TEXAS FINE WINE GOES ON A TOUR
by Andrew Chalk
Texas Fine Wine is a group of four like-minded Texas wineries that co-market their wines. The wineries: Bending Branch Winery (Comfort), Duchman Family Winery (Driftwood), Pedernales Cellars (Stonewall), and Spicewood Vineyards (Spicewood) arel based in the Texas Hill Country but came on a road tour to Dallas Fort Worth last week to showcase their wines to the trade and media.
I was fortunate to attend the media tasting. It took the format of head-to-head blind tastings of one of the producers’ wines against a European wine similar in grape composition, age, and price. The objective was to show experienced wine professionals that Texas wines deserve a seat at the table when selecting wines for a tasting.
The pairings were:
Pedernales Cellars 2018 Graciano, Texas High Plains ($40)
Burgo Viejo 2017 Graciano, Rioja, Spain ($54)
Spicewood Vineyards 2019 Tempranillo Dutton Vineyards, Texas High Plains ($38)
Bodegas Roda, 2017 Reserva, Rioja, Spain ($54)
Bending Branch Winery, 2018 Tannat, Newsom Vineyards, Texas High Plains ($50)
Château Montus, 2014 Madiran, France ($40)
Duchman Family Vineyards, 2016 Aglianico, Oswald Vineyard, Texas High Plains ($40)
Nativ Rue 333 2015 Taurasi DOCG, Italy ($40)
The quality of the Texas wines was such that the assembled media had difficulty determining which was which out of each pairing. Tasting against such strongly styled wines as Rioja tempranillo, Madiran tannat, and Campania Aglianico also showed something else. Even if good, the Texas wines were in jeopardy of being ‘good but atypical of their European forebears’. This did not happen. Experienced tasters sniffed and swirled for many moments looking for aberrant markers, but did not find them.
The bottom line, on the basis of this tasting, is that Texas deserves a place at the table when choosing examples of any of these wines to serve. In the immediate term, with Texas’ restaurant scene reopening after the pandemic I recommend Texas sommeliers investigate Texas examples of the styles they seek and compare them point-for-point and dollar-for-dollar with their global alternatives. Two sales points that were made to me:
One way that some established sommeliers in Dallas are turning curiosity into repeat sales is by putting a Texas wine in their by-the-glass selection;
Some of these Texas wineries will come in and train your staff to hand sell them. Follow through on that with selections that meet your other criteria. If your establishment is in Austin or San Antonio then beverage managers should consider a minivan day trip for their wine service staff to the winery to meet the winemaker and get training;