Category Archives: Uncategorized

International Chardonnay Symposium on May 12-14

I am getting ready for another trip to the lovely Central Coast.  This time for The Chardonnay Symposium, May 12 through 14, in the coastal resort towns of Pismo Beach and Avila Beach.

I will be moderating the seminar Taste the Difference: Exploring California’s Distinct Chardonnay Regions on Saturday (10am to 11:30am) at Edna Valley Vineyard, where I will talk about how climate, soil and elevation influence each of these five world-class regions and how to determine the origin by simply nosing and tasting the wine.

However there will be a fabulous selection of events and locations to attend starting on Thursday, here is the list, with more details on each HERE:

Thursday
Vintners Wine Tech Symposium (9:00am–4:00pm)
Sommelier Chardonnay Challenge (10:00am–3:00pm)

Friday
French Forum: Exploring The Wonders of French Chardonnay-lunch included (11:00am–1:30pm)
Wente Clone Comparative Tasting (2:00pm–3:30pm)
Pét-Nat, Sparkling Wine & Oysters Gala (4:00pm–6:00pm)
La Paulée Dinner and Vintners Awards Ceremony (7:00pm–10:00pm)

Saturday
Hone Your Chardonnay Blind-Tasting Skills (10:30am-12:30pm)
What’s Oak Got To Do With It? (11:00am–12:30pm)
Pairing Chardonnay & Artisanal Cheese (11:30am–1:00pm)
Saturday Grand Tasting (1:00pm–5:00pm)
Winemaker Dinners (7:00pm–9:00pm)

Hope you are able to join me for this exciting event!
Cheers, Christopher

 

2016 North Coast Wine Challenge Results!

The fabulous panels for the 2016 North Coast Wine Challenge.
The fabulous panels for the 2016 North Coast Wine Challenge.

Spectacular finish to the North Coast Wine Challenge with some of the finest wine judges in America. Our team sent the top red & white wine winners to the final round and the 2012, 2013 & 2014 vintages were brilliant.

Enjoying the fabulous Judges Dinner at MacMurray Ranch in Russian River Valley.
Enjoying the fabulous Judges Dinner at MacMurray Ranch in Russian River Valley.
My fellow judges and two of my favorite people in the wine industry: Traci Dutton, Manager of Wine & Beverage Studies at the Rudd Center at the Culinary Institute of America Greystone, and Master Sommelier Fred Dame.
My fellow judges and two of my favorite people in the wine industry: Traci Dutton, Manager of Wine & Beverage Studies at the Rudd Center at the Culinary Institute of America Greystone, and Master Sommelier Fred Dame.

The big winners have been published in the Press Democrat in this article by Diane Peterson:

Find the entire winners’ list is HERE!
Cheers! Christopher

 

Wine Radio! Tune in to Talk910 for Somm Talk today. . .March 19th

JRNew.phpJoel Riddell talks Flavor! Napa Valley starting today at 1:15, you can listen via the Dining Around link or on the airwaves at Talk910.  Listen for his interviews with winemakers, chefs and, at 2pm, myself and Master Sommelier Gillian Balance!  Gillian is on the panel for High Elevation Wines Part 1 and The Rhone Zone wine classes:  Listen, learn and join one of our classes!

Cheers! Christopher

Oregon Chardonnay Celebration, Feb 27 in Newberg, OR

Pack your bags, and book a flight for the 5th annual Oregon Chardonnay Celebration!  This year there will be 48 Chardonnay producers featured  this coming Saturday, February 27th at the Allison Inn & Spa in Newberg, Oregon.

I have yet to attend this event but have enjoyed my affiliation with the Chardonnay group through other OR ventures.  This year, the tasting explores the role of the winemaker in presenting the character of this elegant white grape.

Elaine Brown guides through a focused tasting of five winemakers’ interpretation of Durant Vineyard’s 2014 Chardonnay.  A Grand Tasting of over 40 of Oregon’s top Chardonnay producers will follow, accompanied by small bites from Sunny Jin, executive chef at Jory at The Allison Inn & Spa.  Purchase tickets HERE!

Where to be next Wednesday April 8th!

Muscardini Wine Experience with Christopher Sawyer

Your favorite Sommelier will be leading a wine experience like no other. Imparting knowledge of wine and more as we journey through Muscardini wine and food pairings by Chef Catherine Venturini Olive & Vine.

April 8 – Wednesday 6-8PM

Muscardini: The Red School House

9380 Sonoma Highway, Kenwood, California

To RSVP email alice@muscardinicellars.com or call 707.933.9305

Only 20 seats available

Price is $60/person $45/WINE CLUB MEMBERS

JOIN THE CLUB!

Holiday Wine Joy: Grand Harvest Awards Announces 2014 Winners

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).

The Madara Horseman on the label of the Miro Cellars 2012 Petite Sirah is based on a Bulgarian monument carved in bas relief on a cliff twenty three meters above ground. This mysterious sculpture was created at the beginning of the eighth century during the birth of the Bulgarian nation.
The Madara Horseman on the Miro Cellars label is based on a Bulgarian monument carved in bas relief on a cliff twenty three meters above ground. This mysterious sculpture was created at the beginning of the eighth century during the birth of the Bulgarian nation.

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.

sweepstakes

 

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 Spirit from Grapes: Petroni Vineyards, Grappa di Lorenzo, Sonoma Valley ($45) . www.PetroniVineyards.com.

Best Fruit Wine: Heritage Vineyards, Jersey Blueberry, Outer Coastal Plain ($10.99). www.HeritageWineNJ.com.

Best Late Harvest/Dessert Wine: Stephen & Walker Winery, 2012 Chardonnay Botrytis, Mendocino Ridge (Tbd). www.trustwine.com.

For more juicy information…

Sonoma Valley represented: Hamming it up with Winemaker Michael Muscardini of Muscardini Cellars and Winemaker Katie Madigan of St. Francis Winery.
Sonoma Valley represented: Hamming it up with Winemaker Michael Muscardini of Muscardini Cellars and Winemaker Katie Madigan of St. Francis Winery.

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.

Dazzling  Judges Dinner menu prepared by Rosso Pizzeria at Paradise Ridge Winery.
Dazzling Judges Dinner menu prepared by Rosso Pizzeria at Paradise Ridge Winery.

“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.”

Full results for the competition are posted on www.winecompetitions.com, a website developed by EnofileOnline for Vineyard & Winery Management to house all six of its wine competitions, and on www.enofileonline.com.

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.