Texas has a long and storied history when it comes to wine. For hundreds of years, the Lone Star State has been growing grapes to make one of life’s greatest pleasures. The modern history of Texas winemaking begins in Lubbock, Texas when a few great folks decided the Texas High Plains would be a prime spot to plant wine grapes. One of the early pioneers in the industry is Bobby Cox, founder/owner of Pheasant Ridge Winery. He, his wife Jennifer, and his parents embarked on a journey that would take them to far lengths in the industry. We have Bobby and many others to thank for the current status of Texas wine, my friends.
When Jeff Cope and I were up in the Texas High Plains for Newsom Grape Day a few weeks ago, Bobby met us at Pheasant Ridge Winery for a private tasting. While there, we were able to taste several of the older wines that are currently on the tasting menu. These wines are a true testament that Texas wine, both red AND white can age gracefully. Of all the wines purchased, I decided to review the Chardonnay, not only due to its beauty and history, but because it is also a grape that is “not supposed” to grow well in Texas. I fully agree that we should all be concentrating on warm weather grape varieties, as these are the plants that are slinging our state into a whirlwind of this huge quality increase we are seeing. Grapes like Viognier, Roussanne, and Chenin Blanc are becoming household names at wineries across the state. However, there are always exceptions, and this wine is certainly one of them. Chardonnay definitely CAN grow well in Texas, even if it is not one to rely on to help move our industry forward.
The bottle up for review is the 2006 Chardonnay from Pheasant Ridge Winery. This wine was made during a time when Bobby was not at the helm of the winery, but it signifies the style and relevance that he created when the winery was founded. The bottle is wrapped in a clean, and very attractive label.
Once the cork is pulled, the wine pours into the glass a deep golden color. This wine has really darkened in the bottle over the last 11 years! The first waft of aromas really speaks to the age of the wine. Notes of toast, butter, and ever so delicate citrus undertones tickle the senses. On the palate, the wine is not quite fresh and bright any more, but palate coating and supple. The acidity is fairly low now, but it is still zingy enough to speak to the soul and feel very much alive. The wine finishes with a moderate silky finish.
- Pheasant Ridge Winery Chardonnay, 2006 vintage
- Appellation: Texas, Texas High Plains AVA
- Grape Varieties: Chardonnay
- Barrels: French oak
- Clarity/brightness: Clear/slightly dull, some sediment and particulates noted
- Tannins: Low
- Acidity: Medium minus
- Alcohol: Low
- Finish: Moderate
- Alcohol by volume: 13.3%
- Price: $14.00 per bottle at the time of review
I won’t lie, this wine is not for everyone. You need to appreciate the history behind it, and enjoy well aged whites to know its value. This is not a bottle to chill down to 40 degrees and drink on the patio on a hot afternoon. No, it is reserved for enjoyment with wine aficionados all while thinking about the history of Texas wine. This old wine is at its limit, and I recommend grabbing a bottle soon and drinking it right away. It is still sexy as all get out, but in a funky old white wine sort of way. It is both elegant and thought inspiring. This wine is a fine example of what high altitude and windy conditions can do for a grape like Chardonnay. For a grape that “cannot grow well in Texas,” this one is sure to prove that even when not practical, anything is possible. I highly recommend you pick up a bottle of this Chardonnay before they are all gone. It is truly a piece of Texas wine history, one that you’re sure to enjoy.
NOTE: Due to the age and sensitivity of this wine, I recommend NOT decanting it. Once open, drink it right away, don’t save the rest for another time. These aged wines are gentle and sensitive, therefore they quickly degrade once exposed to oxygen. Cheers!
Sip, savor, and enjoy my fellow aficionados.