To the general public, the non-sommeliers, or those who didn’t study viticulture, it may seem hard to believe that Texas wines could compete with the rest of the world. Sure, it’s Texas and we Texans have a whole lot of pride in everything Texas made, grown or sized. But wine?
I myself felt a tad skeptical to attend a wine tasting in which Texas wineries would so confidently compare and contrast their wines to world counterparts. How could they be so sure – and thus, I genuinely write – that the lone star state born wines could prevail winners? The verdict: Texas wines are competitive.
The Sip, orchestrated by Pen & Tell Us, recently brought Texas wines to the Camerata at Paulie’s in Houston for a blind tasting. In the mix were: Fall Creek Vineyards, Inwood Estates, Spicewood Vineyards, and Stone House Vineyard. Unbeknownst to them, guests sipped on flights of white, rosé, two rounds of red, and a port, sipping a total of 16 wines. Here are the contestants…
In the white flight, I could quickly tell that there were two pairs of comparable wines. Of the similar, I noted my favorite. The winners of whites both hailed from Texas.
Fall Creek Vineyards, Vintner’s Selection Chardonnay 2014, Texas Hill Country ($22)
Fall Creek poured the classic characteristics of a Chardonnay. This 100% Chardonnay wine is dry with 0.19% residual sugar and a refreshing, fruity taste. The wine is aged over lees, “sur-lie,” for nine months in stainless steel tanks.
Fall Creek Comparative: Chablis François Labet 2014, France ($25)
The old world wine has more minerality and acidity than Fall Creek’s. Overall, it has an earthy taste.
Inwood Estates, City of Dallas Chardonnay 2015, Dallas County Texas ($40)
Like the name implies, this wine is impressive for its 100% Chardonnay label, all of which were grown in Dallas County and some even within the city’s limits. Tastes of fruit and minerals.
Inwood Comparative: Chateau de Santenay Chassagne-Montrachet 2013, France ($59)
Inwood’s counterpart Chardonnay has a sweet aroma with more oak notes.
All three rosés were delicious and different enough not to be compared. Pour me another, please.
Spicewood Vineyards, 2014 Mourvèdre Rosé, Texas High Plains ($19)
The Mourvèdre is fermented and aged for 8 months in stainless steel. It has a white fruit aroma and flavor similar to champagne. The light color is due to Spicewood’s technique of bringing a press up the hills to press grapes immediately after harvest.
Fall Creek Vineyards, Vintner’s Selection Grenache Rosé 2015, Texas Hill Country ($22)
Fall Creek’s dark pink-hued, crisp citrus, 100% Grenache rosé is the winery’s first vintage of its kind, released in mid October of last year.
Fall Creek Comparative: Domaine De La Garenne Bandol Rosé 2013, France (25$)
Hailing from the South of France, this rosé is dry and fruity with a hint of earthy flavors.
The reds were great. Flavors were all across the board – pick your favorite to your liking. Stone House’s Norton stood out because it was the only Norton and had a completely different, if not unusual taste. My personal favorite was in the second flight: Inwood’s Cornelius Reserve.
Fall Creek Vineyards, 2013 Terroir Selection GSM Salt Lick Vineyard, Texas Hill Country ($46)
This wine exhibits strong vanilla and oak aromas thanks to aging in American and French oak barrels for 16 months. The blend is 40% Grenache, 16% Syrah, and 44% Mourvèdre.
Spicewood Vineyards, 2012 Estate Tempranillo, Texas Hill Country ($42)
Spicewood’s Tempranillo consists of 5% Cabernet Sauvignon. It’s aged for 12 months in 40% new French oak and 60% neutral. Prune aroma and blueberry flavor.
Spicewood Comparative: CVNE Cune Rioja Reserva 2009, Spain ($30)
The Cune Rioja has a lighter, oaky taste and a similar dark berry aroma to its Spicewood comparative.
Stone House Vineyards, Claros Norton Reserve 2013, Texas Hill Country ($30)
Made from Norton grapes, this wine is dark in color, has berry characteristics, and notes of spice. Interesting flavor. No comparative wine at the tasting.
Inwood Estates 2010 “Mericana,” 100% Cabernet, Texas High Plains ($69)
Inwood’s American style wine is jam-forward. It’s aged in 100% French oak for about 24 months.
Inwood Comparative: Heitz Cellar Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2011 ($49)
This California Cab has a caramel aroma, dark fruit flavors, and is aged in new French oak for three years.
Inwood Estates 2012 “Cornelious Reserve,” 100% Tempranillo, Texas High Plains ($40)
The Cornelious Reserve has high tannins and earthy, dark fruit flavors.
Inwood Comparative: Bodega Numanthia Toro 2011 ($55)
Similar to Inwood’s Tempranillo, Numanthia’s has an additional layer of minerality
Stone House Vineyards didn’t provide a comparative wine – excuse me – port – and frankly, they didn’t need to. The port is a winner all on its own. Scheming Beagle is one to enjoy after a course again and again.
Stone House Vineyards, Scheming Beagle Port NV, Texas Hill Country ($29)
Stone House’s estate grown port is made with 100% Norton grapes, is barrel aged, and blended with a 2003 vintage, presenting tawny characteristics such as dried fruit and spice flavors. California brandy is used to fortify. The port is intensely flavorful ringing in at 18% alcohol.