If you want to be where the oenophiles are, head to Calais Winery on Saturday, November 9, from 3 to 6 pm. That's when this small winery in Deep Ellum will host a rare side-by-side tasting of its two most recent Bordeaux blends, the 2010 and the 2011.
Both releases are special: The 2011 is brand new, and the 2010 is entirely sold out. As in, you can't buy it anymore.
The 2011 Bordeaux is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc, all from Newsom Vineyards in Plains, Texas. With only 50 cases produced, it's a very limited release. Calais has only released a Bordeaux three out of the past six years.
"The Bordeaux is our most expensive wine, and if it isn't good, we won't make it every year," says owner Benjamin Calais.
"The Bordeaux is our most expensive wine, and if it isn't good, we won't make it every year," says Benjamin Calais, who owns the winery with his wife, Melynn. The 2011 came out of unusual circumstances.
"2011 was the year we had a big drought, over 100 degrees," he says. "It was so dry that we ended up harvesting only 15 to 20 percent of our grapes. But the little bit that was left was unbelievable.
"Every wine from 2011 has been a beautiful wine. We lost a lot of yield, but the drought had some positive aspects. The wines ripened evenly, and they're beautiful and dark."
Newsom Vineyards is located on the New Mexico border, southwest of Lubbock. Calais says that it's one of the most expensive and best grapes in Texas.
"They have better elevation," he says. "Their yield is low so people don't want to pay the costs to farm out there. But the wine has more fruit, more berries. It's a higher-quality wine."
In addition to the 2011 Bordeaux, Calais is also releasing an unusual white that's a signature for the winery, the 2012 vintage Roussanne. "It's probably our best-selling wine, because it's the one we have more of, and it's more reliable," he says.
The 2011 will be available by the glass for $12 and by the bottle for $48. The Roussanne will be available for $8 a glass and $22.17 for a bottle.
Calais Winery is unique in that it uses Texas fruit combined with its owner's expertise as a native of France. The tasting room is open every Friday and Saturday and by appointment the rest of the week.
The winery opened in Deep Ellum during a time when the neighborhood was almost at rock bottom. Now Calais is surrounded by neighbors such as Deep Ellum Postal & Grocer and Monkey King Noodle Co.
"We're happy to see them, and it is bringing more traffic into our area," Calais says. "But we still don't see a lot of people walking from one spot to another. That's something that isn't happening yet."