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Top Texas Wines: Summer 2017

Whites, reds, rosés—we’ve found our favorite of each for this summer’s backyard barbecues.

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Grapes at Spicewood Vineyard
Photograph by Emily McCullar

During sweltering summers, there’s nothing better than finding some shade and drinking a Texas wine, especially if it’s a crisp white or fruity rosé. Just in time to kick off summer, we’ve got a solid list of our favorite summer wines to get you through the sultry season. You’ll find ten vibrant and refreshing whites along with ten big, bold reds.

When it comes to the star of the season, rosé, we’re looking for something that falls somewhere between a basket of summer fruit and a nice cold glass of raspberry lemonade. But no rosé is created equal, which is why it wasn’t difficult to find nine distinctive ones to discuss—three of which are from the same producer, who clearly has a strong handle on celebrated this style of wine.

White

2016 Brennan Vineyards Roussanne, $18
Aromas are rich with ripe peach and yellow flowers, backed by vibrant lemon and a touch of minerality. On the palate, this wine is big with a little weight from the slightly high alcohol content, but crisp and refreshing to the end.

2016 Fall Creek Vineyards Headwaters Chenin Blanc, $15
Like a basket of summer peaches, this wine invites you to dig right in. Notes of lemon and steel are subtle, but the palate has a bit of weight, with refreshing lift and a finish kissed with stone fruit. This is a great alternative to Chardonnay. 

2016 Haak Vineyards and Winery Blanc du Bois Dry, $19
This lovely summer sipper is made from Blanc du Bois grapes grown near the Texas coast. Aromas of ripe peach, orange blossom, and tropical fruit rush the nose with a swirl from the glass. On the palate, this wine continues its fruity and floral path leading to a refreshingly dry finish.

2016 Hilmy Cellars Chenin Blanc, $24
This wine needs a little bit of coaxing to reveal its lovely lemon pulp and white flower aroma. The grapes for this Chenin Blanc were grown in the Texas High Plains and were aged for 40 days “sur lie,” or on the spent yeast from fermentation, giving it a softer, creamier feel. On the palate this wine is lush with rich flavor and and an enticing chalky finish.

2016 Kuhlman Cellars Viognier, $27
Led by a floral characteristics reminiscent of a field of summer yellow flowers, this wine offers notes of fleshy peach and a touch of lemon zest on a palate that is bright and has a nice lingering acidity. A refreshing, crisp style for this grape variety.

2016 Kuhlman Cellars Calcaria, $22
A lovely blend of Viognier, Roussanne, Vermentino, and Trebianno from vineyards in West Texas, this wine, named for the calcium-rich soils of the land in which it was grown, offers notes of white tea, white peach, and faint orange blossom. The palate is rich and crisp with notes of tangerine and a nice mineral-driven finish.

2016 McPherson Cellars Albariño, $13
Aromas of jasmine, orange blossom, and tropical fruit tease the nose and invite a taste—not to mention it’s gorgeous in the glass. These flavors continue on the palate and offer a bright, dry wine with the faintest perception of sweetness.

2016 McPherson Chenin Blanc, $13
A consistent charmer from this Lubbock-based producer, this Chenin comes from vines with more than 30 years of age in the High Plains that seem to only improve with each years. Rich with notes of yellow apple and daffodil, pear and candied lemon rind, the palate offers tart fruitiness with a bright, lip-smacking one-two punch.

2016 Ron Yates Albariño, $20
This producer, just west of Johnson City, nailed a lovely expression of this Spanish grape variety. Aromas of preserved lemon, early pear, and parsley lead with a kiss of toast either and transitions to a medium-weight palate with peach and lemon pulp on the finish.

2016 William Chris Vineyards Mary Ruth, $28
A signature favorite for William Chris Vineyards in the Hill Country hamlet of Hye, this wine is easy to love. Delivering a lush bouquet of orange blossom, this beautiful summer wine has a bright pallet with vibrant acidity and a touch of orange zest. Though abundantly floral, this one is bone dry and delicious.

 

Rosé

2016 Duchman Family Winery Dry Rosé, $22
It’s always a pleasure to find a great rosé made from a lesser known grape. In this case winemaker Dave Reilly used Aglianico to make a rosé with a little more grip than your average selection. This wine is beautifully structured with notes of cranberry, macerated raspberry, and Maraschino cherry that finishes with notes of dusty earth. Try a grilled steak with this wine and you may never look for a red wine pairing again.

2016 Fall Creek Vineyards Creekside Rosé, $22
There’s nothing bashful about this wine. Rich in color and lush with robust aromas of strawberry, cherry, fleshy apricot, and ripe raspberry, this wine is utterly charming. A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Tempranillo, and Syrah, the flavors on the palate are rich, yet balanced and refreshing. A great wine for that chargrilled burger by the pool—or in this case, the creek.

2016 Lewis Wines Grenache Rosé, $35
Truly an homage to its traditional origins in Southern France, this single variety Grenache rosé comes from the Tio Pancho Ranch Vineyard in the Texas Hill Country. With its faint peachy color this wine leads with a prominence of lemon zest followed by early strawberry in both the aroma and on the palate. The fruit is tart with an underlying persistence of minerality that pleases.

2016 Lewis Wines Estate Rosé, $32
Made from a blend of Tinta Cao and Touriga Nacional from the estate vineyard near Johnson City, this wine was one of the top performers in this evaluation. Lush elements of strawberry, peach, flashy lemon pulp and cranberries translate on the palate as a beautiful balance between opulent fruit and laser-fresh acidity. This wine has a memorable finish that invites you to take another sip—or two.

