Wine of the Week: A Rosé from the Texas Hill Country

Categories: Wine Time

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The more I read about Texas Hill Country winemaker and San Antonio endocrinologist Richard Becker, the more I am intrigued. Any doctor-cum-vintner who quotes readily from one of my favorite 20th-century American poets, Wallace Stevens, sounds like someone who puts more thought into the art and science of winemaking than just a desire to attain commercial glory and rich man's bragging rights.

Many have called Becker's wines "the best in Texas," and they were often served in the governor's mansion and White House by Bush redux. (Few remember that it was a Texan president, Lyndon B. Johnson, who banned foreign-raised wines from official functions in our country's capital, forcing his successor, Richard Nixon, to drink his beloved Bordeaux in secret.) And although governor Perry has not officially revealed his favorite wine, he is said to have served Becker's wines at his son's rehearsal dinner.

Becker's 2010 Provençal Tallent Vineyard Mourvèdre was one of the wines that impressed me when leading Texas wine expert Russ Kane poured a flight of his favorite Texas wines for Backstreet Café wine director Sean Beck and me a few weeks ago. As I've written here, the balanced vegetative cycle of the 2010 vintage in Texas is considered to be one of the best in recent memory, and it delivered clean wines like this one, notable for their fresh aromas and bright acidity.

When Russ first opened the Becker Provençal, it was a little bit stinky on the nose (think rotten eggs). A little funk is not necessarily a bad thing. It's often caused, as I believe it was in this case, by what we call reduction in wine parlance, i.e., the absence of oxygen in the bottle. As famed Californian winemaker Randall Grahm said to me a few weeks ago, "reduction is kind of like the male libido: It's ugly but it also tells us that everything is working correctly." (For a description of how reduction works, see this Wiki entry.) The aroma quickly blew off and gave way to fresh notes of red and stone fruit. And with judiciously low alcohol (12.39 percent, according to the zealously precise label) and bright acidity, this wine would have paired gloriously with chilled shellfish salads or classic guacamole.

I've never met Dr. Becker, but if the wine is a reflection of the man, I imagine that I'd enjoy discussing the finer points of winemaking and poetry with him. Now, if he can quote from Auden, he'll really impress me...



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12 comments
jass85
jass85

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Christina Uticone
Christina Uticone

Finally got to crack into my bottle of this lovely, inexpensive ($8.91 at Spec's!) wine. At first it's all strawberries, but after warming up in the glass for a bit the peaches and pears come out. I was surprised at the body--it's a bit unctuous for a rose! But again, that's after the temperature warms up slightly. I love it. Nice sipping wine for summer, and I'm looking forward to tasting it against a dry French rose I picked up because dammit, there's always a guy at Spec's to talk me into a 2nd bottle.

Roy Schneider
Roy Schneider

Christina the Finger Lakes Rieslings have come so far in the last few years. They are among some of the best in the US. 

Christina Uticone
Christina Uticone

I'm a Becker fan but lately I've been homesick and thus sticking to Finger Lakes wines. I may have to grab a bottle of this tonight.

Corey
Corey

Good choice, my bosses sell their grapes from their vinyard to Becker.. The 2007 Prairie Rotie is amazingly good. 

Christina Uticone
Christina Uticone

I grew up doing the wine trails on the weekend. It was such a cheap way to catch a buzz! Little did I know how lucky I was to be drinking such fine wines. The Tasting Room carries Konstantine Frank, but we usually pick some up when we go home, or take advantage of free shipping deals when they come along. We love the really dry Gewurztraminers, too.

Jeremy Parzen
Jeremy Parzen

Great wines from the Finger Lakes these days... :) 

Jeremy Parzen
Jeremy Parzen

I liked the Prairie Rotie as well and I'll post about it later this month. It's definitely one of the best wines made in Texas. Do you work for Tallent in Mason? Everyone talks about the granitic soils there. What can you tell us about the growing sites? Thanks in advance! 

Christina Uticone
Christina Uticone

I got sucked into a major cuddle with my dog last night but I'm heading out now!

Corey
Corey

My bosses (The Martins) own Martin VInyards which correctly stated is the Texas High Plains and one of the oldest vinyards in Texas having been planted in 1976, I'm just the IT director for their research company here in Houston/Galleria area...

Jeremy Parzen
Jeremy Parzen

I think the grapes for the rosé come from the Tallent vineyard in Mason. Texas High Plains are definitely the top growing zone. Thanks for the info... :) 

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