Nov 252013
 

2014-Texas-Rodeo-Gold

Interesting Insights into Texas Wine from 2014 Houston Rodeo Gold

The 2014 Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo International Wine Competition judging boasted 2,505 entries, including wines from over 40 Texas wineries and 16 different countries. Medals were awarded to 2,212 wines by 20 panels of judges, consisting of wine experts, collectors and knowledgeable consumers. The total list of wining wines is available on the Houston Livestock Show Website and the complete list of Texas winners has been compiled by Jeff Cope at TXwinelover.com. The long list of Texas winery gold medal winners is given at the bottom of this blog.

My mission in this blog is to dig deeper into the results from this year’s wine competition, just focusing on the best-of-the-best: the Texas gold medal winning wines. Believe it or not, it tells a story. It’s a story different from that any other top wine producing states (California, Washington, Oregon and New York) can tell.

The Focus in Texas is NOT to Try to be Like Bordeaux or Burgundy

The bottom line is that Texas wineries are doing their best by not focusing on wines that have become known as the “California Set”. Those wines are Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir made famous by Bordeaux and Burgundy wine regions of France.

Only 11% of the gold medal wines from Texas wineries in the 2014 Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo International Wine Competition were from this group of wines. These same results indicate that gold medal wines can flow from these grapes in Texas, but everything has to be just right; the vineyard location, the weather, the winemaker, and perhaps even the phase of the Moon.

Texas IS the Mediterranean of the USA

These gold medal results indicate one thing very significant. That is, Texas IS the “Mediterranean of the USA”. Its warm summertime weather works well with grapes from southern Europe and Mediterranean shores of France, Italy and Spain, perhaps better than it does with grapes derived from the cool climes of Bordeaux and Burgundy.

The best examples of what’s working in Texas vineyards and wineries is Tempranillo, a red grape that originates from Spain that is commonly associated with their Rioja region, and red wines and blends made from Syrah, Tempranillo, Mourvedre and Sangiovese. Over 40% of the Rodeo gold medals presented to Texas wineries were for red wines and blends with a Mediterranean lineage. For white wines, it’s Viognier, a grape that similarly comes from the Rhone River Valley in southern France. Hold On to Your Hat – Tannat is Gold for Texas

Perhaps a surprise to many Texas wine drinkers who have not ventured off to wineries in out of the way places in Texas like Comfort, Alvord or Granbury is what’s happening with a so-called “no-name” grape: Tannat. It’s a grape variety derived from the Pyrenees Mountains  of far southwestern France (quite appropriately, this region is known as the French cowboy country). Tannat has  small, thick-skinned, dark purple grapes, tough dark-green, tobacco-like leaves, and has shown the ability to handle some tough conditions over the past several Texas harvests. It’s also found an affinity for blending with other grapes like Tempranillo, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. Tannat has steady gained believers in three important Texas groups: winegrowers, winemakers and now wine consumers.

Hold on to your hat. This year’s “Best Texas Wine” and Double gold winner from the Rodeo competition is Bending Branch Winery Estate Grown Tannat, Texas Hill Country, 2011. And, where do you imagine the estate is? It’s in Comfort, Texas just about 40 miles northwest of San Antonio. If that’s not enough to dispel disbelievers in the Tannat grape in Texas, Bending Branch Winery Texas Tannat, Texas High Plains, 2011 garnered a Double Gold Medal, too!

Texas Sweet Tooth

In the 2014 wine competition, 25% of Texas gold medal winning wines were for Port-, Madeira-, Dessert- or otherwise sweet-style wines. Sweet wines have been around Texas for a long time (as they have in many warmer wine regions around the world), and don’t expect them to go away anytime soon. This is one mega-wine trend in today’s marketplace where Texas has been way out in front of the curve. The example being Moscato and the current market darling: sweet red wine.

But, even better, this years results only reconfirm what many other wine competitions in the USA and in Europe have said previously: Haak Vineyards Madeira is a world-class wine. In the 2014 Rodeo competition, Haak’s Madeiras made from the Jacquez grape (also called Black Spanish or Lenoir) and Blanc Du Bois, are double gold and gold medal winners, respectively.

Non-Vintage (or better put Multi-Vintage) Texas Wines Bring Gold

With the extremes of the weather in Texas year-to-year, we are more like Europe with its variable continental climate than we are like California, which has taught us to look for vintage dated wines. Over 20% of the gold medal Texas wines from this year’s Houston Rodeo competition were non-vintage wines. This merely means that the grapes used in making the wine came from more than one year’s vintage. The problem is that wine distributors and merchants fear the lack of the vintage date on bottles of multi-vintage wines may be a problem selling to consumers. However, if over 20% of the Texas gold medal winning wines are non-vintage dated, that says these wines can be as good as or even better than many vintage wines in the marketplace.

