This has been a watershed year in wine for me. Among my many highlights for 2014, I attended TEXSOM and met fellow Texas Wine Lover Jeff Cope; I passed the Court of Master Sommeliers’ Level 1 examination; I attended fabulous wine events and talked with up-and-coming Texas winemakers; and, most significantly, Jeremy Wilson and I joined up with Jeff and Gloria to form the expanded Texas Wine Lover team.
With a year like that, you’d think that by now, my wine recollections would all be a happy blur of reds, whites, and rosés. However, there were a few Texas wines that when I and/or my husband had a few sips, we just had to stop for a moment and exclaim, “Oh, wow!”
Here, in no particular order, are some of my most memorable Texas wines from 2014:
- Pedernales Cellars Tempranillo Reserve 2012. I had my first taste of this wine on a visit to the Hill Country back in the spring, and right away, I knew I had found something special. This wine is a prime example of why Tempranillo is putting Texas on the international wine map, with beautiful hints of cherry and plum on the nose along with hints of toasted hazelnut. The finish is silken and lush.
- Becker Vineyards Texas Chenin Blanc 2012. This wine won a Bronze at the San Francisco International Wine Competition, and for good reason. Discovered during the same Hill Country jaunt as the Pedernales Tempranillo, my group tasted several wines before grabbing an entire bottle of this golden jewel along with some cheese and crackers to enjoy under the shady arbor at the vineyard.
- Sloan & Williams Texas Sangiovese 2012. Sloan & Williams Winery in Grapevine hasn’t been around long, but already they are making their presence known with elegant, well-structured wines like this Sangiovese. My husband is an even more discerning wine critic than I am, and when he sipped this Sangiovese on Christmas evening, he said, “This is one of the best Sangioveses I’ve ever had from anywhere.” Take that, Tuscany!
- Los Pinos Ranch Vineyards Texican Blend 2011. This big Cabernet Sauvignon-Sangiovese blend will knock you off your saddle! I had my first sampling of this bold, muscular blend at the State Fair of Texas, and it had me longing for a juicy rib-eye so I could hunker down and give it all my attention. This sassy wine has “Texas” written all over it, and it definitely demands food for appropriate appreciation. Fortunately, it’s conveniently available at Total Wine and More retail stores, so keep that in mind next time you slap a slab on the barbeque.
- Eden Hill Vineyard Texas Chambourcin 2012. There’s only one thing I love more than a good glass of Texas wine, and that is talking with a young, inspired winemaker like Chris Hornbaker of Eden Hill Vineyard and Winery. Eden Hill first got my attention at GrapeFest with their Moscato, but on a later visit to the tasting room in Celina, my husband and I especially adored their Chambourcin, made from the hybrid grape of the same name. One of the things I appreciate about Chris as a winemaker is that he will try new things in an attempt to extract more nuance from the Texas terroir. Unfortunately, I’m not entirely sure of this particular wine’s availability, but don’t worry—they have many other amazing wines, and it’s definitely worthwhile to visit them in Celina.
- Messina Hof Wine Cellars Private Reserve Papa Paulo Port 2010. I admit, I do harbor favoritism to one of Texas’ First Families of Wine because they make so many lovely vintages, and their spectacular sense of hospitality always bowls me over. However, the important thing is that their fine wines continue to rack up medals, and one example is their Reserve Port. I credit this wine with single-handedly convincing me that a sweet wine could be a good wine, and I’ve since been spreading the word that this Port with a slice of cheesecake is just this side of heaven.
So, there you have it—one Texas Wine Lover’s year in review. There were many fabulous vintages along the way, but these were some that by virtue of flavor, time, and place really lodged themselves in my mental wine log.
What about you? What Texas wines made your list of favorites this last year?