On a recent trip to San Antonio, I was pleased to discover that Texas is a wine-producing state. I probably should have known that.
During a spectacular lunch of barbacoa and other traditional Mexican foods at Casa Hernan, I had a glass of Becker rosé, which turns out to be a beautiful complement to Mexican and Texas cooking.
The fruity sweetness of the rosé– a 2013 Provencal-- was very well suited to the forward spicing of Mexican food, and the lightness of rosé complements rather than competes with southwestern flavors. This rosé is made from Mourvedre, Grenache and Syrah, which usually go to make red wines. This lighter expression is good for sipping at this time of year.
The appearance of a wine usually doesn't move me much, but there's something about the color of rosé that's light-hearted, festive and suitable for backyard dinners on warm summer nights. In addition, rosé seems to resist somber oenological contemplations of wine characteristics like nose, legs and bouquet (you can definitely analyze those characteristics of rosé, but frequently the wine seems to invite no more than happy quaffing -- and, really, that's enough).
Sweetness has become a wine characteristic that many say they don't like. Used to be, some really bad wines were sweet, and with the tendency of the American palate to prefer overly sweet foods, the "sweet" character of wines came to be despised by those who were trying to appreciate better wines. But there's nothing inherently wrong with sweetness in a wine, and when pairing with spicier food (Texas, Mexican, Thai, etc.), a little sweetness is a good thing. A rosé will frequently be sweeter than a red, but as long as the sweetness is controlled, and not overwhelming, a "sweet" wine can be very enjoyable. You can even enjoy it without food, which cannot be said for some heftier wines.
The Becker winery is in the Texas Hill Country, which seems a preferred wine region in the state, has been around since only 1992. Becker does maintain an extensive vineyard, but like many smaller wineries in states like Illinois, Michigan and Nebraska (oh yeah, they do exist) it's likely that some portion of the juice comes in from states that are more abundant producers of grapes (like Washington or California). Indeed, this practice of procuring grapes or (more usually) just their juice from other producers is not limited to states that are not traditional wine producers: even some of the finest winemakers in Washington and California source juice from vineyards other than their own.
At under $20 a bottle, this 2013 Provencal from Becker is much more than a novelty; it's a value. And because so much of the enjoyment of wine comes from the story behind it, Becker wine from Texas is an interesting story to relate over a glass, in part because it demonstrates that good wine can be found in some unlikely places.