Wine Time

Texas Wines Are Talk of the Town

In the wake of Sunday's Texas wine seminar at the Austin Food & Wine Festival, organized and moderated by Houston wine writer Russ Kane, Texas wines seem to be on everyone's minds this week.

Eatocracy (CNN): Food & Wine magazine executive wine editor Ray Isle, a Houston native, was a member of the seminar panel. Here are his notes for CNN's food blog, Eatocracy (editor's note: the Becker wasn't poured at the seminar):

The Hill Country near Austin is probably the most visitable wine region in the state, though in fact the high plains around Lubbock grow more grapes (partly because, to be honest, Austin is a lot more fun than Lubbock - sorry, Lubbockians). One of the stalwarts of the region is Becker Vineyards, which makes a mighty fine Viognier ($15 for the 2011 vintage). Somewhat smaller, and also well worth a visit, is Duchman Family Winery - try the elegant and citrusy 2010 Vermentino, among others.

Eat My Words (Texas Monthly): Texas Monthly wine writer Jessica Dupuy delivers detailed tasting notes for all the wines poured at the event. And she also offers a few nuggets from the panel:

To sum up the overarching theme of the morning, [Devon] Broglie [Master Sommelier and regional wine buyer for Whole Foods Market] put it like this. "It's important that we talk about the price of these wines but what we all agree on as wine professionals is that these are damn good wines. Not just good for Texas, but damn good across the board. That's what is most exciting about getting to talk about them in a setting like this."

Culture Map: Austin-based wine blogger Matt McGinnis also provides tasting notes on all the wines poured at the seminar. But he also addresses the white elephant in the room: "Sure we like to eat local and drink local," he writes, "but come on, is Texas wine up to snuff?"

"The panel was a veritable love fest for Texas wines," he notes. But "if they are so good, why don't they get broader recognition?" For an answer to this perennial, nagging question, he turns to moderator and leading Texas wine authority Russ Kane:

Kane chalks it up to relative scarcity of Texas wines being exported. "About 97% percent of what we produce is consumed locally. Texas is fifth largest wine producing state, the fourth largest consuming and the seventh largest grape grower. Clearly we don't have enough wine produced to serve the out of state market, so it is hard to get people in other states and countries to evaluate our wine. That's why there are not a lot of reviews in national magazines and that will continue until production grows."

Vintage Texas: You'll find links to yet more posts about the seminar and notes on the wines in Russ Kane's post. He also includes a link to background information on the wines he poured and some of the accolades they have received.

He notes that Texas winemakers achieve their greatest success when they grow grapes best suited to Texas terroir.

"Vermentino and Roussanne," he observes, "are white grapes that came to Texas from the coastal areas of Italy and the French Rhone Valley, respectively. The red grapes, Tempranillo, Syrah and Touriga Nacional, come from Spain, southern France and Portugal. The ringer in the bunch was Blanc Du Bois, which is Texas's own wine grape. While developed in Florida for hot, humid regions, more of it is grown here than anywhere else in the modern wine world."

We posted on the event here and there's no doubt in our minds that Sunday's seminar will be remembered as a milestone in the evolution of the Texas wine industry.

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Jeremy Parzen writes about wine for the Houston Press. A wine trade marketing consultant by day, he is also an adjunct professor at the University of Gastronomic Sciences in Piedmont, Italy. He spends his free time writing and recording music with his daughters and wife in Houston.
Contact: Jeremy Parzen