Texas Wine Lover was invited for this coverage. All opinions, experiences, and photographs are entirely our own.
The 11th Anniversary of Iron Sommelier took place on November 8th, and the event was incredible as always. The annual wine competition and wine tasting event benefited the Periwinkle Foundation, and this year’s event raised a record $320,000.
Upon arriving, a large table of wine bottles featured the Wine Pull where for a donation, you could pull from over 100 bottles of wine donated by collectors with the finest cellars in Houston. Besides wine, there were also other beverages from businesses like 8th Wonder Brewery and Maker’s Mark.
In the ballroom, the main event was taking place with Sommeliers competing for the title of Iron Sommelier. The Sommeliers who were competing this year along with their presentation themes were:
- Farrrah Cauley – Sonoma Wine Bar – Upper Kirby & The Heights – “California Cabernet Franc”
- Angie Chang – Backstreet Café – “Flower Power: The Garden in the Glass”
- Adele Corrigan – 13 Celsius Wine Bar – “The Truth about Vermouth”
- Matt Crawford – State of Grace and La Lucha – “Gimme Saumur”
- Julie Dalton – Mastro’s Steakhouse – “Drink Gneiss Schist”
- Marcus Gausepohl – Brennan’s of Houston – “Bandol is for Lovers”
- Geoff Stephens – Dolce Vita – “Italy’s Killer B’s: Barolo, Barbaresco, and Brunello”
- Emily Tolbert – Del Frisco’s – “Argentina: More Than Malbec”
- Evan Turner – Emmaline – “Magna Graecia, How Greece Gave Wine to the Mediterranean and Changed the World”
- Justin Vann – Theodore Rex and Public Services Wine & Whisky Bar – “Babelas in Kapstadt: A Crash Course in South African Wine”
- Christian Varas – River Oaks Country Club – “Pushing Past the 45th Parallel: A New Frontier for Fine Wine”
- Chris Walter – Pappas Bros. Steakhouse – “Ferrous Bueller’s Iron Soils for Iron Somm”
- Robert L. Waltrip, III – Yauatcha Houston – “Seeing Pink Elephants on Parade: A Magical Journey with Sparkling Wines from Around the World”
- Alicia Wolf – Georgia James (Underbelly Hospitality) – “Palomino is More than Fino”
Every presentation was wonderful, but here are just a few that stood out to me. The first Sommelier for whom I tasted their wines was Julie Dalton who greeted me asking if I would like some “gneiss schist” while offering me a white Port cocktail. I had to ask again what she asked with the play on words.
Who doesn’t love bubbles? Robert Waltrip, III presented sparkling wines from around the world featuring wines from England, Austria, and South Africa.
Adele Corrigan offered different Vermouths for tastings. Yes, you can enjoy a Vermouth on its own instead of using it only in cocktails.
Many attendees were probably surprised when they arrived at Emily Tolbert’s table and she showed that Argentina is more than Malbec. She presented a Semillon, Chardonnay, and Pinot Noir from Argentina. I was fortunate to go to Mendoza, Argentina with Houston’s Nice Winery years ago, so I learned firsthand about non-Malbecs. By the way, Nice Winery was pouring some of their wines in the ballroom lobby at the Iron Sommelier event.
Evan Turner always provides an education, and this year was no exception with Evan giving a history lesson in how Greece gave wine to the Mediterranean. Actually, every Sommelier gave a wonderful presentation on their theme for the evening. It would be nice to see a compilation video of each Sommelier’s presentation.
After visiting each Sommelier’s table, you could look at the many items in the center of the room that were available for bidding. Last year’s Iron Sommelier Andres Blanco selected the wines in the Iron Sommelier Wine Case, and those were available for purchase by the case or half case. Children’s artwork from Periwinkle’s healing arts programs were framed and also available for sale. Of course, tasty desserts were available to add to the wines.
At the end of the evening, Julie Dalton was selected as this year’s Iron Sommelier. Julie becomes the first woman to earn the Iron Sommelier title.
These were the other awards presented:
- 1st runner up – Justin Vann
- 2nd runner up – Matt Crawford
- Underwriter Tasting Room, Best Presentation – Adele Corrigan and Justin Vann
- People’s Choice – Matt Crawford
Be sure to get your tickets early for next year’s event!