Texas Wine Lover was invited to the event for the purposes of this press coverage. However, all opinions, experiences, and photographs are entirely our own.
Periwinkle hosted Iron Sommelier 2016 on October 20 at The Houstonian Hotel. The four-hour event had 14 of Houston’s best sommeliers competing for the title of Iron Sommelier. Six hundred people enjoyed the evening of wine and food, along with entertainment and charity. More than $270,000 was raised for Periwinkle’s Camps, Arts, and Survivor programs for children, teens, and their families challenged by cancer and other life-threatening illnesses.
Upon entering the event, the wine pull was front and center where people could pull from over 100 bottles of wine donated by collectors with the finest cellars in Houston for a donation. Alongside the wine pull was some fabulous brisket and some wines and Japanese whiskey to entice the taste buds.
Once inside the main room, tables surrounded the outside of the room where the sommeliers offered tastings of the wines from the theme they chose. In the center of the room was a silent auction area including donations from Texas wineries William Chris Vineyards, Nice Winery, and McPherson Cellars. A children’s framed art sale and an Iron Sommelier wine case hand-selected by last year’s Iron Sommelier, Evan Turner, was available for more fundraising.
However, let’s talk about the wine! There was a selection of three wines based on the theme each of the sommeliers chose. Multiply that by 14 sommeliers and that’s a lot of wine, which unfortunately means you’re using a dump bucket. All the wines were fabulous and it was very difficult to dump wines such as Châteauneuf-du-Pape of France and Penfolds of Australia. The food pairings at each station also complimented the wines wonderfully.
These are the sommeliers who were there along with the theme they chose in alphabetical order by their last name:
- Angie Chang – Italifornication: California does Italy
- Adele Corrigan – Orange [wine] is the new black
- Matt Crawford – Burgundy, Beyond the Golden Slope [France]
- Rachel DelRocco – Bubbly Backroads of Northern Italy
- Travis Hinkle – Red Wines of Germany and Austria
- Lexey Davis Johnson – The Time Warp: Origins of Great Wine Houses Around the World
- Brandon Kerne – Italian Stallions: The Unheralded Champions of Italy
- Melissa Lamb – Renowned Wineries on the Mayacamas Range (Napa and Sonoma Valleys, California)
- Thomas Moësse – “I Vini del Vulcano” (Mt. Etna, Sicily, Italy)
- Samantha Porter – Basking in Basque County (Spain)
- Matthew Pridgen – “Mencia, not Carlos” (Spain and Portugal)
- Shepard Ross – Game of Rhones (France and Australia)
- Evan Turner – “I got your crisis right here: Brooding Reds of Greece”
- Christian Varas – Goût de Terroir – Digging for Texture
At the end of the evening, Christian Varas of River Oaks Country Club was crowned the title of Iron Sommelier 2016. These were other awards:
- 1st runner up – Evan Turner of Helen Greek Food and Wine
- 2nd runner up – Thomas Moësse of Divino Italian Restaurant and Wine Bar
- Underwriter Tasting Room, Best Presentation – Melissa Lamb of Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse
- People’s Choice – Melissa Lamb
It had been another great Iron Sommelier event. Look for announcements next year when tickets go on sale!
Photos by Jim Rector except where noted.