#Foodie Friday: Texas Wines V. Worldly Counterparts

by Jessica Newman on April 22, 2016 in Food+Drink, Houston,
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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.


This vintage is the first of its kind from the winery. Photo by Jessica Newman
This vintage is the first of its kind from the winery. Photo by Jessica Newman

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.

Beautifully aged for 12 months, this wine was fantastic. Photo by Jessica Newman
Beautifully aged for 12 months, this wine was fantastic. Photo by Jessica Newman

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.