Wine Talk

Snooth User: EMark

Anyone for a Texas Gran Reserva?

Posted by EMark, Mar 27, 2013.

I know there have been conversations here on the Forum about wines made in the U.S. state of Texas.  I participated in one of them.  Generally, it has been difficult to find anybody from outside the state who is really excited about Texas wines.  Personally, my very limited experience has not been great.

However, today I stumbled onto this article from the Ft. Worth Star-Telegram posted on the SFGate site -- "Tempranillo hits pay dirt in Texas."

It seems that, lately, matching the geography to the grape variety is a key component it the successful production and marketing of wine.  Locally, here in California, the Paso Robles region is having great success with Rhone varieties, but on the flip side the Temecula producers are still struggling to find the right variety that marries well with their geography.

According to this article, Texas producers have been very pleased and successful with Texas-grown Tempranillo.  The feeling seems to be that Tempranillo will completely dominate future Texas vineyards to the point that other varieties will be relegated to minor representation. 

As a wine buff who feels there is never enough available red wine, I find this to be very exciting.  However, I suspect that it will be quite some time before I ever see a Texas wine in one of my local haunts.  So, I know there are some Texas Snoothers out there.  Can you contribute any addition insight--especially, personal experience--about this development?



Reply by JonDerry, Mar 27, 2013.

Cool story Mark, but with all the shipping laws in Texas I might have to wait until my next visit.

Reply by jackwerickson, Mar 28, 2013.

Would suspect it is from the west Texas area have tried several tx wines nothing to brag about it just not compare to other believe that tx is now the 4-5 largest producer of wine only cali, Oregon ,wash and possible new York are larger. yes we do have major problems with shipping from other states for example WTSO ,WINE LIBRARY will not ship to Texas. There are some of of the winery's will ship direct. Even the total wine that has a store in Dallas and Ft Worth cannot ship wine that  some of their other stores carry cannot transfer to Texas because it is not on the approved list so it creates a problem to order some wines I have tried especially Italian wines my favorite

Reply by GregT, Mar 28, 2013.

I'm all for different regions and new wines, but I don't know why they chose Tempranillo. Valladolid is about 41 degrees N. latitude, whereas Fredricksburg TX, where some of those wineries are, is around 30 degrees, which is a huge difference. I suppose if there were some pretty high mountains, that would help. But Tempranillo comes from north Spain for the most part, and they're doing a decent job in Washington. I think Oregon, Washington and even BC would be the places to grow it, rather than Texas, which should be looking at Monastrell and Nero d'Avola and Aglianico and maybe some Greek varieties.

Years ago they used to make a lot of wine in Texas, in relative terms anyway, but today people know so much more about climate and grape varieties, etc., seems like they'd look for grapes that come from warmer climates than Tempranillo.

But who knows. I can't say I've had any Texas wine. Had wine from Arizona and Mexico that wasn't all that bad. I think the main issue with Texas and Arizona and those southwest states was Pierce's disease, but that might be dated info. Would like to try a few wines tho.

Reply by Richard Foxall, Mar 30, 2013.

I wouldn't put all my reliance on laitude--I'd look at degree days, rainfall especially at budbreak and harvesting, length of growing season, etcetera.  I don't know about BC, but there's Tempranillo in Washington--I'll be doing a guest spot on Lucha's blog during the Vuelta probably with a three-way steel cage death match between Spain and some New World entrants. 

I do suspect that there's also an attempt to cash in on the name recognition that Tempranillo is gaining.  The US market still thinks in terms of varietal wines, so just making some great blend isn't good enough.  On the other hand, market segmentation for Cab is pretty much complete:  Napa for the upper end, Chile for the lower, and there's some from everywhere, so why try to break into the crowded market?  PInot Noir in TX is out of the question, and the Merlot market is still not back from the Sideways hit.  So what's left?  Exotic Tempranillo from sultry Spain!  Humid Houston isn't the same,but both are hot, right? 

GregT is probably right that Sicilian varieties would be better, but Nero d"Avola still lacks name recognition and no one who buys it is willing to pay very much.  No one knows from Monastrell or Aglianico outside these kinds of websites.  Assyrtiko would be an interesting thing to try, but isn't that white wine?  (I guess the wine is for the lady-folk--the guys are drinking Pearl and Shiner Bock, right?)

I've had the Gruet sparklers and they are okay, but I think it's the novelty that they come from New Mexico that makes them popular.  And I've lauded the Cetto Nebbiolo here as well.  I've been hearing about Arizona, too, but haven't tried it.  But all those places have mountains, which changes the environment dramatically.  Good luck, Texas, but I'm a little skeptical.  Truth will be in the (blind) tasting. But if I were them, I'd grow Bordeaux varietals because everyone seems to do well against Bordeaux in blind tasting. 

