Eve Snakes: The Tasting Panel Magazine’s 5th Annual Tasting Panel Tour, and a Vinturi Travel Aerator! (Featuring a selection of Double Gold Winners from The San Francisco International Wine Competition & The San Francisco World Spirits Competition.)

Last Thursday, at Waterloo & City in Culver City, I attempted to sample as many double gold wine and spirit winners I could in about an hour.  The time constraint is because I don’t want to deal with the traffic home, and for now, these events occur at lunch and not at the time I want: 10 a.m.

It also prevents me, unlike the tousled haired mid-40ish man next to me, from drinking more than my fair share.  I still wonder how tousled-hair got home…

So, what I can share with you here is which wines and spirits I enjoyed the most, some I was even able to note a simple “wow” or “can you say banana?” If you see these on a wine or bar list – drink them:


Perrier-Jouet Champagne NV Blasom Rose, Champagne, France

Raza 2001 Torrentes Sweet Sparkling Wine, Famatina Valley, Argentina, BEST IN SHOW SPARKLING & BEST DEMI-SEC  (I sent Dr. Joel Fisher over to try these as I thought they would be great if he could get them at his LA Wine Fest or our Santa Clarita Valley Wine Fest.)

Bota Box 2009 Riesling, California  (Betting this “Box” could be purchased inexpensively, serve it well chilled and enjoy!)

Turk 2009 Gruner Veltliner, Kremstal, Austria.  (If you’ve never had a Gruner – they grow on you.  This one was great.)

Fritz Winery 2009, Russian River Valley BEST CHARDONNAY

Jenner 2009 Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast

Scheid Vineyards 2008 Pinot Noir Estate, Monterey

Hearst Ranch Winery 2009 Tempranillo, Paso Robles, BEST TEMPRANILLO (And it was!)

Martin Ranch Winery 2009 Malbec, Do Ninas Vineyards, Santa Clara Valley (I grabbed a business card for this one – a really good Malbec.)

Cakebread Cellars, 2008 Merlot, Napa Valley BEST MERLOT

Henson 2008 Syrah, Chalone, California

Bethany Wines, 2005 Shiraz GR10 Reserve, Barossa (I noted that I liked it, and also, for a Shiraz, it was softer than most – pleasantly so.)

Travieso Winery, 2009 Traviesito Red Blend, California

Troublemaker NV Blend 2, Rhone Blend, Paso Robles, BEST RHONE BLEND (I looked at the bottle, it was a Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre – commonly referred to as a GSM blend – with Petit Sirah.  Very nicely done.)

Feather 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley (Yummy.)

Hughes Wellman, 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, BEST CABERNET SAUVIGNON

Benziger 2007 Red Bordeaux Blend, Three Blocks, Sonoma Valley


Crystal Head Vodka, Newfoundland, Canada (I had never had the opportunity to try this, I liked it, perfect neutral spirit, not too hot.  The whole Dan Aykroyd/Ghost connection thing had turned me off to trying it in the past.)

Mozart Dry – Chocolate Spirit, Austria BEST OTHER SPIRIT  (If you are a dark chocolate fan you have to try this!)

ORO Pisco Italia Mosto Verde, Peru BEST PISCO

Kai Young Coconut Shochu, Vietnam, BEST SHOCHU

Kai Lemongrass Ginger Shochu, Vietnam  (I noted this one with a big “YES!”  Similar to my favorite Ginger Liqueur, Domaine de Canton, this one with added lemon was perfect.  And it was another one I sent Joel Fisher over to try.)

Dulce Vida Anejo Tequila, Jalisco, Mexico

Don Julio Real Extra-Aged Anejo Tequila, Mexico, BEST TEQUILA  (This $350 bottle had everything.  Most people at the tasting were clamoring for it and I tweeted out a photo of the beautiful bottle.  In my 50th of an ounce I could only take the time to note the smoothness, the wood flavor and the staggeringly long finish…)

Hacienda de Chihuahua Plata Sotol, Chihuahua, Mexico (Around this time I was guided by Luis Cota, the Tequila/Agave Ambassador for Gemini Spirits & Wine.  It had been a long time since I had gone through a tequila tasting and Luis proved quite helpful.)

Del Maguey Minero Mezcal, Oaxaca, Mexico  (When I noted a lot of peat, like a Scotch, Luis agreed with me… now I had to turn to get closer to those coming up soon in the tasting.)

The Tyrconnell 10 Year Old Single Malt Irish Whiskey (Madeira Finish)  (This was the one I smelled banana in.  But the taste was traditional, very interesting.)

The Tyrconnell 10 Year Old Single Malt Irish Whiskey (Sherry finish)  (If you like sherry casks – this was very similar to Balvenie Single Malt Scotch for me.)

Redbreast 15 Year Old Irish Whiskey, Ireland (Very smoky)

Connemara Cask Strength Irish Whiskey, Ireland

The Dalmore 18 Year Old Single Malt Scotch, Highlands

Camus Cognac VS Elegance, France

Louis Royer Cognac VSOP Preference, Cognac, France  (Nice and nutty.)

Chateau de Laubade Armagnac 1981, BAS Armagnac, France BEST ARMAGNAC (WOWZA!)

Time to go!  But not before collecting my oh-so-freaking-cool Travel Vinturi Aerator that Tasting Panel had arranged as gifts for all of the attendees.  Joining my ever present corkscrew in my purse, from now on if I get a wine by the glass that isn’t opening up fast enough –  I am set!



The San Francisco International Wine Competition is the largest and most prestigious wine competition in the United States. Founded in 1981 by the State of California and privatized in 1999, the SF International Wine Competition is owned and directed by James Beard Award Winner and Editor-in-Chief of The Tasting Panel Magazine, Anthony Dias Blue. It owes its prominence to masterful organization and its outstanding panel of judges.

The San Francisco International Wine Competition took place June 17-10, 2011 at the Hotel Nikko San Francisco. 4184 wines were submitted from 29 countries and 20 states.

For a complete list of Double Gold Winners from the 2011 San Francisco International Wine Competition, click here.


The San Francisco World Spirits Competition is the first comprehensive, international spirits judging ever held in the United States on an annual basis.

Celebrating its 11th year of awarding spirits excellence, the 2011 competition took place on March 18-20, 2011 at the Hotel Nikko San Francisco. 1106 different spirits from 61 countries were evaluated by 33 of the finest palates from the spirits industry, including Founder and Executive Director, Anthony Dias Blue; and Director of Judging, Tony Abou-Ganim.

For a complete list of Double Gold winners from the 2011 San Francisco World Spirits Competition, click here.

Information above provided by The Tasting Panel magazine.

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