The Judgment of Houston Redux
With all of the talk about our recent Drink Local Wine Conference and Texas Twitter Taste-Off, I have had many emails that ask about other times that Texas wines have gone head-to-head with top rated (90+) wines from other parts of the known world. About a year ago, I posted a three part blog mini-series about a wine competition that I organized in Houston in 2004 that became known as the “Judgment of Houston”. The highlights from that blog series are given below with links back to the complete articles.
In reflection, I think that Texas wines have evolved in the positive direction since 2004 when we held that taste-off. Overal quality of the wines in the Texas Twitter Taste-Off was excellent.
The Judgment of Houston: Part 1
Rewind about thirty wine years to the mid-1970’s……France was king of wine and California was clamoring for credit. Then, on May 24, 1976, Harpers Wine and Spirit Weekly Magazine staged a double-blind tasting event that they called “The Great Cabernet Conundrum”.
This competition involved a head-to-head competition between top Californian Cabernets and the best French Bordeaux wines that was held in conjunction with The International Wine and Spirit Competition. Time magazine called the outcome “The Judgment of Paris” as the results sent reverberations around the wine world. Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars took the top spot and was catapulted into the upper echelons of winemaking, signifying that the California wine industry had come of age.
In this same spirit, The Wine Society of Texas organized “The Great Texas Conundrum” as part of its 6th annual Texas’ Best Wine Competition at the Conrad Hilton School of Hotel and Restaurant Management at the University of Houston. Approximately 150 wines entered the competition from 31 Texas wineries.
Continue Part 1 – go to: http://vintagetexas.com/blog/?p=4
The Judgment of Houston: Part 2
The major conclusion of the “Judgment of Houston” was readily evident in the rankings of the top scoring wines and how the top Texas wines placed with respect to the non-Texas ringers. The judges did their job well. They correctly identified all of the non-Texas ringers to be worthy of either gold or silver medals. Furthermore, roughly thirty of the top scoring Texas wines placed competitively with these wines.
Only one of the ringers outscored all of the Texas wines, this was the acknowledged “Wow-Wine” – Kim Crawford Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc with its intense grapefruit kick and citrus tones. Ten out of the next eleven positions were occupied by gold medal Texas wines.
The following twenty Texas wines were intermixed with the well known ringers. This shows that a good selection of Texas’ best wines have the quality to compare favorably with perennial favorites like California’s Kenwood and Chateau Souverain, and noteworthy value wines from Washington’s Columbia Crest and Australia’s Yellowtail.
Most astounding in the results was the diversity of grape varietals and winemaking styles that the gold medal winning Texas wines represented: Five were Bordeaux-style wines based on Cabernet or Merlot, one dry rosé, one Sauvignon Blanc, and three sweet wines made from Muscat and Chenin Blanc.
Continue Part 2 – go to: http://vintagetexas.com/blog/?p=5
The Judgment of Houston: Part 3
In early May, a post competition taste-off of the top ten scoring Texas wines was held at the Grand Wine & Food Affair in Fort Bend County Texas. This was a winner-take-all public event where the attendees tasted and voted for their single favorite wine out of the top ten scoring wines competition. The winner was Becker Claret, Le Trios Dames. This was the same wine that tied in the scoring with Chateau Gruaud Larose, one of the top selling restaurant red Bordeaux wines.
There were also many other interesting insights into the state of Texas wines that where highlighted by this competition friendly yet competitive event.
One aspect that is particularly exciting was the high scores for many new Texas wineries. This included the 11th ranked Zin Valley Vineyards near El Paso for their Rising Star Zinfandel.
Driftwood Vineyards also placed well with their Longhorn Red, a blend of Sangiovese and Cabernet, and a floral, semi-sweet estate produced Muscat Canelli.
San Martino Winery received two silver medals for collaborations with Newsom Vineyard for their single vineyard designated Cabernet and Reserve Cabernet.
Continue Part 3 – go to: http://vintagetexas.com/blog/?p=6
That day in 2004, Texas wines had a good showing on a world wine stage. In Dallas two weeks ago, Texas wines also had a good showing with wine writers, bloggers and aficionados from around the USA. Texans can be assured that their wines are mostly good to excellent. To be honest, there are still some Texas wineries that have not yet gotten on a quality program; but they will fall by the wayside if they don’t change….survival of the fittest will take over. One problem is that many Texas wines are in limited production and consequently a tad expense. However, this will change over time as production increases and wines get into greater distribution both within the state and in export from Texas. In the meantime, enjoy Texas wine from quality producers, let your local wine shops and restaurants know which ones you drink and enjoy. This will help grow the market for the better Texas wineries that really deserve the business.