Texas Wine Month 2018 is Over… But, Oh What a Great Month it Was!
Annually, October is Texas Wine Month, the month when we sip, savor and celebrate our wonderful, fifth-largest-in-the-USA wine industry. Well, it’s now November and Texas Wine Month is over, but from my vantage point in Houston, oh what a great month it was.
Actually, the action started a couple days before October 1 with a tasting of Fall Creek Vineyards new “super-premium” line of wines sold under their totally new Exterra label. These wines focus on the Mediterranean character of our sun-drenched Texas climate and limestone-infused terroir with single varietal selections of Exterra Syrah, Mourvedre, and Tempranillo. Before they were even opened, they offered the classy look of a super-premium wine experience with black and gold labels on dark, weighty bottles. If you look closely and hold the bottle to the light just right, the black labels show the contour lines of a relief map denoting the hill country terroir from which they came. Without pouring you a taste, they can be best described as the full monty of intense, lush wines with the opacity and body expected from extreme high-end wines these days. The five top-scoring Fall Creek Vineyards wines reviewed for American Wine Revolution on JamesSuckling.com include these three new EXTERRA wines and two Fall Creek Vineyards Terroir Reflection series wines: Chardonnay and GSM.
The EXTERRA wines, available only at the winery or Driftwood tasting room, shout out loudly that Texas has finally arrived on the international, super-premium wine scene. But, expect to pay for the experience. They come with a hefty $100 per bottle price tag.
On October 12, Dale Robertson’s Houston Chronicle column again ran with my Texas wine picks for Texas Wine Month (click here). My available-in-Houston top selections were:
- 2016 Ron Yates Winery Sauvignon Blanc, Martin Family Vineyards, Texas High Plains
- 2015 Los Pinos Ranch Vineyards Texican, Texas High Plains (Italian blend)
- Bending Branch Winery Branch Texas Red (Multivintage/multivarietal blend)
- 2016 Messina Hof Winery Sagrantino Reserva, Texas
Also featured was the awarding of Wine Enthusiast’s Top 100 Wine Restaurants for 2018 status to Chef Ross Burtwell’s Fredericksburg-based, destination-restaurant – Cabernet Grill at Cotton Gin Village. It comes complete with a 1200 bottle all-Texas wine list curated by Sommelier Elizabeth Rodriguez and several luxurious rustic cabins. To complete the shout-outs, I also included a quick list of my “thumbs up” wine list including: 2016 Duchman Family Vineyards Vermentino; 2016 Brennan Vineyards Lily (white blend); 2016 McPherson Cellars Viognier; Haak Vineyards Dry Blanc Du Bois (2017) and Tempranillo (2016); 2015 Becker Vineyards Cabernet; and 2013 Kiepersol Syrah – all available in many Houston stores.
On October 17th, the legacy Texas family behind the early planting of Texas wine grapes over 30 years ago, the Newsom family (Neal and Janice, son Nolan and daughter-in-law YanMei) came to town for a wine dinner held that El Mason in Rice Village. It was a chance to taste some of Texas’s truly good juice paired with the fine Cubano-Spanish-Latin cuisine of Chef Pedro Angel Garcia. The wines included Albarino, Tempranillo, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, and (sweet-not-dry) Orange Muscat. If you missed this event, no worries – just stop into their tasting room in Comfort, Texas (click here).
Just when I thought I couldn’t get into a more celebratory state-of-mind, there came three Houston-based Texas wine events in two days. First up, a wine and cheese event featuring the wines from William Chris Vineyards with the tasting guided by winery co-owner and winemaker Chris Brundrett. It was held at the huge (and equally wonderous) new Whole Foods Market on Post Oak Boulevard. We tasted William Chris Pétillant Naturel (natural sparkling wine with primary fermentation, still living “and breathing” right in the bottle) Rosé followed by Mary Ruth White Blend, Mourvedre and two Skeleton Key wines (proprietor’s red and white blends). If you have not tasted their PetNat or Mourvedre or other fine wines, you should. Their wines are available at many of our Whole Foods Markets and their tasting room in Hye, Texas (click here).
Later that evening we joined friends for a Texas wine dinner hosted at Churrascos’ River Oaks Restaurant in the Shepard Square shopping center. They featured a range of Texas wines paired with separate courses: Viognier and Tempranillo from Pedernales Cellars, a red blend from Red Caboose Winery, and Locations TX (6 variety red blend).
The following day the Houston Wine Merchant hosted a Texas wine tasting featuring a selection of Ron Yates Wines. It was complete with a visit by Ron Yates who poured his wines and answered questions as we tasted. As in the case of the Willam Chris tasting the previous day, we started with a PetNat – not one, but two… a white made from Malvasia Bianca and a rosé made from Sangiovese. However, his preferred spelling is Petulant Naturel. From there, we went on to taste his Sauvignon Blanc (from my Houston Chronicle selections) made from grapes harvested from incredible old grapevines that were planted in 1984 in Martin’s Vineyard. Then, we went to the Grenache rosé, Sangiovese, Mourvedre, and Cabernet.
If you’re not tired out reading about my Texas wine month activity, great! It took a lot out of me, but I managed. I guess, someone has to do it. And, you know what? It’s a new month and let’s see what Texas wines November brings – maybe I’ll pop some PetNat for Thanksgiving Day.
Thank you so much for coming to our event at Post Oak Whole Foods Market, Russ! We hope you enjoyed the tasting.