Big California Abounds at Brenner's on the Bayou Wine Fest this Saturday

Brenner's on the Bayou wine director Armando Dawdy personally selects the wines for the restaurant's annual Wine Fest, now in its sixth year.
Brenner's on the Bayou wine director Armando Dawdy personally selects the wines for the restaurant's annual Wine Fest, now in its sixth year.
Photo by Jeremy Parzen

"A robust, powerful wine with a big personality and a generous finish," reads the winemaker's tasting note for Saved, a California red blend created by legacy Napa grape grower Clay Brock and celebrity tattoo artist Scott Campbell, who's known for work that adorns the likes of Sting and Courtney Love.

"It is big, bold and rich... An eclectic blend of grapes... with distinct oak flavors -- French oak for vanilla and coconut; American oak for caramel, créme brûlée and coffee."

Weighing in at 15.2 percent alcohol (wow!), most wine tradespeople would agree that Saved, with its body art-inspired packaging, is the embodiment of the "big" California style: Fruit forward, concentrated and dense, with oaky flavors and high alcohol content.

And it's one of the wines to be featured this Saturday at Brenner's on the Bayou's sixth annual Wine Fest (check out the event details).

"We give the people what they want," said the restaurant's wine director Armando Dawdy, a longtime veteran of the Houston wine scene who has run the wine program there for nearly six years.

Of the forty wines chosen for the event, most fall into the "big" California category.

But Armando, who selects the wines personally, also includes a few European gems like the Albert Bichot Chablis from France or the Incisa della Rocchetta Barbera d'Asti Sant'Emiliano from Italy.

The event will also feature some more restrained expressions of California viticulture, like four entries from the Coppola winery and the Tablas Creek Patelin de Tablas, one of Armando's personal favorites.

In the case of the Tablas, the wine is aged partly in stainless-steel tanks and partly in large-format oak casks that allow the wine to evolve gracefully without imparting oakiness.

Whether or not "big" is your bag, the Brenner's on the Bayou Wine Fest represents a great value at $75 per person ($125 for VIP access, which gets you into the festival an hour earlier) and includes small bites created especially for the outdoor event.

Call 713-868-4444 for more information and registration.

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