale. [Llano’s notes]
Dolcetto means “little sweet one.” And this one comes from the One Way Vineyard near La Mesa, Texas. When poured the bubbles on the wine surface stayed for some time and it had a pink edge when examined in the light. Despite the sweet smell it had flavors of warm spice. This would pair well with dairy like a nice brie or even with a Bolognese sauce, so it’s a rather versatile wine. I’d give it a Tuesday/Wednesday, but it might be a Sunday dinner wine at my house if only the cousins I like are coming for lasagna. (It has a Thursday price.) [Llano’s notes]
2017 “Lahey” Zinfandel
The sommelier described this as “Thanksgiving in a Glass” and I would have to agree. Having visited the Lahey Vineyards since trying this wine it speaks to me even more. It has a lot of natural acidity. It starts with a sweet taste and then spreads warmth across the tongue with a finish of a hot spice like clove. This is a special occasion wine – even if you are just celebrating not telling your boss in an un-ladylike manner where he can stick his urgent request at 5pm on a Tuesday. You have things to do… like drink wine, and celebrating remaining ladylike..
Ruby Red Port
We tried the Ruby Red port. It was the 2020 vintage, so it’s not yet on the website. This port has bright fruit but is very brown for a “ruby red” port – almost closer to a tawny port color. It’s warm and sweet when tasted and I can see serving this warm with an orange slice. I noted the flavors would go well with the mincemeat tarts I make at Christmas time because of the apple and cinnamon flavor in both. It’s not your “everyday” port, but it’s a good one to end a dinner party.
So, since the neighbors were taking care of the dog while this trip was going on, I asked about something like a Malbec to send them as a thank you. This lead to tasting the malbec [Llano’s notes] and me shipping two bottles to them. Which makes me smile as I know I will get to enjoy this richly flavored wine one Sunday evening soon.
Did you count the tastings? It was more than six. I probably could have sat and tasted even more if we didn’t have to leave for other commitments.
A trip to Llano for a tasting is worth it, even if you don’t do a tour. Llano is not the grocery store wine you remember thinking was the Carlo Rossi or EJ Gallo of Texas. It has truly evolved into a world class winery with a beautiful tasting room and grounds.