Since 2015, rosé has been one of the fastest-growing wine categories in the country: the pink-hued beverage is relatively affordable, low in alcohol, immensely versatile, and appealing to a range of palates. Its popularity is good news for Texas winemakers. Rosé is a style that benefits from the Lone Star State’s sunny growing conditions, as exemplified in the surprising depth of flavor found in the 2020 Lost Draw Cellars Counoise Rosé, the standout in a recent Texas Monthly tasting of more than fifty new offerings from around the state. Another favorite is the lush and floral 2020 Cheramie Wine Montepulciano Rosé from one of the first Black female vintners in the state. Less traditional styles also fared well. These fresh, fun, and fruity conversation starters include the 2020 Spicewood Vineyards Petillant Naturel rosé and the grapy 2019 Kerrville Hills Winery Farmhouse Piquette. Here, in alphabetical order, are the thirteen standouts of our tasting.
One of the bolder selections in this lineup, this wine comes from a relatively new Hill Country producer. Made from Rhône Valley native mourvèdre, a promising grape for Texas, this rosé shines with a soft pink hue in the glass but packs a punch with aromas of summer flowers, ripe strawberry, and spongy orange peel. On the palate are notes of SweeTarts candies and strawberry cream with a pronounced broadness, rich flavor, and a nice, lifted finish.
From one of the top grape-growing families in the High Plains, this wine is a stunner. With a strong pink hue that verges on magenta, it is lush with floral and fruity aromas. The flavor profile is full and luscious but balanced and vibrant, with notes of watermelon and pomegranate and a nice, elegant structure.
A remarkable find, this selection is the second release from one of the first Black female vintners in Texas, Cheramie Law. With a rich pink color accented by glints of copper, the wine gives off aromas that are lush and floral with ripe strawberry, vanilla, and marmalade. It’s bright and round on the palate, with a pleasant kiss of tartness on the finish.
This is a spectacular offering from Austin-based winemaker Randy Hester. Barely the faintest hint of pink clings to the center of the glass in this wine. But don’t let that fool you; this vin gris style of rosé is brimming with aromas of strawberry, pomegranate, and juicy lemon. These flavors are rich and palate-filling, yet restrained and beautifully balanced.
Piquette isn’t a style of wine you run into every day. It dates back to ancient Roman and Greek times, and has been produced in France and other parts of Europe for centuries as a farmer’s low-alcohol lunch wine. It’s made from the second pressings of grape pomace, the dense cake of grape skins, seeds, stems, and pulp that remain after juice has been pressed for wine. Its rich, grapy color and concentrated fruit-punch flavors means it barely qualifies as a rosé, but this easy-drinking, low-alcohol-style wine is exactly the sort of thing we should be enjoying in the Lone Star State—all summer long. You won’t find much of it in Texas except from Kerrville Hills and one or two other producers, but served chilled on the patio, this wine is fresh, fun, and decidedly quaffable.
This pretty Provençal-style number rated the highest in the tasting. Its light, unassuming shade of pink belies a decidedly versatile depth of aroma and flavor. Notes of summer berries, cotton candy, and herbs de Provence stretch onto the palate with spritely balance and a finessed finish. Using grapes grown by Farmhouse Vineyards, in Brownfield, southwest of Lubbock, this wine is a promising example of what the counoise grape, a minor player in Rhône Valley blends, can do in the semiarid soils of the High Plains.
With a glimmering bashful pink hue in the glass, this rosé of grenache noir and grenache blanc from stalwart Texas producer McPherson Cellars is a true gem. Vibrant yet delicate, with subtle aromas of raspberries dusted with lemon zest and summer daisies, the flavor is laser-focused with a tart, mineral-driven finish.
This jewel-toned pink selection from one of the state’s wine pioneers checks all the right boxes for this style of wine. It opens with faint, subtle aromas of early strawberry and fleshy lemon pulp but expands to a surprisingly full-flavor profile with ripe strawberry, cherry, and a soft, finessed finish.
One of the state’s largest grape growers, Reddy Vineyards got into the winemaking game a few years ago and was off to a running start. This rosé is an excellent example of the quality coming from this grower-producer, with lovely notes of summer flower fields and ripe berries dusted with powdered sugar. The taste is full and round with a pleasant tartness on the finish.
A fantastic offering to please any palate preference, this wine is reminiscent of classic Provençal rosé. Aromas are generous, with notes of tropical fruit and macerated strawberry and cherry. The wine is soft and fresh and broadens in depth on the finish.
If you’re new to the Pet-Nat style of sparkling wine, it’s time you joined in on the fun. It’s made in the French Methôde Ancestrale style, which employs native yeasts to allow the wine to complete its fermentation in a capped bottle, resulting in an often fruity, unfiltered, finely fizzy wine. This offering from Spicewood Vineyards is one of many Texas examples on the market. Made from sangiovese and a touch of viognier, it’s a zippy fruit bomb with notes of cherry bubblegum and raspberry coulis. Word to the wise: these wines are a bit unpredictable when opening. Chill down to at least 40 degrees, and place upright in a large bowl at the base of the kitchen sink before popping the cap. The volcanic display is fun to watch, but be sure to let the effervescence settle for a couple of minutes before serving.
One of the associate winemakers for Spicewood Vineyards and Ron Yates Winery, Reagan Sivadon launched his family-owned label a couple of years ago and has quickly gained a loyal following. This Rhône-style rosé is a blend of grenache, mourvèdre, syrah, and marselan (a cross between cabernet sauvignon and grenache). With a lighter Provençal-style color, this wine offers notes of sun-ripened strawberry and macerated raspberries with a bright lemon-rind finish.
Cinsault, another minor player in red-wine blends from the Rhône Valley, continues to show prowess in the Texas heat. William Chris Vineyards has already proved its strength in red-wine offerings, but this rosé is equally remarkable. Aromas of strawberry, marshmallow, and citrus blossoms lead to a zippy flavor brimming with berries and a quenchy finish.
This article originally appeared in the June 2021 issue of Texas Monthly with the headline “Rosé to the Occasion.” Subscribe today.