If I had to pick a state where I would like to live it would be Texas. I love Texas; no-nonsense but unfailingly polite people with a get-it-done attitude and Faith and Family First beliefs. You don’t need to spend a whole lot of time figuring a Texan out. Unsurprisingly, that attitude seems to come through in their wine too.
If you don’t know, Texas is the 5th largest wine-producing state in the country, behind only California, Washington, Oregon and New York. The one name that you may have heard of from the Lone Star State is Becker Vineyards. Becker began when Dr. Richard and Bunny Becker were out looking for a log cabin summer home in the Texas Hill Country outside San Antonio. They found their dream cabin in 1990, which came with 46 acres of land. Both Beckers were happy gardeners. Planting their first vines in 1992, they yielded their first harvest in 1995 which led to a 1500 bottle a year vineyard. Today, Becker Vineyards produces 100,000 bottles annually, with a thriving bed and breakfast and wedding venue.
Becker is best known for their Cabernet Sauvignon, however I decided to try the Merlot instead. It had the muscle and beef of a Cabernet, with rich flavors of plumbs and cinnamon. Normally I’m not a big fan of Merlots, but in this case I enjoyed the wine.
The second Texan wine was a complete surprise to me. Leave it to Griffy to find an Italian wine in the wild west, because at McPherson Cellars you can find a Sangiovese. It happens that the High Plains area of the Texas panhandle is pretty good for growing Tuscan wines. The McPhersons have been growing wines in Texas for 40 years and were the first to plant Italian wines in Texas.
The wine was as good as any Chianti I’ve ever tasted. The color wasn’t as dark as a traditional Italian, but the taste as spot on. This Sangiovese had the distinct flavor of berries–most prominently raspberries and blackberries–and the berry aroma blended nicely with the subtle tones of leather. I want to try there DBS blend, it’s a blend of Dolcetto (56%), Babera (29%), and Sangiovese (15%), which made this wine an absolute winner to me.
The third and last wine from my Trilogy of Texas comes from the town of Lubbock, which is located in the Texas High Plains. This blend is perfect for you Rhone Rangers out there: Tempranillo blended with Mourvedre and Carignan. Popping the cork you are met with a nose that opens with cranberry and vanilla. The taste is full-bodied and heavy in cherry and spice.
While sampling my wines, I got a chance to look through Dr. Russell D. Kane’s “The Wineslinger Chronicles: Texas on the Vine.” This is one that I definitely intend to buy, as there are many stories in the book that sound very interesting. One in-particular that caught my attention where a scientist from El Paso saved the French from the 1800’s Phylloxera epidemic. There is also a story about the Mustang Grape (vitas mustangeusis) which sounds like it is the Poison Ivy of grapes. I can’t wait to read about it all!
So as I fly over Arkansas and Tennessee on my way back to Connecticut, I look forward to my next visit to Texas, where I plan to continue my wine travels. If you get the chance to try a Texas wine, do it! Wine after all, like travel, is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, so have a glass and expand your horizons.