A Texas Winery with Napa Valley History: C.L. Butaud
An Interview with Winemaker, Randy Hester
C.L. Butaud “Boo-Tow” winemaker and owner, Randy Hester, worked for over a decade in Napa Valley for top wineries such as Colgin Cellars and Cakebread Cellars before returning to his native Texas. He and his wife Brooke (who used to work for the celebrated Sonoma winery, Patz & Hall) started C.L. Butaud in 2014. Here are some clips of the interview and wine tasting we did together this month outside of Austin, Texas. See Wine Recommendations below. Click on each link for the entire interview.
About C.L. Butaud Wines
C.L. Butaud has been recognized as a top Texas wine by Texas Monthly, the Texas Department of Agriculture, Austin Monthly, Austin American Statesman, Houston Chronicle, Forbes, “The Twelve Best Wines of 2022” and has been reviewed by Decanter, Wine Advocate, James Suckling, and VinePair, with inclusion in Vine Pair's “50 Best Wines of 2021,” and “30 Best Red Wines to drink in 2022.” The 2017 Tempranillo received a 91-point score by Decanter Magazine. You can find their wines in Texas these restaurants.
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Winemaking in Texas vs. Napa Valley
“You returned from Napa Valley, where you worked at Colgan Cellars and Cakebread Cellars. And your wife worked at Patz & Hall [in Sonoma]. You came back to your native Texas from there with those experiences. What major differences are you seeing between the winemaking/grape growing in Texas and that of Napa Valley?”
“Texas is such a new development [for wine], right? I mean, part of the history [of Texas] is we've been making wine longer than California… In Napa you make a Cab and a Sauvignon Blanc, a Pinot, and a Chard. In Texas we have no boundaries. What I have the privilege of doing is determining what works best here. In all of my research, Tempranillo makes Texas’ most premium red wine. I can pursue what I think grows best here, and then use that high level winemaking to make sure that what comes out in my glass can still stand up on the world stage.”
Wine Tourism: Texas vs. Napa Valley
“The big benefit for you as a winemaker in Texas is you have four large metropolitan areas that are drivable nearby: Dallas, Houston, San Antonio, and Austin. There are more tourists that live near here than say, San Francisco.”
“What we have here in Texas is a lot more casual. When we were living in Napa, and people are traveling from all over the country and all over the world to come to Napa, to taste pretty specific wines. And people might come once a year or every five years… it's nothing for a Texan to get in a car and go for a drive or go for a day trip, or a long weekend. We can reach all these different wineries all across the state. Our tasting room here is in Austin with lots of barbeque nearby….much more casual.”
About the Butaud Family Name and Frenchy
“My great grandfather great grandpa, Clet Louis (C.L.) Butaud was born in 1900 in Abbeville, Louisiana, but the Butauds came over to the US from this little place outside of Dijon, France. Everyone knew him as Frenchy. Frenchy then moved to Beaumont, Texas. So, when it came time to start our second brand, I wanted to really tip my hat to someone who inspired how I live my life. It was pretty easy to put Pa Pa Frenchy on the label, [as an homage to paying respect to centuries of evolution in winemaking.]”
Tasting Notes: This wine was aged for 28 months in 60% new French oak and features complex flavors and aromas of cherry, leather, cedar, and spice…100% Texas grown from Farmhouse Vineyards. This wine rivals any Tempranillo you might find in Spain.
Tasting Notes: This wine is aged on lees (spent yeast) in 2/3 stainless steel/1/3 French oak barrels giving it a creamy texture and softer tannins than most Mourvèdre wines. It has a bright and meaty mouthfeel and cherry chutney flavors.
Tasting Notes: Made of 50/50 Mourvèdre/Grenache grapes, this is a still, pale white wine made from red grapes (a technique often used in the Champagne region for sparkling wine.) It has just a hint of pink color. This wine has aromas of melon and strawberry and has a refreshing acidity.
Tasting Notes: This wine features bright red fruit, raspberries and blueberries, cinnamon spice, fresh plum, dried herbs and soft tannins….a great red wine for the patio or paired with a lighter meat course.
Tasting Notes: This Cinsault-based rosé wine shows a juicy balance of fruit and spice with flavors of watermelon and early season strawberries.
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