Mercer Estates rounds up top awards at Houston wine competition

By on November 23, 2015
Reflections of the historic Astrodome, right, and the NRG Stadium — home of the National Football League's Houston Texans — greet judges as they enter the Houston Livestock and Rodeo International Wine Competition.

Reflections of the historic Astrodome, right, and NRG Stadium — home of the National Football League’s Houston Texans — greet judges as they enter the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo International Wine Competition. (Photo by Eric Degerman/Great Northwest Wine)

HOUSTON — Mercer Estates in Prosser, Wash., received two major awards — including best red blend of the competition — and Ste. Michelle Wine Estates was named the top region wine company at Rodeo Uncorked!, the international wine competition for the 2016 Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo.

mercer-estates-reserve-cavalie-2012-bottleThe competition was staged Nov. 14-15 at NRG Center near the historic Astrodome. More than 2,400 entries from throughout the world were set in front of 100 judges, a panel dominated by Houston-area sommeliers and wine buyers.

Jessica Munnell produced the Mercer Estates 2012 Reserve Cavalie ($42), a Meritage-style red blend made using grapes from Washington’s Horse Heaven Hills, during her first vintage for the historic Mercer family. Munnell, a Washington State University grad, also earned a double gold for the Mercer Estates 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon, which was chosen as the top wine from the Pacific Northwest.

In being named Top Red Wine, the 2012 Reserve Cavalie finished No. 3 overall in the competition, trailing only the Orin Swift Cellars 2013 Mercury Head Cabernet Sauvignon ($120) from the Napa Valley, and the B.R. Cohn Winery 2013 Olive Hill Estate Cabernet Sauvignon ($75) from the Sonoma Valley.

“Top Red Wine by our rules is the highest scoring red wine (in the 1-2-3 scoring method) in the sweepstakes round, after Grand Champion Best of Show and Reserve Grand Champion Best of Show,” Robert Gilroy, vice chairman of judging, told Great Northwest Wine via email.

Chateau Ste. Michelle earned double gold medals and class awards for its 2012 Cold Creek Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon and 2012 Canoe Ridge Estate Cabernet Sauvignon. Those represented two of the nine gold medals won by wineries within Ste. Michelle Wine Estates. Munnell is a former SMWE winemaker.

Milbrandt Vineyards earned a best of class and double gold for the 2013 Evergreen Vineyard Traditions Riesling as well as gold medals for its 2014 Traditions Chardonnay and 2011 The Estates Merlot.

Columbia Crest, one of six Ste. Michelle brands entered in the judging, received three gold medals. Head winemaker for the largest winery in the Horse Heaven Hills is Juan Muñoz Oca — Munnell’s husband.

Oregon Pinot Noir producers Chateau Bianca Winery and Penner-Ash Wine Cellars each earned two gold medals.

As is the unique custom of Rodeo Uncorked, top winners of the competition receive custom saddles, chaps or belt buckles.

Pacific Northwest wineries account for 181 entries

Amy Gross, CEO and co-founder Wine4.Me in Spring, Texas, judges a flight of Cabernet Sauvignon-based wines at the Houston Livestock and Rodeo International Wine Competition at NRG Center.

Amy Gross, CEO and co-founder of Wine4.Me in Spring, Texas, judges a flight of Cabernet Sauvignon-based wines at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo International Wine Competition at NRG Center. (Photo by Eric Degerman/Great Northwest Wine)

With a population of 2.1 million, Houston is the fourth-largest city in the U.S. and a growing market for wine, particularly Cabernet Sauvignon. More than a dozen countries – including Chile, Croatia, France, Italy, New Zealand and Portugal – were represented at Rodeo Uncorked. This fall, the judging received a record 181 entries from the Pacific Northwest, which was the featured region for the first time in the competition’s 13-year history. Texas wineries entered 267 wines in the event audited at the venue by Pricewaterhouse Coopers.

Each of the top wines will be auctioned Feb. 28 at the Rodeo Uncorked! Champion Wine Auction & Dinner and paired with dishes from many of Houston’s top chefs at the Roundup and Best Bites Competition.

Last year’s wine competition and auction raised more than $2 million in scholarship funds for Texas youth. Since its beginning in 1932, the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo has donated more than $400 million to scholarships and other educational youth programs.

