100% Texas wine. That is what the Texas Wine Revolution advertised. And for their inaugural festival in July 2016, they delivered. 700 or so attendees sampled 32 rosés from 26 different wineries, all made from 100% Texas grown grapes on the grounds of William Chris Vineyards. And to make the day a bit sweeter, which with all that dry wine it could use, four eateries provided tastings and full plate offerings to pair with the array of rosé.
Texas Wine Revolution wants to present one idea: 100% Texas grown wine. The current Texas labeling laws state wine that is 75% or more Texas grown can put Texas on the label. So how do we wine drinkers tell 100% from 75%? Unless we ask, we cannot. In fact, in my early days exploring Texas wine, I could not tell the difference between a wine only made in Texas from one grown in Texas. So, Chris Brundrett of William Chris Vineyards and many other prominent winemakers and grape growers decided the best way to help Texas wine lovers tell 100% Texas grown wine from 75% was to have a festival, a festival that showcased 100% Texas grown wine. This unique approach did cause a snag for the festival. The Texas Department of Agriculture, who hoped to help sponsor the event, could not do so. In order to be fair to wineries making wine from less than 100% Texas grown grapes, they could not provide the support they wanted; however, representatives did find their way into the large crowd.
Winemakers around the state shared their rosé creations. The main reason to attend was to sample premium Texas wines, but the festival had more to offer. Attendees roamed the grounds of William Chris Vineyards to taste the wines. Often, winemakers and/or owners poured the wines, giving people a chance to learn more about each wine from those who made it. Live music played in the background in the oak grove, and the distance actually allowed people to hear one another. Food samples, as well as larger plates, were available to pair with the wines. And when not tasting, plenty of shady spots provided refuge, not to mention a place to enjoy a glass or bottle and meet with friends. In fact, many Texas Winer Lover fans and staff got the chance to meet-up, and we could find one another thanks to the new Texas Wine Lover lapel pin.
As for the rosés, each shined with its own unique character. The 32 wines came from a variety of different grapes, from more traditional French grapes to Italian varieties and the ever-popular Spanish Tempranillo. For many, the grapes chosen do exceptionally well in Texas, as Texas shares many traits such as soil and climate with the countries the grapes originate from. A few wineries made stunning wines from more popular varieties that are a bit more hit or miss in Texas. Among the grapes, red varieties dominated, but a few white wines found their way into blends, most especially Blanc du Bois. 16 wines came from a single variety, with Cinsaut, Mourvèdre, and Sangiovese being the most popular options. The other 16 came from blends.
The wines presented a wide array of characteristics found in rosé. The traditional rosé, especially those found in Provence, France, are dry. And the vast majority I drank, and I tried them all, fit this description. In fact, not a single one was sweet, though a few were sweeter than some of the others. The wines varied in color, from the ones with only the barest hint of pink, like the Tatum Rosé from Tatum Cellars, to those in rich pink shades like the White Merlot from Westcave Cellars. Colors ran the gamut, much like the grapes.
And better yet, the flavors were unique for each. Rosé is most often a dry wine with high minerality and acid notes. More often than not, it is served chilled (not cold), which can bring out fresher and lighter berry flavors; most commonly, strawberry predominates the nose and taste of a rosé. Paired with an often lower alcohol content, rosé makes a great summer wine, or any time Texas wine.
The 32 offerings all shared those characteristics, and each provided very different interpretations. Some had more minerality and acid (which makes them terrific food pairing wines). Others expressed fresh fruit, but even among those, some were brighter and bolder. While strawberry showed well in most, other red fruits like cherry, cranberries, and raspberry provided a more nuanced expression. Of course, the often noticed floral qualities, especially rose petals, came across clearly. And then some wines found a voice in less expected fruits, like peach, melon, apple, citrus, pear, guava, and lychee, and vegetables, most noticeably cucumber. The options provided a rosé for any taste. And for me, I found a rosé for any mood.
