Wine Wednesday: Take Off With Highflyer Wines



I'm a little bit conflicted. While I do support the rights of Tennessee consumers to buy wines in supermarkets, and I do favor ordering wines via mail order, in almost every case I prefer to buy wine from my favorite local wine merchants. So I've made it a point not to review wines that aren't available through Middle Tennessee wholesalers and distributors. But every now and then I find something that I want to share with Bites readers, and now that it is legal to buy from out of state wineries that have paid for their import licenses, you might as well hear about some good ones.

I'm speaking specifically this week about Highflyer Wines from Michael Austin. I first heard about these wines from the always entertaining and usually informative "3 Wine Guys" podcast. They rated the 2007 Highflyer Centerline Red as one of their best buy recommendations of last year. Even though the winery only produced 49 barrels of Centerline, they created a wine which measures up to some of the other popular "cult reds" while managing to keep the price point below $30.00/bottle.

Centerline is a blend of Syrah, Zinfandel, Tempranillo and Grenache sourced primarily from Napa Valley’s Somerston Vineyards. A small amount of Vivio Vineyard's Syrah from the northern end of the Sonoma Valley adds backbone and elements of spice to the wine. With aromas and flavors of blackberry jam, cocoa, strawberries and espresso, the palate is luxurious. Together, these varietals produce an eminently drinkable table wine which is complex and balanced. This wine is great to drink on its own, but it is ridiculously good with spicy, peppery foods including bbq.

I also tried a bottle of Highflyer's 2007 Viognier, and it is one of the best under-$20 white wines I've had in a long time. Sourced from the Borra Vineyard near where John Fogerty found himself stuck in Lodi again, 10 acres of Viognier produce a grape which is reminiscent of the finest offerings of the Rhone Valley. A bouquet of apricots and honeysuckle gives way to a focused acidity of limes and minerality. I was unaware that there was a lot of limestone and chalk in central California, but I could swear that I was drinking a crisp, dry French wine straight out of the Languedoc. Except I still had an extra $20 in my pocket.

Highflyer Wines does have distribution in Memphis, but not in Middle Tennessee yet. (Hint, hint.) Until someone brings this excellent line of wines to our area, they do ship here. I have to admit it's kind of fun to get a visit at work from the "wine fairy" when the Fed Ex guy drops off the package. Just remember that someone over 21 must be present to sign for any alcohol shipments.

To order these or any of the Highflyer Wines, fly over to their website. If you really become a fan of their wines and their clever aviation-based label designs, you can even join their Wine Club to get regular shipments throughout the year. Take a flyer!


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