Try some of the Texas gold medal winning wines listed below with your year-end festivities. You can generally find them at Spec’s, Central Market, Whole Foods, and you can even order then directly from the wineries and have them delivered to your front door. Ordering Texas wines direct from the wineries is as simple as typing the name of the winery into Google and pushing “search”! If being home for delivery is a problem, have them shipped to a friendly local merchant (a wig saloon across the street is my preferred drop ship point).

Cheers, enjoy and drink responsibly!

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Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo Wine Competition Texas Winery Gold Medal Winners

Becker Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve, Texas, 2011

Cabernet Sauvignon ($16-$20)

Gold (Texas Class Champion)

 

Becker Vineyards Raven, Texas Hill Country, 2011

Other Red Wines ($16 and higher)

Gold (Texas Reserve Class Champion)

 

Becker Vineyards Tempranillo Reserve, Texas High Plains, 2012

New World Tempranillo and Blends

Gold

 

Bending Branch Winery Estate Grown Tannat, Texas Hill Country, 2011

Tannat

Double-Gold (Top Texas, Class Champion, Texas Class Champion)

 

Bending Branch Winery Texas Tannat, Texas High Plains, 2011

Tannat

Double-Gold (Reserve Class Champion, Texas Reserve Class Champion)

 

Bending Branch Winery Petite Sirah Port, Paso Robles, 2009

Red Port/Port-Style

Gold

 

Bending Branch Winery Tempranillo, Newsom Vineyards, Texas High Plains, 2010

New World Tempranillo and Blends

Gold (Texas Reserve Class Champion)

 

Braman Winery Sparkles Pecan, NV

Sparkling Flavored Wines

Gold

 

Brennan Vineyards Viognier, Texas, 2012

Viognier

Double Gold (Class Champion, Texas Class Champion)

 

Brennan Vineyards Tempranillo, Texas, 2011

New World Tempranillo and Blends

Gold

 

Crossroads Winery Speed Bump, Washington State, 2012

Pinot Gris/Pinot Grigio ($16 and higher)

Gold (Class Champion)

 

Driftwood Estate Winery Longhorn Red, Texas, 2011

Cab-Syrah/Syrah-Cab Blends

Gold (Reserve Class Champion, Texas Class Champion)

 

Duchman Family Winery Tempranillo, Bayer Family Vineyards, Texas High Plains, 2011

New World Tempranillo and Blends

Gold

 

Fall Creek Vineyards Meritus, Texas Hill Country, 2010

New World Bordeaux Blend Red ($31 and more)

Gold (Texas Class Champion)

 

Georgetown Winery Lone Star Frost, Milam County, NV

Other Sweet White

Double-Gold (Class Champion, Texas Class Champion)

 

Georgetown Winery Cabernet Sauvignon, Milam County, NV

Cabernet Sauvignon ($16-$20)

Gold (Texas Reserve Class Champion)

 

Georgetown Winery Cowboy Red, Milam County, NV

Other Red Wines ($16 and higher)

Gold (Texas Class Champion)

 

Georgetown Winery Tempranillo, Milam County, NV

New World Tempranillo and Blends

Gold

 

Grape Creek Vineyards Viognier, Lost Draw Vineyard, Texas 2012

Viognier

Gold (Texas Reserve Class Champion)

 

Haak Vineyards Madeira Jacquez, Texas, 2004

Liqueur/Sherry/Madiera/Oxidized Fortified White

Double-Gold (Class Champion, Texas Class Champion)

 

Haak Vineyards Blanc du Bois Madeira, Texas, 2006

Liqueur/Sherry/Madiera/Oxidized Fortified White

Gold

 

Haak Vineyards Blanc du Bois Port, Texas, 2011

Liqueur/Sherry/Madiera/Oxidized Fortified White

Gold (Reserve Class Champion, Texas Reserve Class Champion)

 

McPherson Cellars Dry Chenin Blanc, Texas, 2012

Chenin Blanc Dry, Demi Sec, Moelleux

Gold (Reserve Class Champion, Texas Class Champion)

 

McPherson Cellars Sangiovese, Texas, 2010

New World Sangiovese and Blends

Gold (Texas Class Champion)

 

Messina Hof Ebony Port of Call, Texas, NV

Red Port/Port-Style

Double-Gold (Reserve Class Champion, Texas Reserve Class Champion)

 

Messina Hof Private Reserve “Papa Paulo” Estate Port, Texas, 2007

Red Port/Port-Style

Double-Gold (Class Champion, Texas Class Champion)

 

Perissos Vineyards Sangiovese, Texas High Plains, 2012

New World Sangiovese and Blends

Gold (Texas Reserve Class Champion)

 

Pilot Knob Vineyard Franco Rojo, Texas, 2012

New World Tempranillo and Blends

Gold (Reserve Class Champion, Texas Class Champion)

 

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