Reply by edwilley3, Apr 1, 2013.

Although it's clearly being done in some cases, I believe that it would be exceedingly difficult to grow most wine grapes in Texas due to the intense heat and long days. It seems that we are perennially in - or near - a drought. Our typical high temperature in July and August is in the mid to high 90s - with many days above 100 - and the low temperature (the next morning) will be around 76. Yes, the LOW is in the 70s. The only time it will get below 70 during the core of the summer is during a big rain storm, which often is accompanied by lightning and tornadoes and hail. Lovely stuff, Texas summers.

Anyway, I know that people can grow grapes here, but the weather in most of the state is so extreme that it makes Spain seem relatively cool in comparison. For instance, we are already looking at highs in the upper 70s this week. It's the beginning of April.

Reply by Richard Foxall, Apr 1, 2013.

Nice to hear from you again, Ed!  If you make it out this way, let's go drink some of our favorite Bell cabs.  Your points about nighttime lows in the high 70s was not lost on this one-time Kansan. I spent a summer there and the days were in the 100s for a month solid, with 90% humidity, nights cooled down only a bit to the 70s or  80s, and the tornadoes drove us into storm cellars more than once.  South Central Kansas is not much more than a panhandle from N. Texas, so the weather in that hot, humid plain is not a whole lot different.  Texas Hill Country might be a little better, but not enough for most grapes. 

Reply by edwilley3, Apr 1, 2013.

Glad to be back, FOXALL.

Believe it or not, I did have a Texas red whose producer I have now forgotten that I thought was legitimately, no holds barred, good. Ok, it wasn't a grand CdP, Hermitage, or Napa cab. Still, it was a pretty good wine that I'd pay about $25 (or maybe $30) to acquire. (I will have to ask my friend what it was and then post it. And it was not just me - a big group of us agreed.)

BTW, I agree with the suspicion that Gruet must be more about niche marketing. I have some friends who like it a lot, but honestly they are not vintage Champagne drinkers (talk about a niche!) and are always trying to get me to drink stuff from Paso Robles, e.g. the basic Tobin James. I'm not saying it's "bad" wine - it's just not great on my palate. By contrast, I'm out here trying to convince folks to drink the excellent and affordable bubbly from Laetitia, whose basic pinot is growing in popularity in Dallas. FWIW, I drank a Ridge Monte Bello chardonnay for Easter and thought to myself, "I am really neglecting the French whites I used to drink." There again, winter is finally over and I'm beginning to think about setting aside my scotch bottles for some tasty grape juice!!!

Anyway, I will check on the name of that good Texas wine I had and post for Snoothers. I JUST NOW received an email from Bell with a 40% offer and a flat rate shipping option. Need to check out the selections.

Reply by Richard Foxall, Apr 1, 2013.

Talk about on the same wavelength, I just discovered that Laetitia sparkler for myself.  After years of dismay over the lack of good quality, affordable domestic bubbles, I'm liking that one, Scharffenberger (reborn by Roederer), and of course the basic Roederer bottling.  I'm also finding good things in the mid-range as well, with vintage bottlings of Roederer and some Schramsberg that has held the line on price as others caught up. 

I received that Bell email, too, and need to have a look.  But other things beckon, too. 

Let us know the name of that TX wine, if only for curiosity's sake.

Reply by penguinoid, Apr 1, 2013.

I've not visited Texas, but from the temperatures above I'm sure it can't be that much hotter than warmer grape-growing regions in Australia, eg the Riverland region of South Australia.

True, the Riverland is mainly known for bulk quantities of commercial-quality wine, but I have tasted some very good wines from there. You just need to grow varieties that can cope with hot, dry weather. E.g., Vermentino, Touriga Nacional, Durif, Grenache, Nero d'Avolo.

Then you have the problem of marketing. It is a pity that consumers are resistant to trying wines they've not heard of! I'd hope if you were making good, distinctive wines you'd be able to find customers. But that's probably me being quite naïve....

Reply by pikeman, Apr 8, 2013.

I live in Texas and have tried to find good Texas wine that is priced right and it's pretty difficult. The small number of drinkable wines are pricey when compared to the imports. And there is still wine that I consider unfit to drink that is being sold. I've compared it with paint remover, but that's not fair since I've never drunk paint remover. But I'm pretty sure it would have stripped paint anyhow!

Never buy _anything_ that touts itself as Grand Prize Winner from a rodeo or stock exhibition.



Reply by EMark, Apr 8, 2013.

Pete, thanks for your on the scene post.  I have to say that I chuckled a couple times while reading it.  You sound pretty reliable.  So, I trust that if you do test one of these Texas Tempranillos you will come back here with a reliable report.

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