Hill Country breezes, ample sunshine, and intoxicating aromas of fresh lavender awaken the senses when you pull up to Becker Vineyards. The winery sits on a beautiful plot of land just a hop, skip, and a jump from Highway 290. As one of the oldest wineries on the 290 wine trail in the Texas Hill Country, Becker Vineyards has been producing a wide array of wines for some time.
Founded in 1992 by Dr. Richard Becker and his wife, Bunny Becker, the winery now produces over 100,000 cases of wine annually from grapes grown in their ~75 acres of vines along with grapes sourced from other vineyards in Texas and harvested from vineyards in other parts of the United States. An interesting fact is that Becker has only planted vitis vinifera grape varietals. No hybrids like Blanc du Bois or Black Spanish are growing in their vineyards. You are likely to find a large selection of wines from their portfolio in grocery stores and wine shops across the state. Distribution is a large part of their business model, which is unlike many of the other wineries in Texas where the wines are only available for purchase at the actual winery.
When choosing a wine to review from a Texas winery, I usually opt for something (usually a red) that truly represents the winery itself, a wine that highlights the style of the winemaker and shows a sense of place. With Becker, I chose the Reserve Merlot 2012 vintage. Merlot seems to be one of the few Bordeaux varietals that consistently does well in the extreme Texas climate. It is rare for me to find a Merlot that is flabby or poorly made which is promising for Texas wineries and winemakers alike.
With the Portuguese cork yanked from its nook, the bouquet already begins to come alive. To the eyes, striking colors of garnet with an orange hue overtake the glass. The aromatics once gently swirled are potent and prompt images of fresh vanilla, crispy toast, candied cherries, raspberries, and some fig. There are also prominent notes of saddle leather and cigar box. The oak is very prominent, more so on the nose than as perceived on the palate. The palate confirms the nose with the addition of plums and even more of that pleasant wooden box.
Below are the specifications for the Becker Vineyards Reserve Merlot, 2012 vintage:
- Appellation: Texas
- Barrels: A combination of the best French and American oak were utilized for this wine
- Clarity/Brightness: Clear/bright with no detectable flaws and no gas or sediment
- Tannins: Medium
- Acidity: Medium Plus
- Alcohol: Medium
- Finish: Long
- Alcohol: 14.6%
- Harvest Date: August 20 – September 9, 2012
- Harvest Brix: 24.5 – 26.0
- Bronze – 2013 San Francisco International Wine Competition
This is a well-made wine that will please the novices and aficionados alike. It is easy drinking and is priced very well. I was surprised to see that this Reserve wine is available in distribution and is priced around $13.00 per bottle; that is a bargain my friends. Having said that, I think it is priced accordingly to what you get in the bottle. Next time you’re touring the 290 wine trail, stop by Becker Vineyards for a nice Merlot while sitting on the covered patio taking in the fresh Hill Country air.
Sip, savor, and enjoy my fellow aficionados.
Wine Curmudgeon says
Jeremy, I have to disagree with one thing based on my many years of drinking, tasting, judging, and writing about Texas wine. It is entirely possible — and entirely too easy — to find Texas merlot that is consistenly awful. We’ll have to compare notes some time.
Jeremy Wilson says
I have definitely had my share of less than stellar wines in Texas, including Merlot, so I cannot disagree with you that there are a few out there that are not well made. Having said that, my point when I mentioned that in my review was to showcase the delightful fact that Merlot outdoes her siblings so well in this state with our extreme terroir. Cabernet Sauvignon can tend to be flabby and hollow if grown here in central TX. Stellar years in the Hill Country produce excellent fruit, resulting in dazzling Cabs (AKA the Meritus from Fall Creek Vineyards). Cab Sauv is typically best suited for blending if it is not a stellar year unless it is grown in the High Plains or the Davis Mtns in far west TX. Malbec tends to follow along with Cabernet in the same regard. I expect inky, tannic and jammy Malbec from appropriate terroir, which is hard to do in this state. Cab Franc and Petit Verdot are not as commonly made into single varietal wines in Texas so I won’t include them in this conversation. You really should try Merlot (if you have not already) from the following wineries that consistently produce world class wines.
West Cave Cellars
Compass Rose Cellars
Barking Rocks Winery
Everything I state in my reviews are that of my personal opinion of course, and anyone is welcome to disagree. What I strive to do is share the correct information as best I can with my readership so that they can make informative decisions when buying and drinking Texas wine. The fact that I am a Bordeaux man and the fact that Texas Merlot continually impresses me, makes me excited to share this wonderful information with the Texas wine drinkers so they can grab a bottle, pop the cork and savor such a marvelous grape.
Ginny Harrell says
Jeremy, your article was wonderfully written, enjoyable to read. I have been to Becker and was delighted with my experience. Thank you for an excellent critique.
Jeremy Wilson says
Thank you, Ginny. Your kind words are much appreciated and I am glad you had a great experience at Becker.