Ever since winemaker and C.L. Butaud Wines owner Randy Hester and his wife Brooke returned to Texas from his stint helping to make wines at Cakebread Vineyards in Napa Valley, he has supported 100% Texas viticulture in all of his wines. With the wines that you will taste with me in this blog, it is apparent that his vision and intention continues today. He strives to lift the Texas wine industry from the bottom up, from dirt to bottle, by partnering with Texas grape growers to produce world class wines as are the two wines before me in bottle clad only in their stealthy and unrevealing black labels.
The two wine we’ll be tasting today are C.L. Butaud (CLB) 2020 Tempranillo (Texas High Plains) and 2021 Mourvèdre (Texas).
Randy Hester says, “Tempranillo has been our main focus since we produced out first CLB wine in 2014, and Mourvèdre has rapidly risen to be the other big red that has caught our attention more recently. There are plenty of other “big reds” to choose from in Texas, but I feel that none are sophisticated and elegant as our state’s one-two combination of Tempranillo and Mourvedre.”
C.L. Butaud 2020 Tempranillo (Texas High Plains)
This wine is made from grapes harvested at 100% Farmhouse Vineyards in the Texas High Plains AVA. It yields a sturdy 14.5% alcohol and yet also provides a perky 3.8 pH bit of acidity. Randy’s take-your-time, hands-on small lot crafting is apparent in the glass after 28 months from pressing in French oak and stainless barrels, sur lie aging, racking, and 5 months of bottle aging before release. It starts with dominant red cherry notes underlaid with earth and cedar, and evolves with a silky softness on the palate, but ends crisp and clean with a nip of mineral.
To Randy, it was clear from the start that Tempranillo was the red varietal with the highest potential for making outstanding wines that would be welcome on any table, anywhere in the world, not just here in Texas. This High Plains Tempranillo is the culmination of nine harvests and Randy is confident as ever that he has chosen the right varietal to hang his Stetson on.
C.L. Butaud 2021 Mourvedre (Texas)
This wine made from grapes harvested two-thirds from Farmhouse Vineyards (Texas High Plains) and one-third Desert Willow Vineyards in Seminole, TX (Texas AVA) just a a bit more than a yonder south. Again, Randy’s extremely careful and watchful approach on this wine rewards the taster. The earthy, dark fruit aromas rise out of the glass bringing red and blue berry notes enlightened by a spot of licorice candy. Sur lie aging brings a rich mouthfeel and the management of tannins from limited exposure to oak adds a soft but yet well-structured texture to the wine that seems to launch the wines characteristics to still higher levels once it has settled on the palate.
Hester says, “Our focus on Mourvèdre has grown more intense and more rapidly over the last several years. We feel that Mourvèdre is the other varietal with the potential to make big, red wines that can stand on the world stage. In many cases, Mourvèdre is a deep, brooding wine, that responds well to blending. But, our Texas Mourvèdre tends to be more of a complete wine on its own, usually a bit lighter-bodied than might be expected from this varietal, but it is definitely more interesting and complex than your average Mourvèdre.”
Red wines from C.L. Butaud have been on the radar of wine writers and wine organizations like the Food & Wine Foundation of Texas and the State Fair of Texas wine selection committee. Also, accolades have come from the wine writers at Forbes, Decanter and Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate.
What do you say? If you’ve been putting off a trip to C.L. Butaud or finding his wines in distribution (click here), now is the time to act. If you can get your palate wrapped around either of these two wines, there will be no disappointment and pleasure will prevail.
Click here for the C.L. Butaud website where you can make tasting room reservations and order wine online.