Wine Talk

Snooth User: achalk

Is Roussanne The Next Breakthrough Texas Grape?

Posted by achalk, Sep 11, 2013.

Roussanne in Texas...


Reply by Richard Foxall, Sep 11, 2013.

The Next Breakthrough Texas Grape?  What was the first one?  I missed that press release.

Seriously, these events are great at putting wine regions on the map for the locals, but it is kind of amazing that the local grapes always do so well on their home turf.  Remember, the Paris Tasting was in Paris with respected critics, including the top French critics of the time.  Hard to take this very seriously, and the fact that 10 out of 17 of the wines were from Texas means that the chances that any other regions were rated highly would be nil.  And the Gusto website doesn't make it very easy to tell what the procedures were. On the other hand, given that a lot of the world's Roussanne is not exciting enough to increase plantings greatly, this might be a niche Texas can get into.  On the whole, I would think Tempranillo, maybe Grenache, Cinsault might do well in Texas. 

Reply by EMark, Sep 11, 2013.

I'm going from memory here, but I seem to recall an article, or maybe it was a posting here, touting Tempranillo as the particularly Texas-friendly grape variety.

As Fox says, in order to get better recognition, Texas wines have to be made available outside its borders.  I can't say that I have ever seen a Texas wine on a store shelf here in Southern California.  About twenty-five years ago I went tasting with some friends at a couple wineries near College Station.  I have to say that was pretty disastrous.  However, if I was to see a Texas Tempranillo or, now, a Roussanne on a store shelf, I'd be tempted to try it.

Reply by achalk, Sep 11, 2013.

Richard: There are at least two earlier "breakthrough" varieties, Viognier and Tempranillo.

Your comment about an (unexplained) local bias suggests that it would be interesting to repeat these tastings outside Texas. Maybe in California.

The wines that did consistently well are available.

- A



Reply by achalk, Sep 11, 2013.

Mark: The variance is huge. The worst are bad. The best are better than they are given credit for outside Texas. The delta is definitely positive. 

The two links in my earlier reply refer to tastings that I organized, held under very strict conditions. And, before anybody grabs the wrong end of any corks, I did so for informational and educational purposes as a writer. I have no commercial interest in any particular wines and nobody on Snooth will have been as vehement as me about bad TX wine. 

You won't find them on shelves outside TX. Order them direct or through Amazon, et. al.


- A




Reply by Richard Foxall, Sep 11, 2013.

Achalk:  Until Snooth changed my handle (so I could get a byline), it was Foxall and everyone just called me Fox.  Just so you are up on the nomenclature. Hardly anyone besides my wife and my parents uses my first name, so it sounds odd on here. I hope we have many exchanges, and that will save you typing a few letters on the keyboard.

I did look at the rules on Gusto, and they did have generally robust procedures, but what I couldn't find was the wines against which these were tasted generally.  I was just a little suspicious that the Roussanne from Truchard was the top California example.  Most of the Roussanne is grown south of here in the Central Coast area, where conditions are more suited to it.  I also don't see any Australians in the top five, which surprises me.  Frankly, with only seven of the wines not from Texas, hard to see how more than one or two from a few regions got in, while the Central Coast alone should have 2-3 representatives, as should Washington, and Australia.  The Northern and Southern Rhone each ought to have a couple representatives, and then there's Savoy and even a couple DOCs in Italy that use it.  Of course, many of those wines aren't all Roussanne.  Maybe TX v. Central Coast or Rhone alone would be more convincing to me.  In any case, I am sure the tasters had a blast and the wines certainly were good, surprisingly to many, I bet.

Emark has it right that the wines need to be available so we can taste them for the wine to "breakthrough" the local borders.  Bring those tastings to California or, for that matter, Avignon or Sydney!

Reply by achalk, Sep 12, 2013.

Fox; Lots of valid criticisms of the experimental design. I agree that it would be useful to recast the tastings in California.

- A

Reply by zufrieden, Sep 13, 2013.

Ignoring the tasting arrangements for the moment (though these are very important in most circumstances), I would say that Roussanne is one of those grape varieties that, while perhaps native to southern France, seems to do well in desert-like conditions that have significantly shorter summers than (mostly) subtropical Texas.

Roussanne is one of my personal favourites in terms of subtle, herbal-like white varieties, and it is a very superior grape, but I am rather fussy about the results.  The dreamy tisane-like flavour profile of wines made primarily with this grape (often blended made with the much less subtle Marsanne) does not seem well-suited to those roasted, "staked plains" environments reminiscent of Adobe Walls.

However, depending on site, Roussanne is a worthy experiment in the Lone Star State.  Keep expectations low and look rather to Marsanne (as in New South Wales Hunter Valley) and even high-test Shiraz (or Syrah... whatever your fancy).  The Spanish varieties are also worthy - as already mentioned.

Texas is made for highly alcoholic reds; whites would need some thought.  Assyrtiko, anyone?

Reply by penguinoid, Sep 17, 2013.

Zufrieden - interesting you single out the Hunter Valley for Marsanne. I know they do grow a bit there, but there are other regions within Australia which are better known for it. The Hunter Valley, whilst warm, tends to be quite humid. The best known is probably Tahbilk's, which is from Central Victoria. There are also good examples from South Australia. The same is true for Roussane. I think Tahbilk also makes a pretty good Roussanne too.

Reply by edwilley3, Sep 17, 2013.

I'm from and live in Texas. I will leave the Texas wines to y'all except for a precious few. I will gladly pay to import yer fancy little California wines into the great nation of Texas.

Reply by achalk, Sep 17, 2013.

EdWilley3: Try the ones that came out ahead of California first.

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