By Nan McCreary
The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo™ has announced the winners of the 2020 Rodeo Uncorked!® International Wine Competition just in time for the holidays.
With parties, holiday feasts and gift exchanges, this year’s standouts offer a plethora of opportunities to wine lovers and novices alike. These wines topped all others in a contest that featured 3,528 entries from 18 countries, including France, Spain, Bulgaria, Italy, Israel, Argentina and South Africa.
Texas wineries represented 489 entries, and 232 entries came from this year’s featured region: Mendoza, Argentina.
When making your shopping lists, consider these wines, not only to support the Show, but to share award-winning favorites with friends and family.
Grand Champion Best of Show:
Piper-Heidsieck Brut, Champagne, NV
Nothing says “holidays” like a glass of bubbly. Serve it as an aperitif, an accompaniment to food (champagne goes with just about everything), a palate cleanser after a big meal or just because. Wine Spectator says, “This mouthwatering champagne, with a fine mousse, offers juicy flavors of plum, candied grapefruit zest, ground ginger and pastry. Vibrant and expressive.”
Reserve Grand Champion Best of Show: Cavaliere d'Oro Bellezza, Chianti Classico Gran Selezione DOCG, 2015
This quintessential Italian wine, made entirely with Sangiovese, is the crème de la crème of Tuscany’s Chianti Classico portfolio. As a “Gran Selizione” wine, is it made of grapes harvested only from the winery’s own vineyards, with upgraded requirements for alcohol, extraction, and aging. For those who like to celebrate the holidays — or a cozy winter night — with an Italian feast featuring a tomato-based marinara sauce, this wine will truly accentuate your efforts in the kitchen.
Top Texas Wine: Bingham Family Vineyards Dugout Red, Texas High Plans, 2017
This wine is a 100 percent Texas grown and crafted estate wine, offering the fullest expression of the Texas High Plains. The Dugout Bordeaux blend is named after the first generations of the Bingham family that settled in the High Plains in the early 1900s. The wine is a crowd favorite and a perfect accompaniment for the hosts who serve a prime rib roast as the centerpiece of their holiday dinners.
Top Sparkling Wine: Freixenet Cordon Negro Brut, Spain, NV
Sparkling wines come in many flavors: Champagnes and Crémants (France) and Proseccos and Franciacortas (Italy). And then there are Cavas, the signature sparkling wines from Spain.
This is Freixenet’s most popular Cava and is the number one imported sparkling wine in the world. The wine is crisp, clean and well balanced. It pairs well with any food or any occasion.
Top White Wine: Chateau Ste. Michelle Dry Riesling, Columbia Valley, 2018
Riesling is truly one of the world’s greatest food wines and can complement just about everything on your holiday table. This wine is a blend of Rieslings from throughout Washington State’s Columbia Valley and, according to the winemaker, offers crisp apple aromas and flavors with subtle mineral notes.
Top Red Wine: Revelry Vintners D11 Cabernet Sauvignon, Dionysus Vineyard, Columbia Valley, 2015
It’s no coincidence that this year’s winners include two wines from Washington’s Columbia Valley. The state is a young and emerging wine region, with production doubling in the past decade and its cabernet sauvignons, in particular, are giving Napa cabs a run for their money. Revelry describes this wine as “incredibly rich and full, with a dense and velvety finish, with aromatics of dark fruit compote that courses throughout.” This is the perfect pairing for a prime rib roast or a New Year’s Eve Chateaubriand.
Top Region Wine: Mi Terruño Mayacaba Malbec, Mendoza, 2015
This wine is from Lujan de Cuyo, a premiere growing sub-region in Mendoza, this year’s featured wine region. Malbec is a medium to full-bodied red wine, but has softer tannins than its red counterparts such as Cabernet Sauvignon, which means it goes well with lean cuts of beef, as well as chicken, lamb or pork. Versatile and delicious, this wine can also be enjoyed on its own.
Top Dessert Wine: Inniskillin Gold Vidal Icewine, Niagara Peninsula VQA, 2017
Ice wine is a type of dessert wine produced from grapes that have been frozen while still on the vine. It’s crisp, cool and delicious. Aromatics of tropical fruit including mango and orange dominate the wine, while on the palate, fruit flavors including peach, nectarine and lemon are balanced by crisp, lively acidity.
According to the producers, this wine is perfect on its own or with a variety of cheeses (blue-veined, aged cheddar, rich cream cheeses with dried fruits), seared scallops, lobster, rich pates, and fruit based desserts.
Top Value Wine: Raywood Merlot, Central Coast, 2017
Raywood Vineyards wines are produced by Castoro Cellar, a highly-rated winery in Paso Robles. The Raywood Merlot delivers lovely plum and blueberry fruit, soft tannins and immediate pleasure at a fantastic price. This wine pairs with a roasted meat or vegetable dishes or, for a real treat, try it with your favorite barbecued steak recipe!