2010 Top Ten Texas Wines from VintageTexas and More: Five Honorable Mentions (and for good reasons)

I know that I promised that I was going to mention just my 2010 Top Ten Wines. Well, I did that. See:

Installment #1 – http://vintagetexas.com/blog/?p=2892

Installment #2 – http://vintagetexas.com/blog/?p=2936

However, I still had several wines left that offered me a special taste of Texas in 2010. They were wines that provided a bit of the here-and-now of the Texas wine experience and some interesting features of what’s-to-come in our Texas wine future. Here they are; my 2010 five honorable mentions:

Brushy Creek Vineyards, Sparkling Blanc Du Bois, Texas 2009

Texas can now legally lay claim to Blanc Du Bois as its own grape. There is more of it grown in Texas than anywhere else in the whole dang world and winemakers have learned the necessary harvest and process parameters that make Blanc Du Bois into a wide variety of world-class wines and in a variety of styles, too. Here is a new one. Les Constable at Brushy Creek Vineyards (Alvord, TX) has been experimenting with making sparkling Texas wines (actually made here, from Texas-grown grapes and not imported from wineries in California or New Mexico). This Sparkling Blanc Du Bois is Texas’s answer to Italy’s Asti Spumante. It’s semi-sweet and effervescent, fun and friendly. It’s like a sparkling fruit cocktail. I hope Les makes more in 2010 and others like Haak Vineyards, Tara Vineyard and Enoch’s Stomp will follow.

Bending Branch Winery, Tannat, Texas High Plains, 2008

Most people have never heard of Tannat, the grape with a Pyrenees lineage. Some say its French and others say that it’s Spanish. Either way, I feel that its the future Red Zinfandel of Texas. This Texas Tannat from Bob Young’s Bending Branch Vineyards (Comfort, TX), made from grower Vijay Reddy’s Texas high plains fruit, is thick, opaque and “teethstainingly” purple. It’s driven by a new world Tannat style invented in South America. In addition to having the necessary attributes to be a good performer in Texas as a varietal wine, it can add depth and a voluptuous quality to blends with Cabernet, Merlot, Syrah, and Tempranillo, too. We have just begun to learn where Tannat could take Texas red wines. Stay tuned for more….

Dickson Petard Blanc, Texas, Estate Blanc Du Bois

If you like micro-wineries and purely natural wines, you will fall head over heels with Lewis Dickson’s Petard Blanc from La Cruz de Comal Wines (Sparksville, TX). Contray to what has become the classic Texas fruit-forward style for Blanc Du Bois, Lewis Dickson and California winemaker Tony Coturri have concocted an enchantingly earthy and minerally wine, reminiscent of old world France. The magic is in harvest small batches of Lewis’s estate-grown, Texas hill country grapes, fermentation with native yeast strains and let the wine make itself. This wine proves that Texas can be in the “sweet-spot” of winemaking and it doesn’t require high technology and gross over manipulation of the wine when you have the right grape.

Duchman Family Winery, Vermentino, Texas, 2009

I liked the Duchman (previously Mandola) Winery 2008 Vermentino and the 2009 is even better. This wine should have been in the Top 10, but in fairness to the other really good Texas wines, I already had the Duchman Dolcetto as my top wine of 2010. Furthermore, I feel that Texas Vermentino from Duchman and hopefully other wineries around the state has a destiny for greatness. In 5 to 10 years, if Vermentino is not the top one or two of white varietals in the state, its likely to be the results of market manipulation/control by the major Texas wine distributors (trying to make Texas be like California – An utterly  stupid thing to do!) and not because people don’t like it. Duchman Vermentino is light, refreshingly crisp and dry with citrus, pear and herbal notes. By the way, I hear that it was Oz Clarke’s favorite wine when he visited Texas recently.

Haak Vineyards and Winery 2006 Madeira Blanc Du Bois, Texas, 2006

I’ve known Raymond Haak for a while now and just can’t seem to stop calling him the Impresario of Blanc Du Bois. This grape can be grown anywhere from the Texas Gulf Coast to its north coast  that borders on the Red River. As Raymond has shown, it’s adaptable too and can be crafted into nearly any style of white wine: light and dry, off-dry, sweet, and in this case barrel treated and “overaged” in an Estuffa oven at 105 F for three months to produce a Madeira-style wine. The day I visited the Haak winery (Santa Fe, TX), Raymond presented me a flight of his “Blanc” that included five wine, each in different style. In the glass, this Haak Madeira has a coppery-yellow cast that is followed by what I can only described by nose and palate as a sweet yet zesty compote of poached tree fruits (peach, pear and apricot) combined with crème brulée and a minerally, near-salty finish. Now, that’s a mouth (palate) full.


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