The 2016 Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, which runs March 1-20, will spotlight many of the competitions top wines by the glass and bottle at the Rodeo Uncorked! Champion Wine Garden in Carruth Plaza at NRG Park.

Rodeo Uncorked! winners using Pacific NW fruit

Rodeo Uncorked! the international wine competition for the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, generated more than 2,400 entries.

The sweepstakes portion of Rodeo Uncorked! spotlights the top entries from the international wine competition for the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, which generated more than 2,400 entries. (Photo by Eric Degerman/Great Northwest Wine)

Top red blend, double gold

Mercer Estates 2012 Reserve Cavalie, Horse Heaven Hills, $42

Top region wine, double gold

Mercer Estates 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley

Top region wine company

Ste. Michelle Wine Estates

Class champion, double gold

Chateau Ste. Michelle, 2012 Cold Creek Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley

Reserve class champion, double gold

Chateau Ste. Michelle 2012 Canoe Ridge Estate Cabernet Sauvignon, Horse Heaven Hills

Region class champion, double gold

Terra Blanca Winery 2012 J.T. Grey Cabernet Sauvignon, Red Mountain

Class champion, double gold

Milbrandt Vineyards 2013 Traditions Riesling, Columbia Valley

Class champion, double gold

PINO 2013 Pinot Noir, Oregon

Gold medal

Barons V Winery 2011 Petit Barone Red Blend, Columbia Valley, $22
Boomtown by Dusted Valley 2013 Syrah, Columbia Valley
Charles & Charles 2014 Chardonnay, Columbia Valley
Charles Smith Vino 2014 Pinot Grigio, Ancient Lakes of Columbia Valley
Chateau Bianca Winery 2011 Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley
Chateau Bianca Winery 2013 Riesling, Willamette Valley
Chateau Ste. Michelle 2012 Canoe Ridge Estate Merlot, Horse Heaven Hills
Columbia Crest 2013 H3 Cabernet Sauvignon, Horse Heaven Hills
Columbia Crest 2013 Grand Estates Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley
Columbia Crest 2012 Walter Clore Private Reserve Red Wine, Columbia Valley
Del Rio Vineyards 2014 Pinot Gris, Rogue Valley
Dr. Loosen & Chateau Ste. Michelle 2013 Eroica Gold Riesling, Columbia Valley
14 Hands 2013 Chardonnay, Washington
14 Hands 2014 Pinot Gris, Washington
King Estate 2014 Pinot Gris, Oregon
Maison L’Envoye 2013 Two Messengers Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley
Milbrandt Vineyards 2014 Traditions Chardonnay, Columbia Valley
Milbrandt Vineyards 2011 The Estates Merlot, Wahluke Slope
Pacific Rim Winemakers 2013 Riesling, Columbia Valley
Penner-Ash Wine Cellars 2013 Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley
Penner-Ash Wine Cellars 2014 Viognier, Oregon
Revelry Vintners 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley

