Tasting 125 Wines: Do Not Try this at Home!
How many folks could taste 125 wines in just 3 hours? I know we had a least that many at the New Zealand Wine Tasting event at last year’s Wine Blogger Conference–but I would not try it at home. It’s best at an event–with someone else doing the pouring. Last month we announced the winners of the International Wine Competition for the 2009 Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo (HLSR) in Belt Buckles, Saddles & Chaps? Oh My! Next month, on February 8th, 125 of those wines will be available for tasting at the annual Rodeo Uncorked Roundup and Best Bites Competition.
I’ve been a volunteer with HLSR since 2005, which coincidentally, was the same year Joe and I got married (Not AT the Rodeo mind you, just during the same time period). For the past four years I’ve been on a committee that requires me to work every fourth show, and I always doubled up on shifts around our anniversary, so I could have the night off.
A couple years ago the rodeo added a Vintner’s Corral, which has became our favorite Rodeo haunt and reason to don boots, jeans and a big belt buckle on days other than those I volunteer. We had inquired about getting on the Wine Committee, but understood there was a huge waiting list to join.
The Rodeo also coincides with Barrel Tasting in Sonoma. So this year, while the status of my existing committee was up in the air due to some real estate wranglings involving Reliant Stadium and The Astrodome, we decided we’d go to Sonoma for our anniversary to partake in the Annual Wine Road Barrel Tasting.
Each year there is also an event called Rodeo Uncorked and Best Bites Competition — and last year we planned to go for our anniversary. But it’s such a popular event that by the time I got around to buying the tickets, it was sold out! As luck would have it, I got an opportunity to join the Wine Competition Committee — and got the word last weekend that it was a go! As a member of the Wine Competition Committee, I’m also able to get the word out so folks can purchase tickets before the event sells out. (To order yours, you can print out, complete and mail or fax the Best Bites Ticket Order Form.)
Now we understand that not everyone will be in Houston for the event. But you still have an opportunity to enjoy the fine wines that are winners for this year’s event. We thought we’d note a few of them here:
This year’s Grand Champion Best of Show is the 2006 Vina Robles “Suendero”, Paso Robles, 2006 Bordeaux-Blend Red and Meritage.
Suendero is a Meritage bottling of Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot. The name Suendero signifies “The Dream Path,” celebrating the wine’s origins amid the magical terrain of Adelaida Springs Ranch in the rugged coastal mountains west of Paso Robles. Here, at an elevation of 1,500 feet and just 12 miles from the Pacific Ocean, the ranch’s small vineyard unfolds along steep calcareous soils composed of ancient sea beds. These hillside soils, combined with reliable marine breezes, enable Winemaker Matthias Gubler to craft a nuanced wine that mirrors the evenness and elegance of timeless blends. (From Vina Robles site)
This year’s Reserve Grand Champion Best of Show comes from McManis Family Vineyards, in the form of their 2007 Petite Sirah. McManis Family Vineyards is a grower and vintner of premium varietal winegrapes located near the cool confluence of the San Joaquin and Stanislaus Rivers, just south of Lodi, now known as the River Junction appellation. The company was founded in 1990 by Ron and Jamie McManis – fourth generation family farmers. The McManis family has been growing grapes in this region since 1938.
Dark purple in color, with a bright hue, the 2007 McManis Family Vineyards Petite Sirah has a dense, jammy Boysenberry aroma, which is accompanied by a creamy vanilla and slightly smoky character. The wine is soft and round on the palate and is full of big, juicy, dark berry fruit flavors. A long fruit finish is accompanied by hints of milk chocolate.
d’Arenberg was selected as Top All Around Winery in the 2009 HLSR International Wine Competition. d’Arenberg was also awarded with the Winestate Busby Perpetual Trophy for Australian Wine Company of the Year. The trophy is awarded to the winery that performed the strongest in Winestate’s tastings throughout the year. Their 2006 “The Noble” Chardonnay/Semillon McLaren Vale, South Australia won the double gold medal for Other Sweet White (Not Fortified) at the 2009 HLSR.
A Reserve Class Champion this year is King Estate Winery for their 2007 Signature Pinot Gris – Vin Glace. Vin Glacé, also known as Ice Wine, is a style of wine made from ripe frozen grapes. Pressing the frozen grapes produces a sweet juice, while leaving the frozen water crystals and grape skins behind. The resulting juice is very concentrated in aromas and flavors and demonstrates intense varietal character. Fermentation occurs slowly and is stopped before the wine is fermented dry.
Also awarded a Gold Medal was King Estate Winery’s 2007 Signature Pinot Gris. This very pleasant white has the aroma of tropical fruit, ripe peach, and orange blossom. We served this at a holiday party with rave reviews!
Another of Joe’s personal favorites was also a winner! Reserve Class Champion was awarded to a 2007 Martin Codax Albarino, a crisp, fresh Spanish white from Rias Baixas, that we served at a couple parties and recommended for others.
Another one of our favorite winemakers also earned a Bronze Medal. Winemaker and owner, Phillip Staehle, creator of Enkidu Wine placed with his 2006 Diener Ranch Petite Sirah from Red Hills – Lake County. We tasted some fabulous big, bold wines he was pouring last year at the North American Wine Blogger Conference, and are looking forward to our next order of Petite Sirah!
These are just a few of this year’s winners. You can downloand a complete list of the 2009 winners. Or join us at the Rodeo Uncorked Roundup and Best Bites Competition in Houston on Sunday, February 8th. But don’t wait to buy your tickets in person, or you’ll miss out. Download the order form, fill it out, and mail or fax it in. Address, fax number and other information are on the form.
~ Amy Corron Power