TEXSOM Brings Taste of Local Southwestern Wines
In the late 2000s, a movement began to solidify around drinking local wine. Its manifesto was to encourage people to seek out their good local juice rather than their usual glass of red Burgundy, Napa Cabernet or New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc. Pairing these local wines with local cuisine was encouraged, too.
During this time, Texas became a leader of the American’s southwest wine region. In prior decades, our winemakers seemed content to be “me-toos” by offering the standard Cabernet, Merlot, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay like the better known and established wine regions, despite the growing knowledge that they were not right for our rather warm climate. However, in current times, Texas winegrowers are focusing on growing European varieties that their land and climate tell them make sense. These are vines originally residents of Mediterranean climes like Tempranillo, Sangiovese, Mourvèdre, Viognier, Roussanne, and Muscat, that are now at home in Texas.
Last week, Texsom – the successful Texas sommelier symposium that’s become an international attraction – featured a bit of the southwest with wines from Texas and a seminar on the wines of Arizona.
Starting at the Sunday evening hospitality, the Texas delegation was headed by a quartet of Texas wineries that collaborate their marketing under the Texas Fine Wine moniker: They poured a raft of excellent wines highlighted by some of my personal favorites: Pedernales Cellars Reserve Viognier, Brennan Vineyards Mourvèdre Rosé, Spicewood Vineyards Tempranillo, and Bending Branch Winery Tannat.
The Arizona wine seminar presented by American wine authority Elaine Chukan Brown was a primer for those still clueless on this up-and-coming state’s wines and wine regions. Like Texas, Arizona shares an early wine heritage that began with the Spanish missionary period. Now, Arizona has over 100 wineries with major wine grape production coming from three areas: Verde Valley north of Phoenix, and Sonoita and Willcox) in the southern part of the state near Tucson (click here for more information).
The Arizona wines featured a great display of a little-known Italian white grape, Malvasia Bianca done three ways: early and normal harvest, and barrel aged. This grape fits Arizona’s climate “squeeze” allowing it to ripen and be harvest between its last spring freeze and the mid-summer monsoon rains. Featured offerings of Malvasia wines were from Sand-Reckoner Vineyards, Caduceus Cellars and Hidden Hand Wines. Like Texas, the red’s from Arizona are driven by Italian, Spanish and southern French varieties that thrive in the high dessert conditions and limey soils.
Texsom ended with a Monday evening Grand Tasting that included Texas wines from Becker Vineyards, Llano Estacado Winery, William Chris Vineyards, Messina Hof Winery, Lewis Wines and Texas Find Wines. Attractions were William Chris Vineyards four pack of canned sparking rosé, Messina Hof’s GSM (Grenache – Syrah – Mourvèdre), and Llano Estacado’s 1836 white blend (Roussanne, Viognier and Chardonnay).