Silver medal

A to Z Wineworks 2014 Pinot Gris, Oregon
A to Z Wineworks 2013 Pinot Noir, Oregon
Acrobat 2014 Pinot Gris, Oregon
Acrobat 2013 Pinot Noir, Oregon
Apolloni Vineyards 2013 Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley
Barons V Winery 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley
Barons V Winery 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon, Red Mountain
Boomtown by Dusted Valley 2014 Chardonnay, Columbia Valley
Browne Family Vineyards 2012 Cabernet, Columbia Valley
Browne Family Vineyards 2011 Tribute Red Wine, Columbia Valley
Canoe Ridge Vineyard 2012 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, Horse Heaven Hills
Charles & Charles 2014 Riesling, Washington
Charles Smith 2014 Kung Fu Girl Riesling, Ancient Lakes of Columbia Valley
Charles Smith 2013 Boom Boom! Syrah, Columbia Valley
Chateau Ste. Michelle 2014 Indian Wells Chardonnay, Columbia Valley
Chateau Ste. Michelle 2014 Dry Riesling, Columbia Valley
Chateau Ste. Michelle 2012 Indian Wells Red Blend, Columbia Valley
Chateau Ste. Michelle 2012 Artist Series Meritage, Columbia Valley
Chateau Ste. Michelle 2012 Cold Creek Vineyard Merlot, Columbia Valley
Chateau Ste. Michelle 2014 Riesling, Columbia Valley
Columbia Crest 2013 Grand Estates Chardonnay, Columbia Valley
Columbia Crest 2014 Grand Estates Unoaked Chardonnay, Washington State
Columbia Crest 2012 H3 Les Chevaux Red Blend, Horse Heaven Hills
Columbia Winery 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley
Columbia Winery NV Composition Red Blend, Columbia Valley
Columbia Winery 2013 Merlot, Columbia Valley
Del Rio Vineyards 2012 Claret, Rogue Valley
Del Rio Vineyards 201 Viognier, Rogue Valley
Dusted Valley Vintners 2012 Petite Sirah, Wahluke Slope
Dusted Valley Vintners 2012 Stained Tooth Syrah, Columbia Valley
Erath Winery 2013 Estate Selection Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley
Erath Winery 2013 Pinot Noir, Oregon
Firesteed Cellars 2014 Pinot Gris, Oregon
14 Hands NV Brut, Columbia Valley
14 Hands 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley
14 Hands 2013 Hot To Trot Red Blend, Columbia Valley
14 Hands 2014 Moscato, Columbia Valley
14 Hands 2014 Sauvignon Blanc, Washington
Goose Ridge 2012 G3 Red Blend, Columbia Valley
Gravel Bar 2013 Alluvial Red Blend, Columbia Valley
Joel Gott 2012 Riesling, Columbia Valley
King Estate Winery 2013 Pinot Noir, Oregon
La Crema 2013 Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley
Lumos Wine Co. 2014 Julia Pinot Gris, Eola-Amity Hills
Mercer Estates 2012 Merlot, Columbia Valley
Mercer Estates 2014 Pinot Gris, Yakima Valley
Mercer Estates 2012 Sharp Sisters Red Blend, Columbia Valley
Michelle Sparkling Wines NV Extra Dry, Columbia Valley
Milbrandt Vineyards 2012 Traditions Merlot, Columbia Valley
NxNW 2014 Riesling, Horse Heaven Hills
Pacific Rim Winemakers 2013 Twin Vineyard Gewürztraminer, Yakima Valley
Pacific Rim Winemakers 2013 Dry Riesling, Dry, Columbia Valley
Pacific Rim Winemakers 2014 Sweet Riesling, Columbia Valley
Pendulum 2013 Red Blend, Columbia Valley
Penner-Ash Wine Cellars 2013 Estate Vineyard Pinot Noir, Yamhill-Carlton
Penner-Ash Wine Cellars 2013 Syrah, Oregon
PINO 2014 Pinot Gris, Oregon
Point North 2013 Pinot Noir, Oregon
Ransom 2012 Cabernet Franc, Rogue Valley
Ransom 2012 Red Bordeaux Blend, Rogue Valley
Revelry Vintners 2012 Limited Edition Reveler, Columbia Valley
Revelry Vintners 2012 Block 18 Syrah, Wahluke Slope
REX HILL 2013 Seven Soils Chardonnay, Willamette Valley
Sixto 2012 Frenchman Hills Chardonnay, Columbia Valley
Skyfall 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley
Soter Vineyards 2013 North Valley Pinot Noir, North Valley, Willamette Valley
Saviah Cellars 2013 The Jack Riesling, Columbia Valley
Three Rivers Winery 2012 River’s Red, Columbia Valley
Trust Cellars NV T.A.T.T., Walla Walla Valley
Battle Creek Cellars 2013 Unconditional Pinot Noir, Oregon
Waitsburg Cellars 2014 The Aromatics Chevray Old Vine Chenin Blanc, Columbia Valley
Waterbrook Winery 2013 Reserve Malbec, Columbia Valley
Willamette Valley Vineyards 2013 Estate Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley
Woodward Canyon 2012 Artist Series Cabernet Sauvignon, Washington
Woodward Canyon 2014 Nelms Road Cabernet Sauvignon, Washington

