You call yourself a locavore. You like to eat what’s grown nearby — not only to follow the seasons but also to support your fellow Texans. Maybe you want to support local wineries too, but you don’t know where to start.
Enter Texas Wine Journal, which is devoted to building awareness for Texas wine through independent, credible, and objective ratings. That means the journal relies on consensus, rather than the opinion of a single taster, to make recommendations.
The journal held its first tasting in December 2013. It now packages all ratings from the year in a consumer-friendly, best-of list broken down by varietal. CultureMap has partnered with the Texas Wine Journal to publish its panel's picks for 2015.
“In no other time in our 360-plus year history of making wine in Texas have the wines been better, more expressive, more rooted to their place, and more appreciated and sought after,” says tasting director Daniel Kelada.
“The industry is advancing at every level. Growers both big and small are not just farming grapevines, they are wine growing. And producers are simply crafting better wines, with better quality fruit, better understanding, better tools and resources, and more experience.”
The TWJ scores range from 75-100, and wines are rated as average, good, very good, excellent, and extraordinary; only wines scoring 80 points or higher are published. In addition to pointed ratings, consumer ratings are provided in the form of “recommended” and “highly recommended” wines. The complete methodology is available on the Texas Wine Journal website, as is a list of judges.
CultureMap is presenting the list of the best Texas wines of 2015 in four batches, with the top three in two varietals per batch.
A caveat about where to buy and price information: Some of these are sold out, or they are available only at select locations of the places mentioned. Plus, the price can vary. But this gives you a good idea about where to start. Wine retailers from around Texas are mentioned.
First up: Syrah and Viognier. In cases where the wines received the same number of points, they are presented in alphabetical order.
Lost Oak Winery, Texas Shiraz, Gold Label, NV
92 points, $30
This wine is a bit closed at first but opens with air, says Jim Cubberley, who also calls it “chewy,” “intense,” “balanced,” and “classically structured.” It’s a full-bodied wine, but it’s not heavy.
Where to buy: This one is sold out, but a new vintage is coming this summer.
Perissos Vineyard & Winery, Texas Hill Country, Estate Syrah, 2013
91 points, $68
This well-made wine is “just plain delicious,” according to Jim Cubberley. Although not the most complex, this Syrah is “nicely concentrated, slightly floral, with juicy black plum and blackberry fruit.” A lack of oak “adds to the allure.”
Where to buy: Houston Wine Merchant (Houston), The Vintage Cellar (Fredericksburg)
Salt Lick Cellars, Texas Hill Country, Maile’s Vineyard, Syrah, 2013
89 points, $55
“This is a rare and exceptional expression of Texas Syrah,” writes Jennifer Beckman in her tasting notes. Aromatics of flowers and baking spice are followed by flavors of rich blackberry, anisette, white pepper, and earthy wet soil.
Where to buy: Spec’s, Total Wine
Blue Ostrich Winery, Texas, Viognier, 2014
91 points, $22
“A brilliant pair for warm weather,” writes Rae Wilson, who also notes the wine’s pale straw color, clean tropical fruit, hints of aromatic garden herbs, and flinty texture.
Where to buy: Checkered Past Winery (Dallas), Wine Styles (Keller, Mansfield, Flower Mound), Metzler’s (Denton), Silver Dollar Winery (Bedford)
Lost Oak Winery, Texas High Plains, Bingham Family Vineyard, Viognier, 2014
91 points, $21
“Don’t let the light, clear color of this wine fool you,” writes Jim Cubberley. “This Viognier is definitely the fuller-bodied style.” He goes on to note flavors of stone fruits, honey, and minerals, with a fine acidity that balances the richness. He suggests pairing with cold soups or ceviche.
Where to buy: It is currently sold out but will be rebottled.
McPherson Cellars, Texas, Viognier, 2014
91 points, $16
In his tasting notes, Rob Moshein remarks that this wine has a pretty, floral nose and flavors of rich, peach-toned fruit. He also notes a nice viscosity, bright acids, full flavors, and long finish.
Where to buy: Spec’s, H-E-B, Central Market, Whole Foods, Total Wine
Coming up next: white blends and red blends.