Wine of the Week

2005 Becker Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve

Wine of the Week

Texas wines have made incredible strides over the last 10 years. I regularly get asked to do double-blind comparative tastings throughout the U.S., where I'll brown-bag a Cabernet Sauvignon or a Viognier from Texas and put it up against brown-bagged wines from France, Australia, California, and South America. Not even I know which is which, and I always invite local experts and the audience to participate.

The reason for brown-bagging the wines is that people carry preconceived notions about where the best wines come from. Few believe Texas belongs in the running. But if they don't know which is which, they have to judge the wines solely on merit.

One of the wines that wins most often is Becker Vine­yards' Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve. For the last few years, Becker Vineyards has been buying the fruit for their wine from what would be classed a grand cru vineyard, if there were such a thing in Texas. Neal Newsom's farm southwest of Lub­bock consistently provides such good grapes that almost any winemaker can make stellar wine from them.

Of course, Becker's winemaker isn't just any winemaker. After a career as the assistant winemaker at Flora Springs in Napa, Russell Smith returned to Texas to make Texas wine. For years he worked at the Twin Liquors in West Lake Hills, then headed out to Becker Vine­yards at night to make their wines. Owner Richard Becker has turned out to be one of the savviest businessmen in Texas wine, plowing all profits back into the business. Recently, he hired Smith full-time at Becker, and the next few years should see what's already a great winery get even better.

The 2005 Becker Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve ($24.95) is one of the best Cabs ever produced in Texas. How good? If the label said Napa, it would cost $150. And the Napa analogy isn't far off. This wine has the fruity richness and endless complexity you always hope to find in a Napa version. At its price, it is a spectacular bargain.

Becker wines are available all over town, though you might have to special order this one. And remember, the winery is just 60 to 90 minutes from most parts of Austin and well worth the trip.

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Becker Vineyards, 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon

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