Houston Rodeo Wines

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Strange as it seems, the Houston Rodeo and Livestock Show is a great place for wine lovers. In addition to the the World BBQ Championship, Livestock Show, and genuine Rodeo that you would expect at an event with such a name, they have some fantastic wine events.

Houston Rodeo and Livestock Show Wines1,969 wines from 606 wineries were represented and judged. Over the weekend I was lucky enough to have the chance to taste some of the winning wines. Here are tasting notes from some of the ones I liked best.

Stags’ Leap Napa Cabernet 2005 – $45 was the overall champion, and for good reason. This is an excellent Cabernet. It is very big and full-bodied, but not over-bearing like some Napa Cabs can be. It had a wonderful nose of black cherries, dark berries, plum, mint, cocoa and freshly turned earth mixed with leather. Flavors of plums, cassis, cherries, spice and mocha dominate with a long bittersweet chocolate and leather finish. This tastes like a much more expensive wine. As much as I loved this, it was my second favorite.

The 2005 d’Arenberg The Custodian Grenache from McLaren Vale, Australia was my favorite of everything that I tasted. Considering that I sampled it after the Stag’s Leap, that is quite an accomplishment. The nose is has a smoky note to it that mixes it up very nicely with cherry, raspberry, herbs and a hint of freshly cracked black pepper. The taste is a big, delicious jammy mix of black cherry, plum, mint, strawberry and raspberry. There is a bit of sweetness as the flavors continue for a nice long finish. I was stunned to find out that this wine retails for $19.99. d’Arenberg took top all-around winery honors.

I also tasted the Orogeny Vineyards Pinot Noir Green Valley, 2005 ($35.99) which took the Reserve Grand Champion Best of Show & Champion honors, and the Double Gold winning 2004 Peachy Canyon Petite Sirah ($26). The Pinot was quite good and tasted exactly like a textbook description of a Pinot Noir except for a very pleasant toast note. Petite Syrah’s are not one of my favorite varietals, but this one was not bad. While it was spit-sucking tannic, it was very fruity with plum, prune and cherry notes dominating. It had a fairly long meaty finish. I’d like to try this with a big, bloody steak or some wild game.

All-in-all there were some very tasty wine represented here in Houston. If you ever find yourself in town during the Rodeo, do yourself a favor and make time to visit. You will be surprised at how much there is to do and how much fun it is.