If you noticed, my favorites were distinctly different than the selected winners, though some of the winners were my second or third choices. (Editor’s Note: Part One ran on this blog on 2/20/16.) It was impressive to see the variety and quality of the best of class entries into the Sweepstakes level of the competition, especially when noticing the price points of the sweepstakes winning wines. The panel I worked with, Bob Ecker and Dick Mercer, were tasked with some fun and interesting wines. We evaluated Chardonnays $10.00-$13.99 and Other Red Varietals on Tuesday. Tasted through Merlot $31-$34.99 and Barbera $20 and above on Wednesday. Then we finished with Pinot Gris/Pinot Grigio over $20 and Petite Sirah $33 and above on Thursday. The afternoons were tough days working our way through young and big bodied red wines, but we were all up for it as our panel all were fans of both Barbera and Petite Sirah.
The first two nights of the competition were highlighted by Judges Dinners. The first on Tuesday night was hosted by Bob Fraser, the co-executive director of the competition. Due to the extreme weather it had to be relocated from his home to the Events Hall on the Cloverdale Citrus Fairgrounds. Even with the move it was an evening of good wine, good food, great company, a bit of blues harmonica and a few Sven and Ollie jokes (courtesy of Kent Rosenblum).
On Wednesday evening the Judges and Competition staff were hosted by the Wilson Family of Artisan Wines at their Mazzocco Winery Facility just outside of Healdsburg, CA. It was an evening of wine from each of the Wilson family of Wineries. This included Mazzocco, Wilson, Matrix, Soda Rock, DeLorimier, Pezzi King, Saint Anne’s Crossing and Jaxon Keyes. The meal was delicious, featuring Short Ribs and Polenta as the featured entree. A great time was had by all and the Wilson family along with the Mazzocco Winemaker, Antoine Favero, were gracious hosts.
The final evening, Thursday night, which is normally a free night for the judges to enjoy local area dinning in Sonoma County, had a new twist. One of our own Judges, Sue Straight (the Winewench as she is known to many) entertained many of her peers by performing with Manzanita Moon, a local area band that she fronts as a vocalist and harmonica player. The band played for a couple of hours at Ruth McGowan’s, a local brew pub in Cloverdale with dancing and general revelry being the evening’s theme.
The week was topped off on Friday morning with the Sweepstakes judging, whose results are listed earlier. There were over 50 judges participating with an audience to observe the finish to 4 days of extensive wine evaluation. It was a great week, as it has been for me for the previous 5 years as a judge.
The great part of this competition is that all of the results are publicly available at the competition’s website winejudging.com. On the site you can find all of the award and medal winners for the competition.
Once again I wish you all the best, as usual I believe, “Life is Too Short to Drink Bad Wine”. Have a Happy and prosperous 2016 and enjoy life! Cheers!