This past July marked the fourth (!) anniversary of our great migration south; we had spent sixteen years in Philadelphia but packed it all up and moved to Beverly, er Houston. Prior to 2016, I can honestly say that I never once considered moving to the south, much less to Texas. Four years in? I have to say that I am legitimately disappointed: disappointed that I don’t hate it.
There are numerous reasons to like/love Houston, many of which I have iterated previously in this space. Namely, it is relatively inexpensive to live here, my wife job affords her a much nicer salary than she had in Philadelphia (although my meager “earnings” remain largely unchanged), the food scene is at least on a par with Philly, the wine scene is far superior to our previous situation, and the people here are really nice (yes, many of them have guns, but…).
There is one aspect about life in Houston that I do not like even remotely, however.
This summer, for the most part, had been relatively bearable as I have been able to ride, go to the grocery store (fully masked and practicing physical distancing–although it is painful having to wait as some bozo answers 43 emails in front of the limes), and generally, venture outside for other various tasks and chores (any advice for aphids on milkweed?).
August is only five days old, but it is already it has shown that it will not be fooling around when it comes to the heat and the humidity with each being in the high 90s thus far. This is my first “real” August in Houston as each of the last three years I have been on the road to various wine regions around the world for most of the month.
Not this year.
Instead, I have decided to embrace my time spent in my still “new” home state and explore some of the wines made in Texas, which now has the fourth-largest number of bonded wineries in the country.
These first five wines come from Reddy Vineyards in the Texas High Plains AVA, the second largest of the state’s eight AVA (American Viticultural Areas). The High Plains AVA is located in the Texas panhandle and includes the city of Lubbock, the state’s 11th most populous city (population 255,000 as of 2018) and home to Texas Tech University. The region sits at about 3,500 feet above sea level and is quite dry, thus requiring irrigation.
While there are just a handful of wineries in the appellation, the region supplies around 85% of the state’s fruit (most wineries are in the Texas Hill Country AVA about 5 hours to the south and east). Reddy Vineyards has 38 varieties planted and produces about ten different wines a year.
2019 Reddy Vineyards Rosé Blocks 5 & 18, Texas High Plains, TX: Retail $25. 73% Cinsault, 19% Mourvèdre, 8% Merlot. (Tasted for the Fourth Annual Largest Blind Tasting of American True Rosés.) Light orangish-pink with aromas reminiscent of a Christmas candle. Fruity, but a bit flabby. Good flavors but needs some tartness. Very Good. 87-89 Points.
2019 Reddy Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc Block 55, Texas High Plains, TX: Retail $25. 650 cases made. No matter what the region, $25 is on the high side for a Sauv Blanc, but I dare say that this wine warrants it. Quite light in color, but rich in aromas of citrus, tropical, and tree fruit, this wine is both fruity and tart on the palate. As I begin my foray into Texan wine, this is a strong initial statement. Very Good to Excellent. 89-91 Points.
2019 Reddy Vineyards VMR White Blend, Texas High Plains, TX: Retail $25. 35% Roussanne, 33% Marsanne, 32% Viognier. From my experience, white Rhône varieties outside the region can be harsh, overly floral, particularly fleshy, or any combination therein. Not this wine. While certainly floral on the nose with tropical notes, the palate is full of fruit, particularly tart, and presents a lengthy finish. Quite nice. Excellent. 90-92 Points.
2017 Reddy Vineyards TNT Reddy Vineyard, Texas High Plains, TX: Retail $45. 75% Tempranillo, 25% Touriga Nacional. A bit of a Big Ass Bottle. A blend that you do not see every day, but that is Texas for you–no rules. Quite dark in the glass with aromas of black currant, plum, and blackberry–very fruity. The palate is fruity as well, very fruity. Ripe and fresh but with plenty of balancing acidity and spice (black pepper, clove). I was more than ready to dismiss this wine given its origin, but it is good. Excellent. 91-93 Points.
2015 Reddy Vineyards The Circle, Texas High Plains, TX: Retail $50. The label says “Field Blend” but I could not find the varietal composition. The nose on this medium-dark wine is dominated by red currant and cherry cola. The palate is quite fruity as well, with that red currant, dark (red, black) berry and spice. Good tartness, a bit of heat, but overall very nice. Very Good to Excellent. 89-91 Points.