The family and I just got back from a nice week visiting family in the hill country west of Austin, TX. Whenever I head out that way, I'm focused on family and relaxing, not wine. I've never managed to visit a Texas winery. However, I admire the rocky limestone soils of the Texas hills and promise I'll venture out to visit producers on of these days.
Meanwhile, I managed to try a few bottles that I thought I'd write about. First, the 2004 Alamosa "El Guapo" that's a mostly tempranillo bottling with a bit of mourvedre and cabernet. Yikes, what happened here? Lots of volatile acidity, a browning color and not much else to mention. I would have skipped noting this wine, but the old Cork and Demon blog noted a similar experience with the 2002 version of this bottling. Something's wrong here and it's too bad. I'm interested to try non-Bordeaux varieties in Texas. The climate is so hot, it's got to be better for truly hot climate varieties.
However, the next wine was the 2007 Becker Vineyards Merlot "Iconoclast." I've tried other bottles from this producer and this was no exception. Solid, varietally true wine that's a little oaky and anonymous but otherwise a nice buy for around $10. And that's not just for Texas. For the money, this is comparable with good wine from almost anywhere. The question is whether it's your style.
Me, I'd rather try other things and the find of this trip was McPherson, a producer out of Lubbock in northern Texas that was started by the Davis-trained son of the founder of Texas winery pioneer Llano Estacado. McPherson makes mostly Rhone variety wines, and I tried the 2008 McPherson Tre Colore, a blend of more carignan, less mourvedre and a little bit of viognier. I really liked the profile of this wine. It had a peppery aroma and some floral notes. In the mouth it was nervy and actually a little green, but with food that rounded out fine. An imperfect wine but something that suggested there's more to learn here. Not a bad buy at $14.
The last night, we tried the 2008 McPherson Sangiovese, and dang if this ain't a real good chee-an-tee ringer. Cherry and earth aromas, maybe a little soft on the acid but otherwise nicely pure and elegant. This cost $16 and is a nice buy given what you can usually find from Italy or anywhere else in the sangiovese department.