Not only will you get to taste a slew of amazing Zinfandel, but also the opportunity to learn about a collection of appellations through their Sommelier & Winemakers Terroir Workshops on Saturday January 31, at the Presidio, Golden Gate Club & Film Centre. Be sure to make time for my 2pm Workshop about Lake County & Mendocino AVA!
So there we were: Twenty wine judges tasting through the over 70 Best of Class gold medal winners at the Sweepstakes Round of Vineyard & Winery Management’s 24th Annual Grand Harvest Awards. It was so quiet in the room you could hear a pin drop and an occasional chime of two glasses making incidental contact. But when all the contenders were tasted, the Best of Show wine was the fabulous Miro Cellars 2012 Petite Sirah, Dry Creek Valley ($30).
In hindsight, I remember our panel tasting this wine and thinking how generous the fruit was, the layers of flavors and spice, and that long smooth finish. So once the winner was revealed, I wasn’t surprised that this magnificent Petite Sirah was made by Miro Tcholakov, one of the great winemakers of Sonoma County who tends to roll under the radar. After coming to California from his home country of Bulgaria, Miro worked at Dry Creek Vineyards and eventually became head winemaker at Trentadue Winery in Geyserville. On the side, Miro and his family started making Miro Cellars wines in 2001. Coincidentally, the debut release was…Petite Sirah, of course. For more info on Miro’s new releases, visit www.MiroCellars.com.
From a pool of nearly 1100 entries, the other awards included 82 Best of Class, 39 Double Gold, 161 Gold, and 450 Silver medals. Judges included winemakers, wine buyers, distributors, media personnel and other wine industry professionals who not only recognized the best wine submissions but possessed the level of knowledge and expertise needed to assess the wine’s terroir.
The following wines took best their categories:
Best White Wine: Hunt Country Vineyards, 2013 Seyval Blanc, Finger Lakes ($10.99)
SawyerSomm notes, as tasted with fellow judges Alisa Nemo of Handley Cellars and Thrace Bomberger of Walt Wines: Seyval Blanc is a French-American hydrid created by Frenchman Bertille Seyve around 1920. Made in stainless steel, this bright and expressive white wine has lively floral aromas of spring flowers, geranium and citrus. On the palate, a mixture of ripe melon, papaya, grapefruit, mineral, and a long graceful finish. Pairings: gourmet salads, grilled fish, chicken skewers with tangy citrus aioli. www.HuntWines.com.
Best Rose Wine: Truett Hurst Winery, 2013 Salmon Run Rosé, Dry Creek Valley ($18)
SawyerSomm notes, as tasted with fellow judges Alisa Nemo of Handley Cellars and Thrace Bomberger of Walt Wines: Not to be mistaken with Pink Zinfandel, this is a fantastic example of a classy dry Zinfandel rosé with fragrant aromas and lively flavors of wild strawberry, peach, plum, red cherry, anise and orange rind. Pairings: tangy cheeses, fresh berries, tostadas, Paella and spicy Indian cuisine. www.TruettHurst.com.
Best of Show and Best Red Wine: Miro Cellars, 2012 Petite Sirah, Dry Creek Valley ($30). www.MiroCellars.com.
Best Sparkling Wine: Gloria Ferrer Caves & Vineyard, 2006 Royal Cuvee, Carneros ($37). www.GloriaFerrer.com.
Best Late Harvest/Dessert Wine: Stephen & Walker Winery, 2012 Chardonnay Botrytis, Mendocino Ridge (Tbd). www.trustwine.com.
For more juicy information…
Established in 1990, Grand Harvest Awards seeks to uncover the distinctions of terroir by grouping wines for evaluation by appellation and variety. Wines are judged in the context of their viticultural regions in order to recognize the complexities and nuances of regional wines, and also to observe the influence of regional soil and climate characteristics on the taste and quality of individual wines.
“This unique wine competition showcases the diversity of terroir and we are pleased to be part of the research and promotion of allits regions in the U.S. and beyond,” said Robert Merletti, President and Publisher of Vineyard & Winery Management magazine.
And as the official GHA spokesperson, here’s my quote on the awards press release: “For decades we have been trying to interpret the styles of wines made in America. Now, thanks to the use of new technology and fruit from more mature vines, the unique flavor profiles are becoming more defined. For those reasons, it’s exciting to see that the diverse list of winners at the Grand Harvest Awards 2014 really demonstrate how terroir makes a difference in the flavor profiles of grapes planted in special regions across the nation.”