And to add to all the deliciousness, four eateries provide both samples and full plates to go with the wine. Rosé is a versatile wine style. It can easily be enjoyed on its own, much like the fruits that are commonly noted in the wine, but it pairs well with food. Overall, the high minerality, as Doug Lewis explained, makes a person salivate, and that salivation makes us hungry. But the flexibility of the wine allows it be paired with many foods. The lighter flavors can add to less heavy foods like poultry and fish. On the other hand, the fuller body found in some pair exceptionally well with grilled meats. Shane Stark from Mongers Market + Kitchen said that BBQ, Mexican food, and other spicy foods (like Thai food) make a nice pairing with rosé. In fact, grilled peaches also work with rosé.
Attendees could sample four distinct food options. Mongers offered a fish dip made from pickled Fresno chile, radish, and celery. Johnson City restaurant Bryan’s on 290 made smoked pork belly with peach and gorgonzola salad. Bryan could be found manning the meat, and braving the fire’s heat in the Texas sun. From Fredericksburg, Otto’s had short rib sliders with house made Akaushi pastrami, red cabbage, and house made mustard. Finally, popular Austin cheese shop Antonelli’s Cheese Shop brought a three cheese plate of Chevre, San Isidro, and Grandbury Gold with figs and strawberry jam. As Shane had mentioned, the versatility of rosé allowed an eclectic and diverse menu.
Of course, this is only the beginning. Based on the numbers and all the happy faces on social media, it seems Texas Wine Revolution was a success. Those attending took their memories home with them. Everyone received a six-bottle tote bag, two souvenir stemless wine glasses (one glass and one plastic), and a passport with all the info on the wines. And of course, they could bring some of the rosé home with them. And next year offers a chance for new memories. As for next year’s festival theme, that is not yet known, but expect that it will highlight the best Texas has to offer.
More photos from the festival can be found on Texas Wine Lover’s Facebook page.
Wines and Wineries at Texas Wine Revolution
2014 Jolie, Becker Vineyards
2015 High Plains Rosé, Bending Branch Winery
2015 Sangiovese Rosé, Bent Oak Winery
2014 High Plains Sunset Rosé, Bingham Family Vineyards
2015 Dry Rosé, Brennan Vineyards
2015 Tickled Pink, Caudalie Crest Winery
2015 Dandy Rosé, Wine For the People (Rae Wilson)*
2015 Dead Flowers Rosé, Yellow City Cellars (Bo Salling)*
2015 Rosé of Sangiovese, Grape Creek Vineyards
2015 Ramato, Grape Creek Vineyards
2014 Patricia Rosé, Hawk’s Shadow Winery
2015 Rosato, Hye Meadow Winery
2014 Rosé of Malbec, Kiepersol Estate Winery
2015 White Merlot, Kissing Tree Vineyards
2015 Hensell, Kuhlman Cellars (currently sold out)
2015 High Plains Rosé, Lewis Wines
2015 Parr Mourvèdre Rosé, Lewis Wines
2014 Rosato, Los Pinos Ranch Vineyards
2015 Arroyo Rosé, Lost Draw Cellars
2015 Dry Rosé, Lost Oak Winery
2015 Les Copains Rosé, McPherson Cellars
2014 Vivace, Pelle Legna Vineyards
2014 Tempranillo Rosé, Spicewood Vineyards
2014 Mourvèdre Rosé, Spicewood Vineyards
2015 Tatum Rosé, Tatum Cellars (Joshua Fritsche)*
2015 Rosato di Sangiovese, Texas Hills Vineyards
2014 Rosé di Montepulciano, Torr Na Lochs
2015 Rosé di Dolcetto, Wedding Oak Winery
2014 Sangio Rosé, Westcave Cellars
2013 White Merlot, Westcave Cellars
2015 Pétillant Naturel, William Chris Vineyards
2015 Cinsault Rosé, William Chris Vineyards
* Wines not from a physical winery