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WINE REVIEW: 2016 Bending Branch, ‘Newsom Vineyards’ Cabernet Sauvignon, Texas High Plains ($42 est)

by Andrew Chalk

What happens when a top Texas winery makes a wine from Texas’ most famous vineyard with grapes that we can’t grow here?

It is great to see the increased attention being (belatedly) cast on Texas wine. However, if you read that the reason for the improved quality is the use of Mediterranean grapes it’s a warning that the research for the article likely consisted entirely of a Google search of a page of secondary sources. The assertion doesn’t hold water when Texas wines made from temperate climate grapes are also hauling in medals from competitions all over the country. A case in point is the Bending Branch ‘Newsom Vineyards’ Cabernet Sauvignon. The 2015 boasts some pretty impressive awards:

Best of Class – 2019 Texas International Wine Competition

Gold – 2019 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition

Silver – 2019 San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo Wine Competition

Silver – 2018 Lone Star International 89 points

2018 James Suckling American Wine Revolution Top 50 Wines for Fall

As this list shows, accolades came not just from in-state awards. In the San Francisco Chronicle wine competition, for example, one of the toughest competitions in the country, most of the competition came from the nation’s largest wine-growing state, and world-class competitor, California.

I have just tasted the successor, the 2016 Bending Branch, ‘Newsom Vineyards’ Cabernet Sauvignon, Texas High Plains (estimated price, $42) and, without having read a single review, I predict the same kind of plaudits. This intense, brooding, ruby colored wine with its purple-tinged meniscus has a nose of blackberries and tomato leaf sitting on secondary aromas of wood from long (what I take to be) American Oak ageing. On the palate, there is abundant and intense fruit that lines the mouth and reveals a cloak of grippy tannins. All this leads through to a long and harmonious finish.

I dare say this wine will keep for a decade, but it is accessible enough now to be enjoyable and best paired with steak or Texas brisket. If you pick other Cabernet Sauvignons to compare it with you will find its character closest to Napa fruit from Oakville’s benchland (e.g. To-Kalon Vineyard).

Order direct from the winery.




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