By Nan McCreary
The coming holidays are filled with traditions, one being the seasonal dilemma of “Which wine am I going to serve with this dinner, that party or just to friends who will be stopping by for an evening?”
Well, look no further than the winners from the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo™ 2022 Rodeo Uncorked!® International Wine Competition. These wines topped all others in a contest that featured 2,862 entries from 17 countries, including France, Spain, Italy, Israel, Peru, Argentina and South Africa. Of those entries, 480 entries were from Texas wineries, and 203 entries came from this year’s featured region, Washington State, an established wine-growing region with a reputation for excellence in wine production. When making your shopping lists, consider these wines, not only to support the Rodeo, but to share award-winning favorites with friends and family.
Grand Champion Best of Show – J. Lohr Vineyards Cuvee PAU Red, Paso Robles, 2017
We Texans love our red wines! This year’s winning wine is a limited release Bordeaux-style blend grown in Paso Robles. Inspired by the Grand Cru wines of the Pauillac District of Bordeaux, the wine combines the noble varieties of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Malbec. If you’re serving beef, lamb or veal with your holiday dinner, this wine will be a match made in heaven.
Reserve Grand Champion Best of Show – Nice Winery Cabernet Franc, Paicines, 2018
Cabernet Franc is not just for blending anymore. The dominant red grape in the Loire Valley, Cabernet Franc is a classic medium-bodied wine with medium tannins, and flavors of red fruit, herbs and peppery earthiness. Its mellow tannins and refreshing acidity make it a great pairing for smoked meats, wild game and Texas-style barbeque. For winemaker Ryan Levy (co-founder of Nice Winery along with Ian Eastveld), the award highlights a career that has come full circle: In 1993, Levy won an HLSR scholarship that helped him attend Rice University.
Top Texas Wine – Hye Meadow Winery Boooom Red, Texas High Plains, 2017
Hye Meadow calls this wine “100% the Bomb.” And indeed it is. This heavy wine is a robust blend of “Italian Stallions,” including Negroamaro, Montepulciano, Alianico and Sangiovese, grapes that are finding a home in the Texas High Plains. It’s perfect for steaks and grilled meats as well as lamb and veal.
Top Sparkling Wine – Meiomi Sparkling Rosé, North Coast, 2020
No holiday is complete without sparkling wine. Be it Christmas or New Year’s, a glass of bubbly sets the stage for any special celebration. Meomi’s reputation preceeds this bottle: the company was founded by Joe Wagner, fifth-generation Napa Valley winemaker, in 2006 and has become one of the most popular wine brands in the U.S. Enjoy this wine as an aperitif, with food, or just because.
Top White Wine – Ruffino Italian Orvieto Classico DOC, 2020
This is the best-known wine in Umbria in Central Italy. It’s a light to medium-bodied dry wine, with clean aromas and flavors of green apple, melon, and citrus, and a crisp, mineral-dominant finish. Start your holiday dinner with the Orvieto as an aperitif — your guests will thank you —or pair it with light dishes such as seafood pasta, grilled fish, chicken alfredo, antipasto, sushi, salad, white pizza and ham.
Top Red Wine – Three Sticks Pinot Noir, Gap's Crown Vineyard, Sonoma Coast, 2019
This wine hails from one of the most icononic vineyards of Sonoma County, producing some of the highest quality Pinot Noirs in the region. Enjoy this wine with pork, salmon, roasted chicken or pasta dishes. As a side note, the winery is named for named for owner William S. Price III's surfing nickname, "Billy Three Sticks," assigned to him in his youth as reference to the Roman numeral that follows his name.
Top Region Wine – Revelry Vintners Limited Edition Reveler Red, Columbia Valley, 2018
The 'Limited Edition' release is a hand-crafted, small batch bottling from the winery’s finest sources, and represents why our featured region, Washington State, is now recognized world-wide as a top wine-growing area. This Bordeaux Blend is dense and dark, with incredible weight and texture reminiscent of old world wines. The wine is age-worthy and food-friendly. If you’re serving heavier meats like spicy steaks and lamb, this wine is for you.
Top Dessert Wine – Pillitteri Estates Winery Vidal Icewine, Niagara On The Lake VQA, 2019
Pillitteri Estates Winery is the world’s largest estate Icewine producer, with icewine its flagship product. Icewine is a type of dessert wine produced from grapes that have been frozen while still on the vine. It’s crisp, cool and delicious. Typical aromas of white Icewine include peach, apricot, honey and citrus. Pair this wine with sweet desserts and or mild and soft cheeses.
Top Value Wine – Apothic Merlot, California, 2019
Inspired by Apotheca, a mysterious place where wine was blended and stored in 13th-century Europe, the wines of Apothic are truly unique in style and taste. According to legend, the Merlot grape was named after the little black bird that used its clever wit to steal from the vines, so the Apothic winemaker crated this wine with untamed notes of blackberry, vanilla and a plush, velvety finish to enjoy and savor. Pair this wine with steak, burgers and barbeque.
The Rodeo Uncorked! International Wine Competition, now in its 19th year, is one of the largest and most prestigious wine competitions in the country, For more information on this year’s winners click here or join our Rodeo Uncorked! Facebook group.