by Fred McMillin
for November 2, 1999

 

Texas Talk

 

Prologue

"How about an article on the up and coming wine producing state of-----Texas!"

...Readers Misty and John Wales

OK. Let's get it on. Today's winery is the state's first to be set up after Prohibition... Llano Estacado (yah-noh). How's it doing when compared to other Texas producers?

This Dallas Morning News piece has the answer.
"Experts Name the Tops in Texas"...The top two wines:

  • Llano Estacado Chardonnay
  • Llano Estacado Signature Red

    We covered the Chardonnay in the WineDay article titled "The Vines of Texas Are Upon You."

    It put Texas on the American wine map when the Chardonnay won a DOUBLE GOLD at Anthony Dias Blue's prestigious San Francisco International Wine Fair. So today, we'll examine the red.


    Llano's Signature Red

    Llano Estacado wine barrels Winemaker Greg Bruni has made "the first Texas wine to be accepted into the prestigious Meritage Society." I've just tasted the '96, a three-variety blend of Merlot and the two Cabernets, Franc and Sauvignon. When do we harvest them?


    Harvest Date

    In general, winemakers like weather that lets the grape mature slowly. Does the warm Texas climate ripen Greg's red-wine grapes earlier than on the West Coast? Here are some 1996 picking dates for Cabernet Sauvignon.

    • Oct. 8 to 16—Washington (Canoe Ridge Vineyard)
    • Oct. 1—Paso Robles (Roudon-Smith)
    • Sept. 30 to Oct. 5—Sonoma Valley (Carmenet)
    • Sept. 26 to Oct. 21—Knights Valley (Beringer)
    • Sept. 23—Amador County (Shenandoah Vineyards)
    • Sept. 12—West Texas (LIANO ESTACADO)

    So Greg had a few less weeks of hang time, but he successfully compensated by adding complexity with 10 months in medium-toast American oak (see photo). If you like to learn about wine, then you MUST try a bottle of this Llano, since it is only NINE BUCKS. You can't learn about Meritage blends for any less, according to my price lists.
    Contact—Phone (806) 745-2258, FAX (806) 748-1674


    Postscript

    Texas has lots of braggin' rights in the world of wine. Here are two.

  • Spanish missionaries made wine in Texas nearly two centuries before they made the first wine in California.
  • At last count, Texas has 14 more different species of native grapes than does California.

     
    About the Writer

    Fred McMillin, a veteran wine writer, has taught wine history for 30 years on three continents. He currently teaches wine courses at San Francisco State and San Francisco City College. In 1995, the Academy of Wine Communications honored Fred with one of only 22 Certificates of Commendation awarded to American wine writers.

     
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