Battle of the Texas Roussannes

Following last year’s Battle of the Texas wine Orange Muscats, we decided with the help of some friends to do another blind tasting, the Battle of the Texas Roussannes. Summer heat called for a chilled wine and the decision was to focus on Roussannes from Texas fruit.

Roussanne blind tasting - Set 1

Coincidentally the month before we made this decision, the Texas Wine and Food Consortium’s Texas vs. The World Monthly Tasting consisted of Roussanne. I contacted Daniel Kelada, Vice President of The Texas Wine and Food Consortium, to see if there were any extra Roussannes left over from the tasting. Fortunately there were and Daniel gladly donated some to our blind tasting and was also able to attend. With the help of wine friends and finding wines at local stores, we were able to obtain more Roussannes and eventually ended up with a total of 17 Texas Roussannes.

Unfortunately some of the wines may be difficult, if not impossible to find and purchase. We had a couple wineries even ask if we had any more of theirs because they had run out of inventory. We could have restricted the list of wines to just those we know are available but felt it would be better to showcase all the wines as it most likely would be a good representation of future Roussannes from that winery.

A guest list for judging the Roussannes was created and eventually blossomed to 20 people, a definite increase from the 8 people who were at our first blind tasting. Due to the number of people, we knew we could not hold the blind tasting at our dining room table and the NICE Winery owners, Ian Eastveld and Ryan Levy, graciously offered their winery’s tasting room to hold the event.

Unlike our previous blind tasting where we had one experienced judge and the rest being wine lovers, the group to judge the Roussannes surpassed the experience of the first group. Out of the people attending this blind tasting, there were wine growers, winemakers, winery owners, experienced judges, wine educators, sommeliers, wine bloggers, and wine lovers. This gave a great perspective from a mix of wine drinkers instead of just using a focused group, for example sommeliers.

Roussanne blind tasting - Set 2

The Wines

The wines included in the blind tasting were:

  • Arché, Texas (Saint Jo), 2010 Vintner’s Reserve Roussanne
  • Arché, 2012 Roussanne (tank sample-free fun)
  • Arché, 2012 Vintner’s Reserve Roussanne (bottled 6/15/13, barrel fermented)
  • Becker Vineyards, 2009 Reserve Roussanne
  • Blue Ostrich Winery, Texas, 2011 Roussanne
  • Brennan Vineyards, Texas, 2011 Roussanne Lily blend
  • Brennan Vineyards, Texas, 2012 Roussanne Lily blend
  • Brushy Creek Vineyards, Texas High Plains, 2010 Roussanne
  • Calais Winery, Texas High Plains, 2011 La Cuvee Principale Roussanne
  • Cap*Rock Winery, Texas High Plains, 2010 Roussanne
  • Cap*Rock Winery, Texas High Plains, NV Roussanne
  • McPherson Cellars, Texas, 2011 Roussanne
  • McPherson Cellars, Texas, 2012 Roussanne
  • McPherson Cellars, Texas, 2012 Reserve Roussanne
  • Spicewood Vineyards, Texas High Plains, 2010 Roussanne
  • Spicewood Vineyards, Texas High Plains, 2012 Roussanne
  • Wedding Oak Winery, Texas Hill Country, 2012 Terre Blanc blend

NOTE: If you are a winery owner and we did not include your wine, it was either an oversight as we did not know about it, it was not 100% Texas, or we were unable to get a bottle. For future blind tasting events we will notify wineries what we will be doing in advance and the winery can participate if desired.

Roussanne blind tasting - Set 3 Roussanne blind tasting - Set 4

The Tasting

At our first blind tasting we decided on two questions on whether the person liked the wine and a scale if they would recommend the wine to a friend. There were comments from our first tasting where a person did not like the wine but they would recommend it to a friend. Luckily it did not throw off the ratings but it possibly could.

The Texas vs. The World Monthly Tasting scoring system uses a grade (A, B, or C) and a value (+, –, or 0). The taster can then use a legend to determine a score on a 100 point scale. It was decided to just use the scoring system from the Texas vs. The World Monthly Tasting to make things easier. The lowest score a wine could receive was 70. It was also decided we would only give the top five ranked wines from the wines tasted, instead of the entire list ranked.

