We saw the future of Texas wine during one of the championship flights at the 30th annual competition this week, where there wasn ?t a chardonnay in sight. The five wines competing for best white from Texas were all outstanding, and each was worthy of winning — two Rhone blends, a viognier, a roussanne, and an albarino.
Can I write, finally and after 20 years, that Texas producers and growers have figured this thing out? More, after the jump:
In fact, the quality of the Texas wines in the competition was the best since I started judging Lone Star almost a decade ago. They were even better than the wines entered from elsewhere in the world, which hasn ?t always been the case. That has been especially depressing some years, since most of those are California grocery store-style wines.
But not this year. This year, the Texas wines made with grapes best suited for the Texas climate and soil, our dreaded terroir, were the stars. It ?s too hot and too dry and too Texas here to make great wine with grapes like cabernet sauvignon, merlot, chardonnay, and pinot noir, something Texas winemakers have struggled with for more than two decades.
This year, though, only two Bordeaux grapes were on the gold medal list, and one of them was cabernet blended with sangiovese from Los Pinos in East Texas, a nifty wine called Texican that earned best Texas red. I was practically insufferable during the final round of judging. Or, as retailer Chris Keel of Fort Worth put it with more tact: ?We tasted some pretty good wines, didn ?t we
The complete results aren ?t official yet, but among the highlights:
? Four wineries earned gold medals with tempranillo, the Spanish red grape that has found a home here. Pedernales Cellars 2011 reserve tempranillo got a double gold.
? Pedernales, perhaps the best new winery in the state, also got gold for its 2011 GSM, a blend of grenache, syrah, and mourvedre. This was my favorite red in the competition, earthy and spicy.
? The best Texas white was Brennan ?s White Lily, a roussanne, viognier, and grenache blend (a great value at $17.50). It beat the McPherson reserve roussanne for that honor, which says something since the McPherson is always one of the best white wines in the state.
? Haak ?s Jacquez Maderia, which won best Texas dessert wine, was a revelation ? nutty, salty and balanced. How the winery does with the black Spanish grape in coastal Texas is beyond me.