Bronze medal

A to Z 2014 Chardonnay, Oregon
Angela Estate 2012 Pinot Noir, Wilamette Valley
Anne Amie Vineyards 2013 Two Estates Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley
Apolloni Vineyards 2013 Dolce Vino Viognier, Oregon
Barons V Winery 2013 The Leader Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley
Barons V Winery 2014 Sauvignon Blanc, Columbia Valley
Boomtown by Dusted Valley 2013 Merlot, Columbia Valley
Browne Family Vineyards 2013 Chardonnay, Columbia Valley
Canoe Ridge Vineyard 2011 Cherry Street Reserve Red Blend, Columbia Valley
Charles Smith 2013 Chateau Smith Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley
Charles Smith 2013 Wines Of Substance Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley
Charles Smith 2014 The Velvet Devil Merlot, Columbia Valley
Chateau Bianca Winery 2014 Pinot Gris, Willamette Valley
Chateau Ste. Michelle 2013 Canoe Ridge Estate Chardonnay, Horse Heaven Hills
Chateau Ste. Michelle 2013 Cold Creek Vineyard Chardonnay, Columbia Valley
Chateau Ste. Michelle 2014 Harvest Select Sweet Riesling, Columbia Valley
Coleman Estates 2012 Pinot Gris, Willamette Valley
Columbia Crest 2013 Grand Estates Merlot, Columbia Valley
Columbia Crest 2013 H3 Merlot, Horse Heaven Hills
Columbia Crest 2014 H3 Sauvignon Blanc, Horse Heaven Hills
Columbia Winery 2013 Chardonnay, Columbia Valley
Del Rio Vineyards 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon, Rogue Valley
Del Rio Vineyards 2013 Pinot Noir, Rogue Valley
Del Rio Vineyards NV Rose Jolee, Rogue Valley
Dusted Valley Vintners 2013 Tall Tales Syrah, Walla Walla Valley
Erath Vineyard 2014 Pinot Gris, Oregon
Goose Ridge Vineyards 2011 G3 Estate Merlot, Columbia Valley
Gravel Bar 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley
Gravel Bar 2013 Chardonnay, Columbia Valley
Jigsaw 2014 Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley
Joel Gott 2014 Pinot Gris, Willamette Valley
Lumos Wine Co. 2012 Five Blocks Pinot Noir, Five Blocks, Willamette Valley
Lumos Wine Co. 2012 Temperance Hill Vineyard Pinot Noir, Eola-Amity Hills
Merriman 2012 Estate Pinot Noir, Yamhill-Carlton
Michelle Sparkling Wines NV Brut, Columbia Valley
Michelle Sparkling Wines, NV Brut Rosé, Columbia Valley
Milbrandt Vineyards 2012 The Estates Cabernet Sauvignon, Wahluke Slope
Milbrandt Vineyards 2012 Traditions Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley
Montinore Estate 2014 Borealis, Willamette Valley
Montinore Estate 2013 Reserve Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley
NxNW 2012 Red Blend, Columbia Valley
Penner Ash Wine Cellars 2013 Rubeo, Oregon
Penner-Ash Wine Cellars 2013 Shea Vineyard Pinot Noir, Yamhill-Carlton
Primarius 2013 Pinot Noir, Oregon
Rex Hill 2013 Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley
Ross Andrew 2013 The Huntsman Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley
Soter Vineyards 2014 Planet Oregon Pinot Noir, Oregon
Spicewood Vineyards 2013 Grenache, Horse Heaven Hills
Terra Blanca 2009 Signature Series Cabernet Sauvignon, Red Mountain
Terra Blanca 2009 Signature Series Merlot, Red Mountain
The Four Graces 2014 Pinot Gris, Willamette Valley
The Four Graces 2013 Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley
Waitsburg Cellers 2014 The Aromatics Cheninières Old Vine Chenin Blanc, Columbia Valley
Waterbrook Winery 2014 Reserve Riesling, Columbia Valley
Willamette Valley Vineyards 2012 Bernau Block Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley

About Eric Degerman

Eric Degerman is the president and CEO of Great Northwest Wine. He is a journalist with more than 30 years of daily newspaper experience and has been writing about wine since 1998. He co-founded Wine Press Northwest with Andy Perdue and served as its managing editor for 15 years. He is a frequent wine judge along the West Coast and contributor to Pacific Northwest Golfer magazine, the region's longest-running golf publication.

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