Pheasant Ridge is again under the ownership of its original owner and winemaker Bobby Cox, and this is a winery in Texas to watch. It demonstrates a lesson in winery success and in my opinion, is an underrated Texas Winery. Soil is an essential and irreplaceable element of terroir and Cox originally selected this land with great care as an initial priority. Terroir will determine the parameters of a wine and the choice of land here is an obvious favorable foundation to the wines.
The wines from the Pheasant Ridge vineyard demonstrate a consistency of potential. Here are some initial notes from a tasting of their wines in December of 2017.
Pheasant Ridge 1993 Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve:
Although near the point of its decline, this wine is still amazingly healthy (in comparison to other Cabs I’ve tried from the Texas High Plains) and very rewarding at this age. The oak is a fraction dominant, but the dark side of blackcurrant’s profile is still well entrenched. The tannins are smooth and apparent and are well integrated — a testimony to this variety’s finding a true home in the Pheasant Ridge vineyards. Rating: 89.
An impressive vertical of their Cabs reveals this is a unique spot for Cabernet Sauvignon in the high plains and firmly demonstrates the presence of the raw material for great winemaking.
Pheasant Ridge 1993 Pinot Noir – An Eye-Opener!
The depth of fruit in this Pheasant Ridge Pinot Noir is still solidly holding its ground and at 13.8% alcohol, it shows no signs of sliding over the hill yet. I detected strawberry (as expected); raspberry and blackcurrant notes are wonderfully balanced with coffee, leather and a hint of cedar, which begin the influence of oak that deepens into vanilla, clove and spice, and perhaps a touch of nutmeg. The vines are 40 years old and I have not tasted anywhere in Texas such an impressive Pinot Noir. Rating: 89 (But earlier in its history it may have well rated 93).
Pheasant Ridge 2015 Chenin Blanc:
Another of the noble grapes finds a home here, too. The Pheasant Ridge 2015 Chenin Blanc is a high award winner, and rightly so. Many awards mean little, but this one deserves the highest and I would rate it a 91. Varietal, fresh and vibrant, rich and full with a distinctive touch of ripe pear. It liked its residence in American oak and displays a complimentary wood edge on the finish. It’s the best white wine I have tasted in Texas wineries and one that will stand up to Chenin Blancs across the country.
Again, watch this winery and especially the return of the original owner to winemaker.
C. S. Vin
Author and originator of the wine evaluation course, Experiencing Wine’s Wonders.