There's good news and there's bad news.
First, the bad news.
In the wake of last Friday's "myth-debunking" post on sulfites in wine, I scoured the internets in search of "NSA" ("no sulfite added") wine available for sale in Houston but sadly didn't come up with much: Beyond the Frey Vineyard's "organic wines" with "no detectable sulfites" (see this post from last week; available at Spec's), I couldn't find any of our country's popular NSA wines -- like Coturri or Casa Barranca in California, Badger Mountain in Washington, or Cooper Mountain in Oregon -- at any of our local wine retailers. And let's not even talk about wines from France or Italy, where the number of NSA producers continues to expand (particularly in the Loire Valley).
It's sad to think that this category, however small, has been entirely neglected by the city's leading wine professionals, even though we live in one of the most important (and biggest) markets in the U.S. and one of our country's most sophisticated wine-loving cities. Just look at this offering of "wines without sulfur" from France, circulated over the weekend, the second in a series of tastings at a New York City wine shop.
(If you are a Houston-based retailer and carry a NSA wine, please share the info with us below in the comments section.)
Now for the good news.
NSA wines are produced just a few hour's drive from Houston to the west, in the Texas Hill Country, at La Cruz de Comal winery, where Houston-native Lewis Dickson has been making Natural wines (with a capital N) since 2001, when California Natural wine pioneer Tony Coturri first visited Dickson to help him to vinify his first vintage.
"No sulfur added... ever, to any wine... no exception," wrote Dickson in an email after I contacted him over the weekend.
Lewis grows a number of grapes, including international varieties, European varieties that were brought here by Spanish settlers, and hybrids that have been developed in the U.S. and cultivated in Texas with great success, like Blanc du Bois, which Lewis uses to make his Pétard Blanc (pictured above), my favorite of his wines.
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Lewis's Pétard (sounds kind of naughty, doesn't it?) delivers that lip-splitting, brilliant acidity that we're always looking for in food-friendly wine, low alcohol, and the technicolor fruit aromas and flavors that wines grown in a chemical-free environment can often attain.
Although the wines are not currently available retail in Houston, you will find them at RDG on Post Oak.