Mar 092012
 

Monterey Wine CompetitionThe Monterey Wine Competition began in 1994, and I have judged all but two years of that run, making me one of the real old timers in the crew. And it’s the one competition that I really try to make every year. Held not in Monterey or even Salinas, this one is in King City, which is miles from everything except some of the more memorable vineyards in the state. The whole town shows up to make the judges feel welcome, and it must be one of the high points of the social season there. In some ways, it is for us, too!

And the judges are wonderful–dear friends who share wine, food, jokes and stories from year to year. This year I was on a panel with Ron Rawlinson, who has been a retailer, winery sales manager, Cal Poly marketing instructor, and great friend for nearly 20 years; and Traci Dutton, the remarkable and wonderful wine buyer and sommelier for the Culinary Institute of America for years. She is the one who buys the wines for the classes I teach there—and makes that a pleasure every single time.

So what did we like? Well, like all judges, we disagreed on some wines. But there were at least ten wines in the sweepstakes round alone that really got my attention:

I loved the:

  • Best Blanc De Blanc – Baileyana Winery Cuvee 1909, Firepeak Vineyard Edna Valley

Made by Christian Roguenant—a dear friend who has judged this competition for years. He is often asked to judge the sparkling wines, and his wines often wine awards. So this year the sparkling panel did not include Christian. And his wines won again. But even more impressive were the Gloria Ferrer sparklers. I love these wines, and four of them were either platinum medals or Best of Show. Not bad, eh?

Navarro Winery continues to make consistently great Gewurztraminer, and so it was no surprise theirs won this category

But the best white wine award went to Zocker’s new Gruner Veltliner….made by that same Christian Roguenant

  • Zocker 2010 Gruner Veltliner, Paragon Vineyards Edna Valley

 

This was a lovely Bordeaux blend wine, and I voted for it as the best red wine of the competition. Yummy fruit, great balance, delightful wine.

And for pure Cabernet, the V Sattui was also nice. Dario and his crew consistently wine medals at major competitions…much to the surprise of many of his Napa Valley neighbors. They also got a platinum medal for their Petite Sirah.

In the dessert wine category, I loved two of the wines:

Delicious, with enough grip to be serious, although I do regret their decision to call it Port. It does not come from Portugal

And even better was this wine from New York State…how great is it that we are seeing such wonderful wines from other states?

And one that got a platinum medal but somehow didn’t make it into the sweepstakes round:

Year in and year out, one of the most consistently good bottles of wine you can buy

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