All, I can say today is… WOW! I may be the last person in Texas (or, maybe on the planet) to taste the Bar Z Winery 2016 Pinot Noir.
With that admission out of the way, I need to take you back in time to the 2018 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition (SFCWC) that received 6,960 entries from 35 states. It’s one of the largest and most prestigious international wine competitions bring in some of the best wines from America and from many places around the world. From this, I want to call your attention to a particular gold medal winner in the Pinot Noir category. It’s Bar Z Winery’s 2016, Bayer Family Vineyards, Pinot Noir.
Maybe my delay in tasting this wine makes me what some may call “a reverse wine snob”, or more likely this makes me the biggest Texas Pinot Noir wine snob. I’ll admit that my preconceived notions got the best of me just like it did previously with Texas Chardonnay. But, I got things straightened out on that subject with the head-snapping results when I was a judge in the Houston Rodeo International Wine Competition in 2016. This is when a Fall Creek Vineyards, Certenberg Vineyard Chardonnay won the bragging rights to the Best White Wine in the whole dang competition of more than 3000 worldwide entries.
I’ll also admit to being an advocate for Texas to grow warm-weather European vinifera grapes because it frankly makes sense – Texas is more like warmer regions of southern France, Italy, Spain, and Portugal. In fact, I’ve been quoted as saying “Texas sure ain’t Bordeaux, and it sure as hell’s not Burgundy. Well, now let me take a minute to eat my words…Chomp Chomp Chomp!
Flatly, I can say that this Bar Z Winery, Bayer Family Vineyard, Pinot Noir is a special wine. Dale Robertson, wine columnist for the Houston Chronicle, and I tasted it while socially distanced on my open-air front patio, and you know what… It pleased. As Dale professed, “This wine would fit right into the mix of the Pinots in my Chronicle tasting panel.” My take is that the Bar Z Winery’s Pinot Noir is a mainstream unfiltered Pinot Noir with a medium-plus body, smooth tannins, and also offering black-raspberry fruit combined with truffles, smoke, and even a bit of licorice.
In my conversation with Bar Z Winery owner and winemaker Monty Dixon, he said, “I’ve got to give credit to the vineyard. It’s a real good site. The vineyard has good air drainage and the soil is basically sand straight down to caliche limestone, near-perfect conditions for water drainage. I feel that both of these factors are critical for growing Pinot Noir on the Texas High Plains. In the winery with my Pinots, I just try to take my time and not rush them into barrel and then into bottle.”
My Texas Wineslinger opinion is that this wine is just another example of what should make all Texans remember that Texas IS a big place. There are areas within our boundaries, in particular vintages, and with the right growing/winemaking techniques performed under a watchful eye and a careful hand that make just about anything possible.
Well, slap my face! When it comes to growing and making wine in Texas, maybe it’s just time for me to learn to never say never, again!
The Bar Z Winery, Bayer Family Vineyard, 2016 Pinot Noir is still available for online (www.barzwines.com) purchase of it you just happen to be driving through Amarillo for $32 a bottle. For those in Houston, alas. It was sold at the Houston Wine Merchant but is currently sold out. You might ask if they are planning to carry in some of the recent vintages when available.