Due to the amount of people judging and having one bottle per Roussanne, we purchased Posi-Pours to pour only 1 ounce per tasting. Even though this was not a lot to taste, at the end of the evening, each judge would taste a total of 17 ounces.

Gloria and I took care of the bagging of the wines. All foil capsules were removed if present. With only myself in the room I put the wine in brown bags and taped the neck to the top of the bottles. This also covered any possible screw caps. Gloria then labeled the bottles from 1 to 17 without me looking so both of us could participate in the blind taste test. In the end she decided to not score so there were only 19 people scoring.

We decided due to the amount of wines and people, we would serve 2 wines per flight. Crackers, cheeses, and water were available to cleanse palates during the tasting.

Roussanne blind tasting - Judging group 1

All the tasters/judges arrived and we sat down to begin the blind tasting. Everybody was instructed how the scoring would occur. Besides the tasting score, an area was given to write down any tasting notes which we encouraged people to provide. It was suggested that discussion of the wines during tasting not be done to discourage possible influencing of other people’s scores.

Gloria and I poured the first two wines and Ryan Levy suggested we give a five minute time limit per flight for people to taste and judge, and then he ran the timer. Ryan also ended up being very helpful in pouring the rest of the wines. Things ran more smoothly with a more experienced person handling the pouring.

Roussanne blind tasting - Judging group 2

After tasting and judging all the wines it was time for the unveiling of the 17 wines. We removed the bag from each bottle after people offered their scores. There was often a sense of surprise among the tasters when wines were unveiled. Everybody could tell during the tasting that one wine was definitely oxidized or corked, and unfortunately we could not give a fair representation to the quality of that wine. It was the Cap*Rock Winery 2010 Roussanne and I will be returning the bottle to the store where I bought it.

It was then time to average the scores and see what the group’s top favorite wines were. I had prepared a spreadsheet earlier which would be the quickest way to average the scores. I took each person’s tasting sheet with scores and headed to the back room of the winery to enter the numbers into the spreadsheet while the rest of the judges mingled and enjoyed the NICE Winery’s Malbec.

Roussanne blind tasting - Revealed wines

The Results

With the scores tabulated and ranked, I then presented them to the group. These are the top five wines which were ranked by the group of 19 judges:

  1. (88.21) McPherson Cellars, Texas, 2012 Reserve Roussanne
  2. (87.53) McPherson Cellars, Texas, 2011 Roussanne
  3. (86.95) McPherson Cellars, Texas, 2012 Roussanne
  4. (85.95) Brennan Vineyards, Texas, 2011 Roussanne Lily blend
  5. (85.74) Brennan Vineyards, Texas, 2012 Roussanne Lily blend

It was a shock to everyone that the first three wines were all McPherson Cellars wines and the next two were the Brennan Vineyards Lily blends, especially with 17 wines and 19 judges.

These are some tasting notes of the top wines:

McPherson Cellars, Texas, 2012 Reserve Roussanne

13.9% alcohol, 416 cases produced. Bright yellow color. Peach, nectarine, vanilla, buttery, almond, apricot, grapefruit, angel food cake feel on palate, pineapple, pear, mandarin, honey blossoms. Medium plus alcohol, medium plus acid, short finish, soft on palate yet crisp. Awesome flavor.

McPherson Cellars, Texas, 2011 Roussanne

13.9% alcohol, 420 cases produced. Light yellow color. Hint of sweet pineapple, stone fruit, light mineral, apricots, tart, pear, apple, grapefruit, tangerine, citrus, tart apple, peach, apricot, light honey, cilantro, dried herbs, orange peel, herbs like thyme. Medium plus acid, medium alcohol, hits all sides of palate, long finish. Hot weather companion.

McPherson Cellars, Texas, 2012 Roussanne

13.8% alcohol, 672 cases produced. Yellow color. Caramel, honey, peach, apricots, lime, apple, sweet lemon drop, dried fruit, butterscotch, subtle pear and apple, pineapple, tart pears, vanilla, butter croissant, molasses, tart lemon, white flowers daisies and gardenias. Medium acid, medium plus alcohol, long finish, palate crisp. Inviting.

