By Nan McCreary
The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo™ has announced the winners of the 2021 Rodeo Uncorked!® International Wine Competition, just in time for the holidays. With virtual gatherings, holiday feasts and gift exchanges, this year’s winners offer a wonderful selection for you to pair with your holiday activities. These wines topped all others in a contest that featured 2,601 entries from 18 countries, including wines from Argentina, England, France, Italy, Japan, New Zealand and Spain. Texas wines represented 346 entries and this year’s featured region, Sonoma County, California, entered 351 wines. When making your shopping lists, consider these wines, not only to support the Show, but to enjoy award-winning favorites with friends and family.
Grand Champion Best of Show – Alexander Valley Vineyards CYRUS, Alexander Valley, 2014
Cyrus does it again! For the fourth time, Cyrus as taken the top award at this competition, and no wonder. We Texans love our Bordeaux Blends to complement our big juicy steaks, and this one is rich, concentrated and aromatic. In other words, it’s the quintessential pairing. You can also enjoy this wine with lamb, game (deer, venison) or chicken.
Reserve Grand Champion Best of Show – Le Chemin Du Roi Brut, Champagne AOC, NV
There’s nothing like a glass of “Bubbly” to kick-start the holidays, especially an award winner like Le Chemin Du Roi Brut, which translates to “The King’s Path.” You will feel like a king when you sip this stunning wine, made only from the finest vineyards in Champagne, France.
Top Texas Wine – Ron Yates Tempranillo, Friesen Vineyards, Texas High Plains, 2017
Ron Yates Winery Tempranillo is just one of many Texas Tempranillos that are making a mark in the state. If your holiday cooking includes barbecue or grilled-meats, smoky dishes or Mexican food such as tacos, nacho, burritos and chile rellenos, this is the wine for you.
Top Red Wine – Famiglia Pasqua Amarone Della Valpolicella DOCG, 2015
This is a majestic wine with a full body and concentrated flavors. Pair this with special holiday meals: rich steaks; wild game, especially in stews; barbecue; pork (glazed ham); veal; and poultry (coq au vin). Amarone is a made with partially dried grapes in Valpolicella in the Veneto region of northeast Italy and is considered one of Italy’s greatest wines.
Top White Wine – William Hill Estate Winery Chardonnay, Napa Valley, 2017
Thinking of splurging on a lobster dinner during the holidays? Top it off with this classic Napa Valley Chardonnay, buttery and creamy with flavors of baked apple, ripe pear and tropical melon. The wine is also perfect with rich roast turkey and chicken dishes, as well as shrimp tempura and grilled whitefish. This definitely is a Chardonnay for those who like their wines big and buttery.
Top Sparkling Wine – Moët & Chandon Impérial Brut Champagne AOC, NV
Moët Impérial is the House’s iconic champagne. For many, it is a go-to sparkler, distinguished by its bright fruitiness, its seductive palate and its elegant maturity. Serve it as an aperitif, a food accompaniment, a palate cleanser after a big meal or just because. Remember, Champagne goes with everything, especially fried chicken or, better yet, French fries.
Top Dessert Wine – Harveys the Bristol Cream Solera Sherry, Jerez DO, NV
This cream Sherry is the number one selling Sherry in the world. No wonder — it’s been around since 1882. The wine features flavors of roasted nuts and raisins, with a subtly spicy finish. Serve chilled as an aperitif or after-dinner, straight or on the rocks. If you’d like to pair it with dessert, try a semi-sweet pastry or a piece fresh fruit.
Top Region Wine – Three Sticks Chardonnay, Durell Vineyard, Sonoma Coast, 2017
Some of California’s best wines come from Sonoma County, our featured region this year, and this is no exception. This standout wine is a classic unoaked Chardonnay. It has a full, rich flavor, and pairs with well with light delicate foods like fresh grilled fish, fresh seafood or white meats with light herbed seasonings.
Top Value Wine: Robert Mondavi Private Selection Riesling, California, 2018
Robert Mondavi created his Private Selection wines in 1994 to showcase the high quality and varied character of California’s diverse growing regions. This wine is perfect for the holidays. With crisp acidity, minerality and a touch of sweetness, the wine pairs well with baked ham, smoky grilled sausages, and Asian cuisines, where the slight sweetness offsets the heat and spices. Try it with a lavish dinner, or, when you’re tired of cooking, enjoy a bottle with your favorite Thai take-out meal.