Official sponsors of the competition included Hilton Sonoma Wine Country, Penta Ultra-Purified Water, Graber Olives, Wine Country Shipping, Alsco, Costeaux French Bakery, Lagunitas Brewing Company and Sonoma Cider. And last but not least, great thanks to my good friend Debra Del Fiorentino, who did a great job as the Chief Judge at this year’s competition. See www.vwmmedia.com for more information.
Next Up: San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition, January 6-9
Stay tuned for news from the upcoming San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition 2015, the largest competition of American wines in the world, January 6-9. To enter wines in the competition before the deadline on December 10th or for information about the special early bird’s ticket price to the SFCWC Public Tasting on Saturday, February 14 which ends on New Years Eve, visit www.winejudging.com.
Take advantage this Saturday for an exclusive wine tasting opportunity. On December 6th from 10:30 to 4pm Lasseter Family Winery is hosting a Holiday Open House with delicious hors d’oeuvres by Estate Chef Veronica Eicken.
Catch this Claypool Cellars “POST Turkey Day Bonanza” at Hopmonk Tavern in Sebastopol on Saturday November 29th at 7pm. A Fabulous wine and music event to hasten your holiday recovery. Tickets available online!
Yes, we can see them here in Northern California Wine Country crossing roads, displaying feathers, and sharing feed with cows in the field on a regular basis. But I am talking about the upcoming feast that leaves them gobbling in terror!
Have you ever gone to the Sierra Nevada Foothills for Thanksgiving? We have spent much time there, particularly along Ebbetts Pass and found it to be a great place to initiate the holiday festivities. One memorable holiday meal was spent with my mother, brother and late Grandma Joanie, at the historic Murphys Hotel. Murphys is a pleasantly social foothill town sporting oodles of Tasting Rooms: As in wine! Waddle around town after your turkey stuffing right into a glass of Zin. Hovey, Lavender Ridge, Newsome-Harlow, Twisted Oak are just a few examples of the hospitible local flavors to sample along the main strip.
Among the multitude of destinations heading north from Ebbetts Pass, along the historic Highway 49, another great stop for wine is the quaint town of Nevada City. Also with a handful of Tasting Rooms sprinkled throughout the short downtown strip (some delicious restaurants as well). For some suggestions on the offerings visit this blog from our favorite lodging there, The Outside Inn. Wherever you decide to explore, enjoy your meal! And be sure to confirm tasting room hours before planning your trip.
Pinot On The River is the place to be this weekend: I will be returning for my 10th or so year, it is that great! It will be a fun filled weekend of Pinot Noir, in the beautiful Russian River Valley town of Healdsburg.
You can participate in the Pinot Noir Grand Tasting, with over 100 wineries plus guest Artisan Food Vendors all on the downtown Healdsburg Plaza Square, it’s a Sonoma County wine weekend you won’t want to miss.
The winners of the 2014 Petaluma Pro-Am Homemade Wine Competition will have their wines presented in a featured pairing at a four course dinner in the 160 year old dining room on the 3rd floor of the IOOF Lodge #30 in Petaluma.
Christopher will discuss the wines professionally paired with a succulent dinner menu. The money raised from this event will be used to benefit the Petaluma Historical Library & Museum and the Petaluma IOOF Building Renovation Fund.
There are only 80 tickets available for this unique Petaluma-themed Food & Wine pairing dinner.
Join in for an exclusive evening of Cabernet tasting with the 14 most distinguished Cabernet producers from the Santa Cruz Mountains at the Toll House Hotel in Los Gatos, CA. Cabernet lovers will sip, sample and enjoy an array of new releases and hard to find library wines while enjoying a strolling dinner by Three Degrees Restaurant.
Bid on exclusive auction lot library wines, magnums, private winemaker tours and new releases at our silent auction. Guest will also be able to dine on a wonderful menu.
Vintners in the Santa Cruz Mountains have been producing exceptional Cabernet Sauvignon’s since as early as the mid 1800’s. The Cabernets produced from the Santa Cruz Mountains have a distinct character and style that is original to this Mountainous region. In 1976 the Judgment of Paris wine tasting event helped to catapult Santa Cruz Mountains Cabernet Sauvignons onto the international stage when Monte Bello also known as Ridge Vineyards beat out classified Bordeaux estates like Château Mouton Rothschild, Château Montrose, Château Haut-Brion and Château Léoville-Las Cases in a blind tasting conducted by French wine experts.
Beauregard Vineyards, Burrell School Vineyards, Cooper-Garrod Estate Vineyards, Fernwood Cellars, House Family Vineyards, Kathryn Kennedy Vineyards, Left Bend Winery, Lexington, McCarthy Family Estate Vineyards, Mount Eden Vineyards, Ridge Vineyards, Santa Cruz Mountains Vineyard, Silver Mountain Vineyards, Woodside Vineyards