So much has changed for Brooke and Randy Hester since they were featured in a Texas Wine Lover story in July 2014. Most notably, they’ve moved home to Texas and released two vintages of C.L. Butaud wines. Named for Randy’s grandfather, C.L. Butaud wines (pronounced C.L. ′byü tō) entered the Texas wine market with a bang. Shortly after release in November 2016, the 2014 Tempranillo won The Wine and Food Foundation of Texas’ “Texas Wine of the Year” award for 2016 and sold out by December. Now that’s a happy homecoming!
Randy spent a decade in California learning the ins and outs of winemaking. After years of hard work at some of California’s most revered wineries, he started his own California label, Lightning Wines, in 2011. Randy is known for his extensive work with Grenache and plans to introduce Grenache in a Texas blend in the future. Lighting Wines also offers red blends, Syrah, rosé, and an intriguing CdP Blanc that features a blend of Grenache Blanc, Piquepoul Blanc, and Marsanne. Now Randy has brought his talents home to Texas.
Make no mistake, C.L Butaud is a Texas wine label featuring 100% Texas grapes. Randy is a strong believer that Texas has the ability to grow world-class grapes. His Lightning Wines label will continue to operate in California while he turns his attention to Texas. The C.L. Butaud website sums up the Hesters’ experience:
Our journey to produce quality Texas wine began ten years ago. We followed our hearts to the Napa Valley to learn everything we could, and we followed our roots back to Texas, our home.
C.L. Butaud is building a premium Texas brand. With Randy’s laser focus on stellar fruit and thoughtful winemaking, no detail is overlooked or left to chance. Social media has been a big focus, and Randy is active on a number of Texas wine Facebook groups. After Hurricane Harvey, Randy and Brooke immediately launched a fundraising effort to benefit the Gulf Coast and Randy’s hometown of Houston. Last month, the Hesters hosted a party at Austin’s Hotel Saint Cecilia for customers, friends, and growers. New followers are jumping on the C.L. Butaud bandwagon with enthusiasm.
C.L. Butaud currently makes just a few hundred cases of wine annually, and wine is sold directly through a mailing list. I purchased both wines in the current C.L. Butaud portfolio, the 2015 Tempranillo and the 2016 Rosé.
C.L. Butaud Tempranillo 2015
- 10 barrels produced (approximately 250 cases)
- Source: Texas High Plains
- Variety: 100% Tempranillo
- Alcohol: 13.8%
- 3-pack: $135
From its jet-black embossed label to the impressive heft of the bottle, the 2015 Texas Tempranillo is all business. This wine is compellingly drinkable. The aroma, with its blend of intense fruit and earthen notes, is mesmerizing. Red plum, black cherry, light cedar, and leather combine in a heady mix. The wine drinks easily with a pleasant mouthfeel, good acidity, and fine tannins. The finish is pleasantly long. I expect that some bottle age would further integrate the flavors and allow the wine to develop additional complexities. Drink one bottle now and tuck the other two bottles away for the future. Additionally, this bottle would make a great gift. It stands taller than a standard wine bottle and is possibly the heaviest 750 ml bottle I’ve ever held.
C.L Butaud Rosé 2016
- 75 cases produced
- Source: Texas High Plains
- Variety: 100% Mourvèdre
- Method: Co-fermented blend of whole cluster pressed fruit. Aged for eight months in a combination of stainless steel and neutral French oak barrels.
- Alcohol: 14.2%
- 3-pack: $75
The C.L. Butaud Rosé has soft aromas of blossom, red berry, and butterscotch. The wine has a more substantial weight than many rosés, with a pleasant warming sensation on the palate. Like a rosé from Provence, this pale salmon rosé is fermented dry. Rosé is not an afterthought for C.L. Butaud, so expect to see more exciting rosé offerings in the future. Drink now.
Listen more about Randy Hester with Randy’s interview on KOOP’s Another Bottle Down podcast from August 2, 2017.