The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo isn't just about cattle, barbecue and the Jonas Brothers. It's also about wine.
The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo International Wine Competition started seven years ago with the help of Charles M. Bear Dalton, fine wine buyer for Spec's. Seventy-five judges, the majority from Texas, judge roughly 1,800 wines in a blind tasting. This year, the judges awarded 1,250 medals. The winners represent the endorsement of the entire panel, not just one reviewer's taste, meaning multiple people thought the wine was excellent.
Below are the top ten winners of the 7th annual International Wine Competition:
These winners were featured at the Rodeo Uncorked! Roundup and Best Bites Competition held on February 21. The top awards - Grand Champion Best of Show, Reserve Grand Champion Best of Show, Top Texas Wine, and Top Argentine Wine - receive a saddle with the award engraved in the stirrup leathers. The Top All-Around Winery receives a saddle as well.
The Top Argentine Wine award is new this year. The Wine Competition has added a country-focused category. Next year, the competition will feature a different country.
The remaining five - Top Red Wine, Top White Wine, Top Sweet Wine, Top Value Wine, and Top Sparkling Wine - receive chaps with the award branded on the leg. No trophies here. It's the rodeo, after all.
Recently, we stopped by Spec's to check out some wine-competition winners. Surprisingly, none of the award winners cost over $40 a bottle, and some were in the $10 to $15 range. It's always nice to see reasonably priced wines receiving awards.
Unfortunately, Spec's was sold out of the Top Value Wine winner, and the wine gurus weren't sure if or when they would receive another shipment. They didn't expect it to be so popular. But they're always on their toes. They suggested an alternative Australian red, Ashwood Grove Cabernet 2006, with a similar flavor profile - fruit-forward and easy.
Who knew the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo would introduce us to a whole new line-up of wines to try? For more tasting notes and detailed information on the 2010 International Wine Competition winners, check out Bear Dalton's discussions in Spec's newsletters here and here.