I recently visited the Georgetown Winery, which is north of Austin on the San Gabriel Wine Trail. It has a quaint storefront on the beautiful downtown square in Georgetown, Texas, and it's a comfortable place to stop and taste.
The most interesting wine I tasted there was Lenoir. Lenoir is a grape, also known as Black Spanish or Jaquez, which is native to the U.S. and grows well in Texas due to its natural resistance to phylloxera and Pierce's disease. It is a hybrid of two other grapes - one from the species Vitis aestivalis and one from Vitis vinifera (the species of most international wine grapes). Many Texas wineries produce wine from Lenoir, to varying degrees of success.
I enjoyed Georgetown Winery's take on Lenoir. The wine has a medium ruby color, with aromas of blackberry, cranberry, spice, herbs, earth, and vanilla. It's initially fruity on the palate, but then develops a slightly tart, bitter edge, which balances the fruit. It reminded me of the vegetal/green pepper notes that Cabernet Sauvignon sometimes has. This Lenoir has moderate tannin and moderate-to-high acid.
Georgetown sources over 65% of its grapes from Texas and about 35% from other places, primarily California. Here are my notes on the other wines I tasted. (When I make tasting notes, I use a 4-star scale for how much I liked the wine.)
- Tempranillo – Dry red with full body, aromas of red and black fruits, spice, potting soil, and vanilla. (***1/2)
- Cowboy Red – Dry red with full body, aromas of red and black fruits, blended from 75% Malbec (from California) and 25% Tempranillo. (***1/2)
- Super Big Texan – Dry red with aromas of blackberry, cranberry, and vanilla. Tart on the palate, with moderate-to-high acid, moderate tannin, and high alcohol. Blended from 70% Sangiovese, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Merlot. (***)
- Cabernet Sauvignon – Dry red with full body, aromas of black currant, black pepper, tobacco, and cloves. Blended from 75% Cabernet Sauvignon and 25% Shiraz. (***)
- Portejas – A sweet red Port-style wine, fortified with brandy, and made from Red Zinfandel grapes. It's very strong at 21% alcohol, but fruity and smooth. (***)
- Chocolate Cherry Port – In the style of a ruby Port with chocolate flavoring added. (***)
- Texas Twister – A dry white that tasted mostly like apple juice with some vegetal characteristics and moderate-to-high acid. (**)
Georgetown Winery makes more wines than I tasted. Here's the full list with prices. Locally, I believe we can only buy the blueberry and peach wines. But Georgetown makes an easy day trip from Houston, so I encourage you to visit and taste for yourself. Also keep your eyes peeled for Lenoir/Black Spanish from other Texas wineries. It's an interesting grape with a lot of potential.