Native to Northwest Spain and Portugal, this white grape produces dry and refreshing, fruity wines with good acidity. It's grown in the Texas High Plains and in higher elevations of the Texas Hill Country, which enjoy cooler night temperatures. Many Texas wineries are making a traditional albariño varietal wine, and a few are using it in white wine blends. Serve albariño with seafood, sushi, grilled vegetables, or as an aperitif. If you like pinot grigio, give it a try.
Blanc du Bois (BLAHNK du bwah)
Blanc du Bois sounds French, but this hardy hybrid was first bred in Florida to resist mold and mildew diseases. Grown in Galveston County and in the Hill Country, it can produce wines that show tropical fruit flavors, ranging in style from dry, to off-dry, to sweet dessert wines. Dry versions of blanc du bois would appeal to sauvignon blanc or pinot grigio drinkers. The semi-sweet versions would please fans of off-dry riesling.
Widely grown in the Rhone and Provence regions of France (and in parts of Spain, where it's known as Monastrell), this grape thrives in hot weather, with proper irrigation. In Texas, mourvedre wines tends to be less tannic than their French counterparts. Texas winemakers have made some stunning roses and reds with mourvedre, and blended grenache and syrah with mourvedre for a classic Rhone blend known by its grape variety initials, GSM. Mourvedre generally shows ripe red fruit, often with spice notes ranging from pepper to baking spices.
Picpoul Blanc (PEEK-pool blahnk)
A white grape from sunny Southwestern France, this little known varietal has shown great promise in Texas, where the disease-resistant grape grows easily. Only two Texas wineries currently make picpoul blanc wine -- Bending Branch and Lost Draw Cellars -- yet the wines' vibrant acidity and refreshing, citrusy -- or fruity -- profile make it an ideal summer patio wine. No wonder this wine has been a quick seller in Texas. Serve it as an aperitif, or pair it with seafood and salty foods. It would appeal to pinot grigio, chablis, and sauvignon blanc drinkers.
Originally from the Southern Rhone Valley, this grape varietal thrives in sunny Texas regions with low-fertility, calcareous soil. Although in France roussanne is typically blended with other grapes, such as marsanne, it shines as a single varietal wine in Texas. Some of the best Texas examples show floral, ripe stone fruit flavors and a honeyed richness. Some are fermented in stainless steel tanks, others barrel aged, for a richer texture. Pass on the Texas chardonnay and try the roussanne instead.
This versatile red grape is one of the most widely planted grapes in Italy, and is famous as the star in chianti, Brunello di Montalcino, and Super Tuscan wines. In Texas, it produces wines with bright fruit, medium tannins, and food-friendly acidity. With each passing year, the roots dig deeper into the dry Texas soil, yielding even better quality fruit than before. Sangiovese is easy to drink on its own, and pairs well with many Italian pasta dishes. In some ways, it's a hot climate answer to pinot noir.
In its native Southwest France, tannat is used as a blending grape; it's also the signature grape of Uruguay. This hardy grape is a natural fit for the Texas Hill Country soil and climate. It produces robust red wines with good tannic structure and an inky color rarely seen in Texas cabernet sauvignon -- where you'd expect to find those traits. Bending Branch Winery has been a pioneer in producing tannat. It's a good choice for fans of big red wines, or for pairing with steak.
This grape is widely planted in sun-baked regions of Spain, as well as Texas. With so many Texas wineries making tempranillo wines, there's a wide range of styles -- from light bodied and fruity with herbal notes, to complex, earthy and tannic.
A favorite white grape in Italy -- especially in Sardinia -- vermentino makes crisp, refreshing Texas wines with lively acidity and citrus notes. That profile -- underscored by a good balance of juicy fruit and acidity -- make it an ideal wine for Texas summer sipping. Several Texas wineries have had great success with this varietal wine.
Viognier grape at Brennan Vineyards in Comanche, Texas(Rebecca Conley / Brennan Vineyards)
This white grape was one of the first Rhone varietals to win gold medals for Texas wineries at prestigious International Wine Competitions. That early success inspired many wineries to produce viognier variteal wines, despite the challenges of growing the grape. The wines generally show ripe peach and floral flavors, often with citrus or mineral notes. They can range from crisp and bone dry, to off-dry with a honeyed richness.