The San Francisco International Wine Competition is widely regarded as the toughest wine competition in America. That makes it doubly meritorious for Bending Branch Winery of Comfort, Texas to have won a double gold medal for their 2010 ‘Newsom Vineyard’ Cabernet Sauvignon from the Texas High Plains. Of 393 medal winners in the intensely competitive Cabernet Sauvignon category, 24 received double gold medals (6% of the category). In placing so high, Bending Branch ranked above a host of more familiar names from California, as well as wines from as far away as Australia. The organizers of the competition confirmed that there has not been another Texas Cabernet Sauvignon awarded a double-gold in the last 16 years of the competition.
Credit for the award must be divided between the Newsom family, which has created what is probably the most awarded vineyard in the state (and from which there is a multi-year wait for grapes by wineries), and the people behind Bending Branch including John Young, the winemaker, and John Rivenburgh, V.P. of winery viticultural operations.
The production if this wine is extremely limited, with only 15 cases produced. The best place to obtain it is from the winery’s web site, from which I expect it to sell out within days. After that, a few perspicacious restaurant sommeliers bought it before the award (e.g. Bohanan’s) and may still have some on their lists. They doubtless bought when the retail price of this wine was $30 – it is now $100.
The broader significance of this award is that it is another permanent marker of the march by Texas wine up the quality scale.
In another category in which Texas shows promise, Viognier, Flat Creek Estate, Brennan Vineyards, and Pedernales Cellars all earned silver medals and Grape Creek Vineyard, Spicewood Vineyards and Lost Oak Winery all earned bronze.
In the White Rhone category Brennan Vineyards, Blue Ostrich Winery and Bending Branch all received bronze medals.