Drawing a crowd to an outdoor event on a July afternoon in the Texas heat usually requires the presence of wave pools, water slides, lakes or beaches. None of these were present. Well, then it must have been the beer, margaritas, barbeque and rockin’ bands that brought out the crowds? No cold beer or slushy drinks at this venue. However, the misting fans were running, a breeze was blowing among the Hill Country’s spreading oaks and the crowds turned out along Texas Highway 290 in Hye. A revolution was underway.
Vive la Texas! Vive la Revolution du Vin!
The inaugural Texas Wine Revolution at William Chris Vineyards was showcasing the beauty of 27 Texas wineries pouring their best 100% Texas-grown Rosé wines. Why the Texas Wine Revolution? To show the difference between Texas grown wine vs. Texas appellation wines (containing at least 75% Texas-grown juice). Why all Rosé? Grape growers and winemakers across the state are no longer trying to copy West Coast wines. The state’s climate doesn’t favor the varietals that excel in cooler maritime climes. It’s too freaking hot and dry for those, but it is ideal for growing Rosé varietals. It seems that Texas grape growers and winemakers have reached this conclusion at the right time: Rosé wine is the style of wine with the fastest growing sales in the US today. A decade or two ago there was too much confusion as to what a real Rosé was all about. Back then most Rosés in the American market were sweet versions of Zinfandel (White Zinfandel), Cabernet or Merlot Blanc. They were very high in residual sugar and fruity — more like a kids’ summer thirst quencher made from a packet than a fine wine. Many a wine newbie started out with this or a nice German Riesling wine before maturing and moving onto dryer, more sophisticated wines. Today more men can be seen shrugging off the old tired stereotype while drinking a beautiful dry crisp Rosé wine and eating quiche.
All these wines exhibited the attributes of very good to exceptional Rosés with flavor notes of strawberry, cherry, pomegranate and raspberry with varying amounts of acid levels and effervescence. All were very much in a southern Rhone style (of which I can’t get enough). Catherine and I were able to taste through only 17 of the 32 Rosé wines being offered. In full disclosure, we paid for our tickets and didn’t receive any gifts or special consideration. Yep, we stood in lines and sweated it out with everyone else. I scored wines on a 1 to 5 scale with no wine we tasted scoring less than a 4.
Bending Branch 2015 High Plains Rosé
Varietal: Cinsault. Description: Medium salmon color with strawberry and raspberry flavors; perfect balance of fruit and acid. Score: 5
Bingham Family Vineyards 2014 High Plains Sunset Rosé
Varietal: Mourvèdre. Description: Deeper salmon color with notes of strawberry and dark cherry; good fruit notes and nice balance. Score: 4
Brennan Vineyards 2015 Dry Rosé
Varietal: 79% Mourvèdre, 21% Grenache. Description: Light blush; slight ripe strawberry, pomegranate finishing with raspberry; dry light body with crisp mouth feel. Score: 5
Hye Meadow 2015 Rosato
Varietal: 42% Sangiovese, 27% Aglianico, 17% Dolcetto, 14% Montepulciano. Description: Nice Salmon color and layering of four classic Italian varietels resulting in notes of rose petal and honey dew; nice balanced core of fruit. Score: 5
Kuhlman Cellars 2015 Hensell Rosé
Varietal: Cinsault. Description: Light blush color; notes of strawberries, melon rind and wet slate; soft acidity and rich mouthfeel. Score: 5
Lewis Wines 2015 High Plains Rosé
Varietal: 70% Cinsault, 11% Mourvèdre, 11% Cabernet Sauvignon. Description: Notes of cantaloupe, cucumber and strawberry preserves, finishing with peach; light, balanced and very good. Score 4
Lewis Wines 2015 Mourvèdre Rosé
Varietal: 100% Mourvedre. Description: Beautiful balance of strawberry, cherry fruit, nice weight finishing off with a touch of cream. Score: 5
Lost Draw Cellars 2015 Arroyo Rosé
Varietal: 50% Cinsault, 40% Grenache, 10% Rolle. Description: Beautiful, delicious Provencal-style dry Rose; nice balance, crisp acidity. Score: 5
Lost Oak Winery 2015 Dry Rosé
Varietal: 58% Blanc du Bois, 37% Muscat Canelli, 5% Merlot. Description: Light salmon color; big floral nose very reminiscent of a Torrontes from Argentina, dry berry fruit; nice fruit to acid balance. Score: 5
McPherson Cellars 2015 Les Copains Rosé
Varietal: 82% Cinsault, 10% Grenache, 8% Rolle. Description: Classic Rhone style with light salmon color; aromas and flavors of ripe strawberry and Bing cherry; medium-body, juicy on the palate with good acidity. Score: 5
Spicewood Vineyards 2014 Mourvèdre Rosé
Varietal: 100% Mourvedre. Description: Very light salmon color; aromas of strawberry and cherry with light notes of mango and citrus; nice balance. Score: 4
Spicewood Vineyards 2014 Tempranillo Rosé
Varietal: 100% Tempranillo. Description: Deep salmon color; aromas of red plum and melon with flavors of watermelon and strawberries; good balance. Score: 4
Tatum Cellars 2015 Rosé
Varietal: 60% Grenache, 40% Mourvèdre. Description: Light Salmon color; classic Rhone-style flavors; beautiful balance of fruit and crisp acid. Score: 5
Torr Na Lochs Vineyard & Winery 2014 Rosé di Montepulciano
Varietal: 100% Montepulciano. Description: Deep Salmon color; notes of strawberries; bright and crisp. Score: 4
Wedding Oak Winery 2015 Rosé de Dolcetto
Varietal: 100% Dolcetto. Description: Medium Salmon color; aromas of fresh red strawberries and cranberries on the palate; a touch of minerality. Score: 5
William Chris Vineyards 2015 Cinsault Rosé
Varietal: 85% Cinsault (whole cluster press), 15% Cinsault, Cabernet, Merlot, Malbec, Mourvèdre (saignee method). Description: Light Salmon color; fresh strawberry and raspberry on the palate; light reserved fruit and balance. Score: 4
William Chris Vineyards 2015 Pétillant Naturel Rosé
Varietal: Cinsault, Petite Verdot, Malbec, Mourvèdre, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon. Description: Deep Salmon color; an interesting mix of Bordeaux and Rhone varietels. A nice frizzante sparkler with rich macerated, darker fruit notes and a light maderized flavor funk note that adds to its’ layers of complexity. The cross section of French varietels integrate very well resulting with a siren’s call for another glass. Score: 5
What about the barbeque and bands, you ask? There was great food available for purchase from Bryan’s on 290 (Johnson City), Mongers Market & Kitchen (Austin), Otto’s German Bistro (Fredericksburg) and Antonelli’s Cheese Shop (Austin). We really loved the smoked pork belly with peach & Gorgonzola salad that Chef Bryan Gillenwater featured. (We’ll be publishing a peach pico de gallo recipe soon and adding it to our South Texas Summer Favorites menu. Thanks Chef Bryan for the inspiration!) Oh, and the band? They were a nice compliment to the experience with just the right notes wafting on the breeze through the shady oaks.
Long live Texas! Long live the Wine Revolution!
— Dale Blankenship with Catherine Sansing