La Cruz De Comal Wines Review
Address: 7405 Fm. 2722 Canyon Lake,Texas 78133.
Phone Number: 830-899-2723
Tasting Hours: Sat-Sun 12:00-6:00
Region: Texas Hill Country AVA, Texas
Reviewer: Becky Parr
Review Date: 10/25/2013
Reviewer: Becky Parr
Texas wineries tend to be unique, but La Cruz de Comal is a Texas winery unlike any other. Its owner calls it a meeting of the Hill Country and the region of Provence in France Texas grapes and Texas character but the winemaking style of the Old World.
The Place:  La Cruz de Comal is located off highway 2722, not far from Canyon Lake, Texas. Be aware that there is a bit of a sharp turn and a downward incline to the road when you turn off 2722 dont try to take your RV down there! (No, really, I mean it!) Theres also a bit of a discrepancy on Internet map sites as to whether the winery is located in Startzville or Canyon Lake. The La Cruz de Comal website says Canyon Lake, so Im going with that. If your GPS wont find it, try Startzville.
The tasting room is in the midst of the vineyard and is quite lovely. There is a small patio in front of the tasting room where patrons can sit and relax and enjoy a glass while looking out over the vineyard. In the vineyard is a rustic cross that has some history and relates to the origin of the name La Cruz (cross) de Comal (a Mexican cooking utensil).
Inside, the tasting room has high, vaulted beamed ceilings, small sitting areas, a fireplace, and a long table that appeared to be set for company. The art is quite unusual check out the gentleman with two heads! Also, the restroom facilities are in a small outbuilding, giving you the feel of using an extremely modernized outhouse. Fun fact: the tasting room, only open since 2012, was built with lumber gleaned entirely from the winerys property.
The People:  We met Lewis Dickson, the winerys owner and winemaker, who learned his craft from California winemaker Tony Coturri. Lewis is an attorney from the Houston area who is obviously very knowledgeable and passionate about the natural winemaking process. He was the only one there when we made our visit and was having a great time with a group of five ladies sitting at the tasting counter, while taking care of a few more people on the patio. Another couple came in shortly after we did, but even then, he managed to give everyone attention and impart knowledge with a healthy dose of humor.
The Wines:  This is what truly makes La Cruz de Comal unique. Lewis emphasizes natural winemaking, meaning absolutely nothing is added to the wine during vinification. No sulfites, no sugars, nothing. Lewis explained it by saying, “I dont make the wine. I just give it a place to live.” Of course, there IS some work involved, and its all done by hand, from harvesting to hand-bottling. Lewis doesn’t make very many barrels per year, but hes absolutely fine with that. I got the sense that he would rather have a small quantity of wine, done right, than a larger quantity, done wrong. I also got the sense that he does think his way of winemaking is right and using additives is wrong and that hes pretty passionate about it.
Probably because of the natural style of winemaking, these wines were like nothing we had ever tasted. Even when we weren’t huge fans of the wine, well definitely remember it as being absolutely unique. The wines all had a rustic feel and taste about them. Because they are not filtered, sometimes the wines contain sediment in the bottles, which can bring about a cloudy appearance if not allowed to settle. Lewis recommended decanting before drinking (if sediment bothers you), and the winery website contains instructions for how to get the sediment out of the wine if you wish to do so.
Also, because the wine is alive, as Lewis calls it the natural yeasts are still active and the fermentation process has not been arrested the wine will likely change in the bottle and even in the glass. If you drink a bottle over an evening, the first glass wont taste the same as the last. Im excited to experiment with this and see how interesting the wine can get!
We tasted two whites, the Cuvee Kamas and LD3 Rose (dry). Neither was like anything Id drunk before. Initially I thought the Cuvee Kamas had a rather odd finish, but it smoothed out after the first sip. The Cohete Rojo (Red Rocket, in Spanish) is a blend that differs from year to year and contains some combination of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Black Spanish. Lewis gave us an impromptu lesson in opening this bottle it gathers a little CO2 and accompanying effervescence, so dont open this bottle fast or you might be wearing it! My fiance described it as having currant, black cherry, and leather flavors. Like the whites, it got better with each sip.
I thought the Cohete Rojo was my favorite until I tasted the Troubadour. This wine is made from 100% Black Spanish grapes, and not being terribly familiar with this variety, I was keen to try it. It has an excellent nose, and Lewis is right it lives in the glass and just gets better as it goes along.
There were also two fortified wines that were not terribly sweet, as opposed to others I’ve tasted. The Apres tasted to me of honey and roasted pecans; I found it quite good, although I am not usually a fan of dessert style wines. The Quinta de la Cruz is slightly effervescent and smells a bit of chocolate-covered strawberries.
It almost doesn’t seem fair to have to assign a 1 to 5 rating on these wines, using the same scale I use for all other wines. These wines are so different that its almost like comparing apples to crackerjacks!