VintageTexas Top Ten Texas Wines of 2012 – Red Wines

VintageTexas Top Ten Texas Wines of 2012 – Red Wines

Moving on from yesterday’s posting of the contingent of five white wines in my 2012 VintageTexas Top Ten Wines (Click here), it’s time to present the red wines that topped my scale this year. I mentioned previously that the selection of just five white wines was hard, but I believe that the selection of the best five red wines was even harder.

Yesterday, I neglected to mention that I purposely did not reference Jessica Dupuy’s fine 2012 top wine list at Texas Monthly Eat My Words Blog during my deliberations. This way you will get a separate view, but perhaps still with some duplicates.

Also, please keep in mind that these are all wines that I’ve personally tasted during 2012, and unlike a certain wine blogger called out by Palate Press (click here), none of these wineries “paid-to-play”.

Well, here goes:

Red Caboose Winery Range Rider Tempranillo Blend, Multi-Vintage

I literally stumbled onto this wine during a trip to the north central parts of Texas during the summer. I paid a much overdue visit to Gary and Evan McKibben the principals at Red Caboose Winery in Meridian. This is the wine that lit Sommelier Bill Elsey and me up on the topic of non-vintage (or more nicely described as multi-vintage) wine. It is a blend of estate-grown Syrah, Tempranillo and Cabernet from the 2008 and 2009 vintages that was oak-aged for 24 months and left unfiltered.  It has a dark ruby color, intense licorice, tobacco and coffee characteristics with a long smooth finish. I never thought that non-vintage (urr – multi-vintage) could be so good. Evidently, the judges at the recent 2013 Houston Rodeo Wine Competition thought similarly and gave this wine a double gold award. I can’t remember if this is the award that comes with boots, hat, buckle, chaps or saddle; Gary might look good in chaps!

Photo Courtesy of Jeff Cope –

Calais Winery La Cuvée du Manoir Tempranillo 2010, Newsom Vineyard

Llano Estacado Cellar Reserve Tempranillo 2010, Newsom Vineyard

I’m going to list these two wines together under the heading of “Texas Tempranillo”. Why….for four reasons: (1) Tempranillo is rapidly becoming the “National Grape of Texas”, (2) it’s the bloggers prerogative, (3) accordingly it helps me to squeeze one more red wine in this category, and last but definitely not least, (4) they are both made from Newsom Vineyards Tempranillo – that’s really incredible starting material.

Both of these wines excelled during our recent #TXwine Twitter Tuesday Tempranillo Tastes and Tweet event in November. That night, we had an intimate dining room tasting of 15 Texas Tempranillos with some friends and ended up having over a half million Twitter impressions with something like 32,000 followers stopping by for a visit and a virtual taste of these wines.

The Calais Tempranillo is what I call “a Tempranillo made by a Frenchman” – unfiltered, thick, opaque red-black color combined with red berry characteristics and well integrated French oak aging. I really liked Ben Calais’s 2009 Tempranillo and love this 2010 (available at the winery).

The Llano Estacado Tempranillo is a well-made wine by the Bruni-Hull winemaking duo. Pleasurable in many ways (flavors, aroma, structure and earthy character) and it’s also affordable and available in distribution in most urban centers in Texas thanks to Spec’s.

Marnelle Durrett and Pierre de Wit – Kiepersol Estate

Kiepersol Estates Stainless Syrah 2010

For this wine, I have to go back to early in the year when I did a tasting of Texas wines at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, and experienced it again at our Sunday morning Texas wine panel at the Austin Food & Wine Festival in April. The Kiepersol Stainless Syrah is a big wine literally dripping with black fruit qualities complete with an underlay of tannic structure, but not a lick of this wine touched oak. It was all done with cold soaking and extended maceration. I’m personally quite proud of Kiepersol winemaker Marnelle Durrett (with encouragement from her father Pierre de Wit) for having the courage and patience to make this wine. It’s wonderful and hopefully there will be more to come.

Becker Vineyards Claret 2010

I’ve liked this wine for many years. It’s not expensive (usually in the range of $14-16) and this 2010 vintage is special. I tasted it first as a judge in this year’s Lone Start International Wine Competition in June where we gave it a gold award in their international division. That alone is a statement on this wine’s quality. After the competition when I found out what it was I judged, it knocked me out. Becker Claret has a medium-plus body with a blend of red and black berries and a vanilla-spice note of oak aging.  It doesn’t over power but melds when paired with a wide range of foods, from grilled meats, steak apouve, or even salmon.

Llano Estacado Viviano Superiore Rosso 2008

Like the previous wine, this wine has garnered awards year after year and, like truly great wines, stands the test of time. I have representatives of Llano Estacado Viviano from 2000, 2005 and 2007 vintages aging in my cooler and showing well. The 2008 joins them. This Viviano is a blend of about 73% Cabernet Sauvignon and 20% Newsom Vineyard Sangiovese, with a smidgen of other red varieties to finish off the blend. It shows something different every time I taste it, which is what I guess defines complexity and is an attribute of a fine red wine. Dark aromas and flavors predominate but notes of red fruit, coffee and vanilla prevail along with the characteristic cedar of all Vivianos developed during over 2 years of barrel aging.

Llano Estacado Winemakers – Greg Bruni & Chris Hull
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Love to taste, talk and tweet about Texas wines and where they are in the global scheme for wines. After all that's the only way they will reach the full potential.

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