There is nothing like a great start to a New Year and 2016 has roared in with style. That strange substance known as rain has returned to California and we are all hoping for the end of the drought. My favorite basketball team, the Golden State Warriors are rolling after a world championship from last year. More significantly, the 2016 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition has just completed its judging in Cloverdale, California. Now each of those things is great in its own right but the Chronicle Wine Competition was huge this year.
How huge was the competition you ask? Well, considering it is currently the largest Wine Judging competition of wine bottled in the United States, it grew almost 700+ entries and had over 7,100 wines competing for awards this year. That is pretty amazing, as was the quality of the wines being judged this year. Overall the week was amazing! It was a time of reconnecting with many judging friends, meeting new participants, experiencing some great food during the judge’s dinners and of course, evaluating new release wines from across the United States.
The big winners were both familiar names and some lesser known but quality producers. I am listing the winners, but will show you my selections in each category in parenthesis, just so you know there is a lot of variety in judges’ opinions. The 2016 Sweepstakes winners were:
Sparkling Wine Winner – Korbel, Brut, California Champagne, Organically grown grapes, $14
(Gloria Ferrer NV Carneros Blanc de Noir, CA, $22)
White Wine Winner – V. Sattui Winery. 2014 Los Carneros Chardonnay, Napa, $38
(Bowers Harbor Vyds 2014 Riesling, Old Mission Vyd, Travers City MI, $15)
Pink/Rose Wine Winner – Barnard Griffin 2015 Rose of Sangiovese Columbia Valley, Washington, $14
(J. Lohr 2014 Gesture, Grenache Rose, Paso Robles, CA, $18)
Red Wine Winner – Runquist 2013 Zinfandel Nostro Vino Vyd Amador Cty, $27
(Santa Barbara Winery 2012 Joughin Vyd, Santa Ynez Valley Lagrein, $32)
Dessert/Specialty Wine Winner – Claar Cellars 2013 Riesling “Ice Wine” White Bluff Vyds, Columbia Valley, WA, $40
(Rancho de Philo NV, Cucamonga Valley, California Triple Cream Sherry, $39)
Wine Label Winner – Scratchpad 2014 Sauvignon Blanc, Central Coast, CA
If you noticed, my favorites were my favorites were distinctly different than…(read From Wine Judge Rick Fraga: 2016 SF Chronicle Wine Comp, Part Two here on 2/27/16)