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The Sip, Season One: Texas Wines Tasted in Austin

Anthony Head / photos by author

 Inside the tasting room at The Sip, Season One  

On April 28, about two dozen Austin, Texas-area sommeliers, restaurateurs and journalists gathered for a blind tasting hosted by a handful of family-owned Texas wineries. The event, christened "The Sip, Season One", illuminated the current state of Texas wines-specifically, how many Texas wines are not only hitting their stride in quality, but also picking up speed in innovation.

Held at the newly expanded Red Room Wine Lounge in downtown Austin, the tasting was conducted in two flights (there were non-Texas wines included for comparison; the first set of wines were revealed in between, and the second set of wines at the conclusion). Although this particular collection of wineries was mostly clustered in central Texas, the wines themselves represented a broader view of the state's various growing regions, including the Hill Country and the High Plains.

Even more impressive was the breadth of varietals being grown and represented-some, like Syrah and Black Spanish, have been firmly established in the Texas terroir for decades, while others (many others, actually, like Viognier, Roussanne, Palomino, Aglianico and Tannat, for example) continue to be introduced successfully all the time. Not only are the state's individual vineyards showing a diversity of character, but winemakers and growers are showing a lot of progressive foresight in searching to find the right varietals to effectively plant to the land.

"For me, Texas wines continuously show varietal typicity for Mediterranean varietals," said Daniel Kelada, Board Vice President for the Texas Wine Consortium, after completing the tasting. "We might as well brand [Texas] 'the Mediterranean of the New World' already."

As an objective participant of this tasting, I can agree with that assessment. But I'm also convinced this state is only beginning to find its true terroir. A couple of the wines tasted were presented (I'm only guessing) because the winemakers believe in their potential; their overall quality and enjoyment, for me, was lacking. But there were true world-class wines, as well, and they sold the case for believing that a lot of delicious surprises are going to continue to come from Texas.


Participating Wineries for The Sip, Season One, Austin, Texas: 

Fall Creek Vineyards 

Inwood Estates 

Perissos Vineyards

Pontotoc Vineyard 

Sandstone Cellars 

Spicewood Vineyards

Stone House Vineyard

This Sip's For Me


Matt McGinnis, a Certified Sommelier, wine writer and the afternoon's tasting moderator, told me afterwards that perceptions of Texas wines, both inside and outside the state, are slowly being reevaluated. "Change takes time. But if one of the sommeliers that attended puts Texas wine on their list and encourages people to put Texas wine on their table, then we have achieved success with this first event."

Well, I'm no somm, but after this tasting, I'm definitely putting the Fall Creek Vineyards 2013 Sauvignon Blanc, Texas, on my list. I'm a true fan of the varietal, and this $12 bottle from the Lone Star State-luscious flavors of white peach, citrus and herbs and so wonderfully balanced-just became my official Porch Wine for the summer of 2014. -A.H.

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