Wine Reviews: C.L. Butaud’s Texas Wines

Posted by | Posted in Wine Reviews | Posted on 03-18-2023

Today we’re taking a trip down the wine road less traveled  (at least by me) – Texas. I’m not going to make any broad generalizations about Texas, as it so huge and diverse and the tropes fall flat. I lived there for a year as a teenager, before I knew about wine, and have made somewhat frequent trips since. But I’ve yet to tour the Texas High Plains wine country and other areas, or dig deeply into producers across the state who have been laying the groundwork for decades now.

As an outsider, I’ve enjoyed a few of the Texas wines I’ve managed to find. But a proper trip is in order for me to get a better handle on things — long drives, visiting with winemakers, walking through vineyards, and perhaps adding on some rock climbing or hunting. This is all making me nostalgic for Texas, and the wines from C.L. Butaud were a great reminder to keep up with wines from the Lone Star State.

Houston native Randy Hester kicked off his first Texas vintage in 2014, after working in the wine industry for years, including at Cakebread and with a host of renowned winemakers. They take a low sulfite approach, use some whole clusters in their fermentation, and produce wines with a unique spice and appeal. While these wines are very distinct, I was reminded of Arizona wines (with which I have much more experience) in the sense that, when tasting them I get this earthy nuance that makes me want to visit the land itself. To get my feet in the dirt and hands on the rocks.

This was my first time with this producer, and it won’t be my last. These wines were received as trade samples and tasted sighted.

2021 C.L. Butaud Pa Pa Frenchy Red USA, Texas, Texas High Plains
SRP: $18
Vibrant ruby color. The nose is so alive, spicy, and inviting, with deep cherries, sweet raspberries, red plums, along with violets, cloves, mesquite, pepper, some leathery spice. On the palate, there’s a chewy feel with smooth tannins and surprisingly fresh acidity. The juicy strawberry and red plum fruit is fresh and crisp, backed with notes of rhubarb, cola, white pepper, leather, some smoked meats. There’s a lot in here to parse through, but it maintains such a fun, fresh, crushable appeal. Highly recommended if you like this style. A blend of West Texas Grenache with 20% Mourvedre and 20% Tempranillo, aged for 10 months in old French oak and stainless steel. Winemaker Randy Hester’s homage to his great-grandfather, it’s a fitting tribute and a delightful wine. (88 points IJB)

2020 C.L. Butaud Tempranillo USA, Texas, Texas High Plains
SRP: $54
Deep ruby color. The nose shows a deep mix of roasted plums and figs, warm clay, creosote, some sage, pepper – a lot of those higher elevation desert vibes are so evident in these aromas. The palate sports a chewy feel with smooth tannins and medium acidity, along with jammy red and black cherries and plums. Notes of toffee, cola, dark chocolate, spiced black tea and anise add complexity. Juicy and deep, give it air and pair with some barbecue, and this will work wonders. All Tempranillo, aged in new and used French oak and stainless steel. (89 points IJB)

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2021 C.L. Butaud Blanc de Noir USA, Texas
SRP: $48
The palates copper color imaginable. The aromas pop with tons of flowers and dandelion, along with crunchy white cherries and red apple peel, and there are also these cool tobacco, mint, and sliced cucumber elements. The palate sports crunchy acidity on a medium-bodied, steely frame. Flavors of white cherries and tart green apple mix well with notes of white pepper, basil, and dandelion flowers. This is a ton of fun and has a lot of versatile pairing potential. A 50/50 blend of Grenache Noir and Mourvedre, whole cluster pressed and aged on the lees in stainless steel for five months. (90 points IJB)

2021 C.L. Butaud Mourvèdre USA, Texas, Texas High Plains
SRP: $30
Dark ruby color. The nose is spicy and jammy with a cool mix of raspberry, cranberry relish, with notes of bay leaf, pepper, warm clay, leather – lots going on. The palate shows a mix of chewy tannins and tangy acidity, with generous red plum, cherry and raspberry fruit. I love the vibrant rose tones, the white pepper, with notes of chewing tobacco and anise. This is really fun, crunchy, and spicy, but shows a depth of feel and a savory complexity that is really nice. From two vineyard sites, this includes 30% whole cluster, aged in stainless steel and used French oak. Mourdvedre fans should check this out if they can! (90 points IJB)

Comments (1)

  1. Great story!