Texas wine — 10 years after (part II)

This is the second of two parts looking at where Texas wine has been, where it is, and where it ?s going. Part I, which discussed the most important changes in Texas wine over the past decade, ran April 12. Today, some of the best wines I tasted during my trip to Fredricksburg.

Much has changed in the Hill Country wine business over the past decade that little has to do with the quality of the wine. The tasting rooms are more modern, more California in style and quite sophisticated; gone is the old ?Mom and Pop, welcome to our dining room and have some wine ? feel that was so common then.

Also new: tasting fees, which were unheard of a decade ago. Because, frankly, no one would have paid them. Consumers are also willing to pay top dollar for Texas wine. Few of the wines in the eight wineries I visited cost less than $20, but given the crowds, no one seemed to mind.

What I liked, after the jump:

First, this caveat: I spent 3 1/2 days in Fredericksburg on a media trip sponsored by the Fredericksburg Convention and Visitors Bureau, which paid for food and lodging (though I paid for some of the Texas wine I tasted). However, there was no quid pro quo ? no favorable story in exchange for the trip.

One of the best things about my visit was that I tasted wine with travel writers, whose perspective was completely different from mine. It was refreshing to be with people who judged wine on whether they liked it or not, and not by the approximately 4,173 wine geek criteria that even I use to make a decision. I ?m quite grateful to them for reminding me that wine is, first and foremost, fun.

The wines that most impressed me:

? Brennan Vineyards Viognier 2011 ($18, sample, 14.5%): Brennan has been one of the state ?s best viogner producers for as long as Texas has been making viognier, and this wine shows why. It ?s classic Texas viognier ? fresh, friendly, and fruity, with a long, pithy finish.

? Becker Vineyards Chenin Blanc 2011 ($15, sample). Becker is one of the two or three Texas wineries that most people know, and its tasting room is almost always packed. Look past the more popular wines on its list for this, a nifty white (in limited availability, unfortunately) that tastes of fresh pears with balanced acidity. Would, as I always lament, that Texas made more chenin blanc.

? Grape Creek Bellissimo 2011 ($35, sample, 13.6%): This red blend made with sangiovese was rounded and complex, and with just the right amount of cherry fruit. It shows what sangiovese can do in Texas, and especially in a red blend.

? Pedernales Cellars Dry Rose 2011 ($15, sample, 13.6%): Pedernales, one of the Hill Country ?s newest wineries, has made a great impression with its tempranillo, albarino, and grenache, syrah and mourvedre blend. They were all terrific, but regular visitors know how I feel about rose, and this was one of the best I ?ve had in years ? dry as a bone with cranberry and strawberry fruit.

? Woodrose Winery Three Dog White 2011 ($20, sample): This simple white blend was much more than it should have been ? fresh and clean with bright white fruit flavors. It ?s a bit pricey, but professionally made and eager to please.

? William Chris Vineyards Blanc du Bois 2012 ($28, sample): Who knew I would like a $28 blanc du bois? But in a state where there are some of the best blanc du bois in the world, including those from Haak, this stands out. Dry, citrusy and with a limestoney finish.

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