People aren't the only ones who suffer through hot Texas summers. Grapes feel the scorch as well, which means the state's not the place to produce varietals that wither in the heat. After years of stubborn experimentation with Pinot Noir and other delicate grapes, the Texas wine industry now realizes our weather is better suited for varietals such as Shiraz, Grenache and Sangiovese.
Ruby Cabernet grapes were engineered especially for hot-weather climes. Ruby Cab is a cross between Cabernet Sauvignon and heat-tolerant Carignan, developed in 1936 by Dr Harold Olmo at UC Davis. Ruby Cabernet - better known for its ability to resist drought than its quality -- is an important component of Texoma Winery's Texas Tasting Three Step, a delightful blend of Cabernet, Merlot, and Ruby Cabernet that I sampled in the GO TEXAN wine garden at the State Fair.
Three Steps color is indeed ruby, but a lighter, more playful shade of red than the gemstone. Cherries and spice hit your nose right away, with a slight whiff of tobacco. Lots of cherries and berries wash the palate, plus black pepper, and the finish is a touch of leather.
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If you fancy tasting Three Step and can't make it to the fair, Texoma Winery is pouring every Saturday at the Dallas Farmers Market Shed 2 from 11AM to 4PM. Or you can drive an hour up US 75 North to Whitewright and try it at the Texoma Winery. But be sure to call first and let them know you're coming: Tasting hours are by appointment only, and you want to make sure that they're ready to three step by the time you get there.