Wine review: McPherson Cellars Roussanne 2010

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.

4 thoughts on “Wine review: McPherson Cellars Roussanne 2010

  • By Bobby Cox -

    THIS is the “catch 22” ! High Plains winegrowers are planting Roussanne as fast as we can get roots BUT the wine is currently rare as we ramp up production of this wonderful vine. Many wineries are scared they will not be able to sell the wine because it does not fit the CA template. Congratulations to Kim for taking a chance on a vine that is at home here. And yes the wine is lip smacking GREAT !

  • By James Freeman -

    I was out in Lubbock a few months back and stopped by Mcphersons. Last time I was in Lubbock his new facility was not open to the public. I tried the new Rousanne and the Viognier and liked them both but did not see anything “special” about the rousanne in the tasting room.
    I bought a bottle of the Rousanne anyway and took it home, a few days later I opened it up and poured it into one of my tasting glasses that is much longer and more open than the glasses in Mcphersons tasting room. There was allot of complexity to the wine that I missed with the tasting room glasses I was quite impressed and wished I would have bought more.
    The only thing that has bothered me about his new Roussanne, Viognier and 2010 Tre’ Color is that there is a .07-.09% residual sugar in these wines. Which to most is not a big deal, but for me I was noticing it in the tasting room as my glass was quite sticky. The California Viognier and Rousanne wines Ive had have never been that sweet. Jeff, Is this what you are meaning by “Texas Style?” Also too the Rousanne’s that I have tasted have had battonage.
    On a side note, at the Lone Star Int Wine Comp. I think the judges just didnt like Viognier because none got higher than a silver, yet Mcphersons received a gold at the LA Times competition. How can one not like viognier?
    None the less all three of those are great wines. Looking forward to trying the new Tempranillo blend!

  • By VintageTexas -

    One Texas appellation gold medal at Lone Star Wine Competition this year for Viognier….Pilot Knob Vineyards. Texas High Plains fruit.

  • By Jeff Siegel -

    James, I don’t think anyone would call these McPherson wines sweet, and those sugar levels aren’t any higher than most California wines. When I talk about style, it’s not about sugar level or sweetness, but about what the overall makeup of the wine. It’s about balance and all that involves.

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