Road Trip: Texas



By John ~ May 9th, 2008.

Our Texas wine tour consisted of visits to a couple of wineries just south of Lubbock, Cap*Rock Winery and Llano Estacado Winery. Prior to this trip, my only experience with Texas wines were with Texas Hill Country wineries west of Austin and one winery near Bryan/College Station. Quite frankly, those wineries had not shown me much. Our experience this time was much better.

Based on our experiences during this road trip, I would say that Texas wines are the best of Southwest wines, better than the wines in either Arizona or New Mexico. And as I guess should be expected in Texas, the tasting room personnel were super-friendly. We had to be careful to evaluate only Texas wines produced from Texas grapes because both wineries had some wines that did not qualify as true Texas wine.

20080509_caprock.jpgOur first visit was to Cap*Rock Winery, where we received the VIP treatment for almost two hours from their winemaker, Alberto Marchetto, without him being aware that we write a wine blog. Cap*Rock has annual production of about 13,000 cases with most distribution within the state of Texas.

While their best wine by far was a wine made with imported Italian grapes, the 2003 Il Pralongo Amarone della Valpolicella, they had a couple of decent Texas wines, the NV Cap*Rock Palo Duro Canyon Red (a Merlot-Cabernet blend) and the 2005 Cap*Rock Cabernet Sauvignon. Other Texas wines we tasted were the 2005 Cap*Rock Merlot and the 2005 Cap*Rock Chardonnay.

20080509_llanoestacado.jpgNext we visited Llano Estacado, one of the oldest and largest Texas wineries, with annual production of about 150,000 cases. Their wines are fairly widely distributed, especially within Texas, and are also available through their online store. At Llano Estacado, we tasted six Texas wines; the best was a 2006 Llano Estacado Cellar Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon. We found a 2005 vintage of this wine, which might be even better, down the road at a beverage store for $16. We also thought very highly of their 2002 Llano Estacado 30th Anniversary Port which is only available at the tasting room.

The other Texas wines we tasted from their impressive lineup were the NV Llano Estacado Cellar Select Port, the 2005 Llano Estacado Cabernet Sauvignon, the 2006 Llano Estacado Cellar Reserve Chardonnay, and the 2006 Llano Estacado Sauvignon Blanc.

Here’s a recap of the wines we tasted in Texas, in our order of preference. All prices given are winery/tasting room prices.

2003 Il Pralongo Amarone della Valpolicella
Quality: 4.5 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 4 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Price: $49.50

2006 Llano Estacado Cellar Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon
Quality: 4 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 5 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Price: $22

2005 Llano Estacado Cellar Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon
Quality: 4 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 5 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Price: $16

2002 Llano Estacado 30th Anniversary Port (full bottle)
Quality: 4 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 5 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Price: $60

NV Llano Estacado Cellar Select Port (full bottle)
Quality: 3.5 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 5 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Price: $22

2005 Llano Estacado Cabernet Sauvignon
Quality: 3.5 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 5 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Price: $14

2006 Llano Estacado Cellar Reserve Chardonnay
Quality: 3.5 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 4 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Price: $22

NV Cap*Rock Palo Duro Canyon Red: 85% Merlot, 15% Cabernet Sauvignon.
Quality: 3 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 5 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Price: $13

2005 Cap*Rock Cabernet Sauvignon
Quality: 3 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 5 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Price: $15

2005 Cap*Rock Merlot
Quality: 2 stars (out of 5)
QPR: NR (not recommended)
Price: $15

2005 Cap*Rock Chardonnay
Quality: 2 stars (out of 5)
QPR: NR (not recommended)
Price: $15

2006 Llano Estacado Sauvignon Blanc
Quality: 2 stars (out of 5)
QPR: NR (not recommended)
Price: $9

Have you ever tasted any true Texas wines? What was your impression? Were they from Hill Country or West Texas wineries?


Filed under: American Wine, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Dessert Wine, Five-Bangs For Your Buck Wines, Italian Wine, Merlot, Port, Red Wine, Sauvignon Blanc, Texas Wine, White Wine, Wine Travel, Wines NOT To Buy (1 & 2 Star), Wines Over $25, Wines Under $10, Wines Under $15, Wines Under $20, Wines Under $25

Reader's Comments

  1. Anonymous | May 13th, 2008 at 9:18 am

    My experience with TX “wine” was quite different from yours. I used quotation marks around the word wine because the items we tasted a few weeks ago should not qualify as such. This said, I am glad that you identified decent TX wine for us to try and look forward to tasting them myself to see if they can change my current opinion…

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