The on-going debate in the Texas wine business is about whether to make wine from grapes that consumers recognize, or to make wine from grapes that are suited to the Texas terroir. It's a debate that has pitted winemakers against winemakers, growers against winemakers, and critics against winemakers.
The first group argues that consumers won't buy wine from a Texas winery unless it says chardonnay, cabernet sauvignon, or merlot on the label — and that if they have to buy grapes from California to make those wines, so be it. Otherwise, there would be no Texas wine industry.
The second group, to which the Wine Curmudgeon belongs, disagrees. Our approach: What's the point of making Texas wine that tastes like California wine? Texas wine (or New York or Virginia or other regional wine, for that matter) should reflect the state's unique characteristics — the soil, the climate, and the like.
I'm going to write more about this next week, and specifically the labeling controversy in the regional wine business — how too many regional wineries try to convince consumers that wine made with California grapes came from their state. Today, though, it's enough to note that this roussanne ($14, sample) is a white wine that firmly, boldly and unequivocally makes the argument for terroir-driven wines. More, after the jump:
Full disclosure: John Bratcher, who works for winemaker Kim McPherson, is one of the Two Wine Guys. But I'm not the only one who thinks the wine is the way Texas should go. It was a best of class winner at both the Lone Star and Los Angeles international wine competitions, and has been acclaimed by critics, sommeliers and winemakers alike. It's crisp and refreshing, with lemon and lime flavors, and bears a distinctly Texas approach — lighter and less fruit forward than California wines, but not as traditional as European wines.
In this, roussanne is a grape from the Rhone in southern France that likes hot, dry weather. Which, of course, we have in abundance in Texas. Roussane is one of a variety of Rhone-style grapes that Texas winemakers have had great success with, including viognier, syrah, and grenache. In time, I'm convinced that Texas wineries can sell wines made with these grapes and wean consumers off their Winestream media-driven focus on chardonnay and its like.
The downside to all this? There isn't much of the McPherson roussanne, and what there is is only available in Texas — and then, mostly from the winery. But if you get the chance, it's highly recommended.