Brennan Vineyards, Texas, 2011 Roussanne Lily blend

13.2% alcohol, 53% Roussanne, 25% Viognier, 22% Grenache. The Roussanne and Grenache are from Reddy Vineyards and the Viognier is from Bingham Family Vineyards. Light yellow color. Crisp, almost tart, lemon, little grapefruit, apricots, citrus, peach, mineral, citrus honey, light oak, butter, pear, fresh cut green grass, melon, unripe fig, lavender, white apricot, honeysuckle, canned peaches, white pepper, potpourri, flint/stone, eucalyptus. Short finish, medium plus alcohol, low acid, nice balance. Low residual sugar.

Brennan Vineyards, Texas, 2012 Roussanne Lily blend

13.8% alcohol, 59% Roussanne, 23% Viognier & 18% Grenache. The Roussanne and Grenache are from Reddy Vineyards and the Viognier is from Bingham Family Vineyards. Light yellow color. Citrus lime, tart lemon, pineapple, apple, herbal, lots of fruit, pear, eucalyptus, apricot, lemon meringue, candied ginger, fleshy peach, limestone, nectarines. Good acids, medium alcohol, nice palate, short finish. Not classic Roussanne, probably a little addition to the Roussanne. Great patio pounder.

Overall the evening had been a fun and educational time with a good representation of Roussanne by Texas wineries.

The Judges

  • Jeff Cope and Gloria Schlanser – Texas Wine Lover
  • Delia Cuellar – Wine Lover
  • Bill and Gail Day – Bueno Suerte Vineyards, Wine Growers
  • Ian Eastveld – The NICE Winery, Winemaker, Certified Sommelier, Chef
  • Brock and Melissa Estes – Fly Gap Winery
  • Dave Foley – Sommelier
  • Gregory Fuller – Wine Lover
  • Carrie Hahs – Wine Lover
  • Russ Kane – Author of “The Wineslinger Chronicles”, Vintage Texas blog
  • Daniel Kelada – GUSTO Founder, Executive Wine Sommelier, Senior Wine Instructor, International Wine Guild Master Candidate, Vice President The Texas Wine and Food Consortium
  • Jerry and Gail Levy – Wine Lovers
  • Ryan Levy – The NICE Winery, Winemaker, Certified Sommelier, Certified Specialist of Wine
  • Dave and Kelli Potter – The Grapes Around Texas
  • Laurie and Shelly Ware – Wines At Road’s End



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  1. Gail Day says

    Really enjoyed the evening! Nice Winery is beautiful! Loved meeting new friends and sharing wines. I realized later in the evening that Kim McPherson not only produced the top 3 winners but also mentored winemaker Pat Brennan in Pat’s early years, so his influence was tasted all top 5 wines! Texas and Roussanne have a great future!

  2. says

    This was a wonderful end to my working vacation. I am glad to be part of the Texas wine industry as a Texas wine consumer, blogger and future Texas Grape Grower and winemaker. These events not only give me networking contacts but life long friendships. Thanks Jeff for setting this event up and I look forward to more just like it. I learned and continue to learn about wine in general but my own home state. God Bless Texas!

  3. juliakintx says

    Two comments: Eden Hill has a roussanne made of the same grapes as Calais. Caudalie Crest also has roussanne. Just an FYI.

    Also, as a consumer, I don’t know if it’s fair to put multiple vintages into the mix. I would rather have seen results of a comparison of wineries rather than having multiple entrants from the same winery.

    • says

      Thanks for the information on the additional Roussannes from Eden Hill and Caudalie Crest. And thanks for your opinion as to what wines should be included. I’m not quite sure how we could choose what wine from a winery to include though if multiple vintages were currently available for sale.

    • says

      Good question. I was also asked to do other comparisons between people. In the end, I decided it was more important as a group of tasters to get a overall view.

  4. Amy Sterling says

    Am wondering how a bottle qualifies in a varietal tasting if less than 75% of the contents is the varietal? What am I missing here?


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