Writing about Texas wines can be an April Fool’s errand, fraught with opportunity to offend by telling the truth or not praising enough.
On the one hand, Texas wine is doing quite well. On High Plains, Hill Country, around College Station, even vastness near Fort Stockton and elsewhere, Texas wineries produce good wine and great wine experiences. Because it is the most profitable agricultural use of your acre of dirt, Texans are planting vines.
Great-grandpa may have shaken his head in amazement and sorrow. He probably would not have approved of wind towers and high fences so Yankees could kill African wildlife either, but today’s Texas cowboy-farmer has to do what he has to do.
On the other hand, Texas wine makers are just beginning to discover which grapes work where (task of centuries in the Old World). Texas wines can be hard to find—best place to buy many is at their winery or website. Most Texas wine is sold in Texas, often priced at high end of worth.
By some measures, Texas is 10th largest wine producer in U.S., by other measures, slightly higher. Well and good, but let’s be real. California dominates with 89 percent. New York is second with 3.5 percent, Washington third with 3.25 percent. It is great that Texas is part of wine world, but—hard as it may be—Texans must bring a measure of humility to the tasting table.
Eschewing wisdom for courage, we taste Texas wines in April’s columns:
- Fall Creek Vineyards Merlot 2013: Medium-light body, cherry, plum, raspberry, mint hint, some oak; low tannin and acidity; smooth; elegant, supple for price; ideal entry-level red. $8
- Los Pinos Ranch Vineyards Texican Dry Red Wine 2012: Bold, tasty cab-sangiovese blend; Texan salute to Super Tuscans; ripe-fruit nose; fruit forward, blackberry, dark cherry, ripe plum, raspberry; smooth, restrained tannins, sufficient acidity; soft, full mouth; excellent effort. $23
- Becker Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve Canada Vineyards, Texas High Plains 2007: Lush, deliciously smooth; sweet cherry, chocolate, black currant; dense backbone, balancing acidity, excellent length; bottle-age-tamed tannin; seriously good serious Texas wine. $40
Last round: Four favorite food groups: red wine, cheese, white wine, chocolate.