Sunday, September 30, 2012

The New Kid on the Block--Twisted Pine, Hill City

Today I spent an absolutely wonderful day in the Black Hills, walking thirteen miles from the Crazy Horse Monument to Hill City, South Dakota on the Mickelson Trail.  This absolutely beautiful walk was made even better when after I finished, I stopped at the newest wine tasting room in the Black Hills.  Twisted Pine Winery, on Main Street in Hill City, is the latest addition to the continuing wine boom in this area (that I love and love to talk about!).

The wines are actually New Mexico wines, produced in that state from grapes there.  If any of you raised your eyebrows at the thought of wine in NM, I found out today that the state actually has the longest history of winemaking in our country.  Franciscan monks brought grapevines and wine making to the area with the Spaniards and starting producing their own vino in 1629.  Today, the New Mexico wine industry is growing fast, helped along with the two lines of wine Twisted Pine now carries in South Dakota:  The Relleno Brothers and Noisy Water Winery.  Mary Jo, the manager at Twisted Pine, has a personal connection with New Mexico--she lived there before migrating to Hill City and her son is associated with the winery.

These wines were quality and unique, showing some of the heat of the New Mexican climate.  Noisy Water produces diverse white wines with everything from a sweet Moscato, Riesling, Gewurztraminer, Symphony blend, to a semi-sweet Malvasia Blanc, to a lightly oaked Chardonnay.  For reds, Noisy Water produces a spicy Sangiovese, Primitivo blend, a woody Merlot, and an award winning (from the Finger Lakes Wine Competition, my newest favorite wine region—see my recent blog post) Wine Maker’s Barrel Select Cabernet Sauvignon.   Relleno Brothers produces a lighter-bodied Cab, Merlot blend called El Cabron Viejo (meaning the “old goat” or “old S.O.B”), a single varietal Hab’s Cab, and a semi-sweet Riesling.  Both lines use some unique grapes, like a Semillon, Sierra Blanca, and Pinot Grigio; again, not grapes you would necessarily associate with the Southwest United States.  The most unique wine we tasted today, however, was actually the Besito Caliento—“Hot Little Kiss”—by the Relleno Brothers, a wine made with green chiles from Hatch, New Mexico. After being a bit scared of the (absolutely gorgeous) green color, I tasted my first green chile wine.  It had a hint of the green chiles, yet wasn’t hot or spicy.  Definitely worth a tingle to your palette!  (Side note:  I bought the Wine Maker’s Barrel Select Cab by Noisy Water and the El Cabron Viejo by Relleno Brothers.)

In addition to the wine that impressed me, there were tasty cheeses (also from NM), heavenly olive oils, and scrumptious balsamic vinegars.  The twenty-five year aged balsamic was just as good as the aged balsamic I’ve been going to Colorado to get!  Imagine my pleasure now that I know I can get it just one hour from home. 

I always love to celebrate with a glass of wine, and my celebratory wine today was made even more triumphant since it was at the new kid on the wine block in my “neighborhood.”  I thoroughly enjoyed my first visit to the Twisted Pine tasting room and look forward to going back!