2016 Lewis Wines High Plains Rosé, $15
Hello, lovely. This blushing wine leads with notes of primrose, supporting aromas conjure up visions of what a waltz between Meyer lemons and forest raspberries might look like. Though the fruit is the star of this show, it is artfully supported by a refined mineral character.

2016 Llano Estacado Signature Rosé, $11
In a pinch, this wine is dependable from vintage to vintage, but in the glass, it’s so much more. A lovely shade of pink, this wine has a flinty, floral character with aromas of a happy field of strawberries and a kiss of fragrant rosemary. Light and balanced, this is a perfect patio wine to sip before dinner, or all through a meal. And at $11, it’s a steal.

2016 McPherson Cellars Les Copains Rosé, $12
This is a festive rosé that celebrates the richness and clarity of red fruits such as cranberry, raspberry, and watermelon, each dusted with a whisper of confectioner’s sugar. The palate is silken with rich, yet tart and dry in the overall finish. A blend of Cinsault, Rolle (Vermentino), and Carignan, this is an easy wine to love.

2016 Ron Yates Sangiovese Rosé, $22
This rosé has a little bit of bite. This wine offers notes of chocolate-covered cherry, raspberry, and lemon pith. The palate is chewy with ripe red fruit and while the finish is dry, there is a perceptible impression of sweetness. Delicious with barbecue.

2016 William Chris Vineyards Rosé of Malbec, $25
Brimming with aromas of knockout roses, sage, and ripe strawberry, this wine plays high on the “wow” factor. Fruity and succulent, the very first sip screams, “Bring on summer!”

Red

2015 Becker Vineyards Petite Sirah, $40
The dark fruit and perceptible chocolate aromas from this wine are framed by an alluring smokiness. On the palate, the fruit is ripe and dusted with dry earth leading to a full, broad palate with notes of black cherry and soft tannin. This popular California grape has a very bright future in Texas.

2014 Brennan Vineyards Tempranillo, $28
Redolent with dark fruit, dark forest floor, green stems, and mushroom, this wine is everything you want in a robust Texas red. On the palate, the fruit is both tart and ripe with assertive tannin, which will certainly soften with a little more time in the cellar. This is big, bold Tempranillo drinks like a Cab.

2015 Fall Creek Vineyards Salt Lick Vineyards Tempranillo, $30
This Tempranillo, harvested from the rich soil’s of the Salt Lake vineyards in Driftwood, is some of the most sought-after fruit in the state. And with good reason. Winemaker, Sergio Cuadra lets the vineyard do the talking with this wine, which results in rich aromas of blackberry and prune. On the palate the fruit mingles with a perception of violet and wet forest floor. This wine is luscious, with a backbone of tannin and a lingering finish of dried fig and baking spice.

2015 Hilmy Cellars Malbec, $40
Deep, inky purple in color, this wine is lush and velvety with rich, ripe black fruit and violets. It’s opulent on the palate, with a complex structure with firm tannin that has softened over time in the bottle. This wine will last a few more years in the cellar, but could easily be enjoyed now.

2013 Lewis Wines Round Mountain Estate Blend, $40
The first notes you get on this wine, ripe blackberries baked in a cobbler, graham crackers, and cocoa dust, beg for another taste. A blend of Touriga Nacional, Tempranillo, and Tinta Cao, this wine is big but very carefully handled in production. The tannin has integrated well over the past few years in bottle. If kept in the cellar, this special wine will deliver for many years to come.

2015 McPherson Cellars Tre Colore, $13
Light and easy, this perfect summer red needs to be at your next barbecue. Aromas of bright cherry and strawberry mingle with vanilla and a hint of baking spice. On the palate, this wine is nimble and fruity with the slightest perception of sweetness.

2015 Pedernales Cellars GSM Mélange, $26
This Pedernales Cellars wine offers aromas of cranberry and raspberry cordial leading to a palate that is both tart and lush. Assertive tanning and dried herbs play well with an enticing earthiness over a full body and lingering finish.

2015 Stone House Vineyards Claros, $30
Made from the Norton grape, a native American variety, this is consistently a crowd pleaser from Stone House vineyards. Dark, and deeply colored, aromas of dark dried plum and fig are reminiscent of powdered clove and savory herbs. Elements of tar, leather, and black pepper lead to a palate, which is ripe with fruit. Rustic with rich complexity and a grippy finish, this is a beautiful wine that could age a few more years in the cellar.

2014 Westcave Cellars Cabernet Franc, $50
This is the kind of wine you enjoy with a cigar around a campfire. Rustic in nature with an “old war” soul, aromas of cigar ash, faint black fruit, dried fig, tar, and forest floor are all present on the palate. Rustic and a little green, this Cabernet Franc is deceptively intriguing.

2015 William Chris Vineyards Hunter, $42
This Merlot and Malbec blend from the Hunter Vineyard in Terry County in the High Plains is always a favorite. Rich with aromas of blackberry, cassis, dried herbs, cinnamon, and cloves, the palate offers a strong backbone of ripe fruit that is framed by sautéed mushroom and hot dust. This wine is peppery on the finish with a strong, well-integrated tannic grip. It only gets better as it opens up in the glass.

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  • Robert Stefani

    If you are looking for one of the best summer wines to drink on one of our warm summer days here in the Texas hill country then you must try the Peach Wine from Georgetown Winery it is by far one of the best sweet wines in all of Texas.

  • Robert Stefani

    Another place of destination to go to is The Thirsty Mule Winery. The owners Dan and Becca Marek are some of the nicest folks you’ll ever meet, beautiful location and most important their wines are wonderful. If you stop by tell them Robert send you, who knows I may be there drinking a glass of their Merlot or cab and would love to here your comments on this hidden gem.