By now, the results of the 2015 San Francisco International Wine Competition should be available for your perusal. Once again I had the pleasure of being one of the hired hands on deck to judge at SFIWC, this being my second time donning the white lab coat for this famous event, celebrating its 35th (!) year.
I have much love and praise for SFIWC, which has got to be one of the best-run wine competitions in North America (and, in my own personal experience, globally), thanks in no small part to the efforts of the tough, mighty, and inimitable Chandler Moore, who, behind the scenes, pretty much ensures that all runs smoothly, and makes the entire SFIWC “go” without a hitch.
This year, I felt a little more at home, a little more accomplished as a wine comp judge (having had quite a few more under my belt since last year’s event), and a little more of an “insider” (getting invited to the traditional local watering hole for beers after each day of “work” was, I thought, I sort of mini rite of passage… also, I fell compelled to point out that nothing – nothing – tastes better than a good beer after a full day of judging wine).
Because I am a geek, mental notes were taken on some of the blind-tasted wines that I found particularly interesting from my own panel’s days at the SFIWC “office,” so I’ve highlighted some of those Double Gold selections (receiving unanimous Gold medal awards from all of our panel members) below, after the jump. These are not necessarily the wines that performed the best in our panels or the comp. in general, but stood out to me as being particularly noteworthy / enjoyable / made me wanna get my buzz and swervy on, etc.
Let the reco’s commence!…
2014 Toi Toi Wines Sauvignon Blanc (Marlborough, $14)
Also taking to NZ the Best Sauvignon Blanc title. It’s classic S. Hemi. SB all the way: pithy grapefruit, nettle, green herbs, exotic fruits, and an almost obnoxiously potent nose. A generous wine with a lot to love… and you probably know many, many people who will love this bargain.
2014 Barboursville Vineyards Reserve Vermentino (Virginia, $24)
While it lacks the mineral-and-nuts bite of its Italian counterparts, there’s no doubting this wine, and, perhaps, a decent future for one of my fave white grapes in the humid climes of VA. Hints of toast, with more than a few hints of vibrant, tropical fruit goodness.
2014 Sean Minor Wines 4Bears Pinot Noir Rosé (Carneros, $16)
On the nose, it whispers, where others decide to shout, but lacks for nothing in its move away from being bombastic. I loved the cherry & citrus palate action of this overachieving little pink gem.
2013 Van Duzer Vineyards Estate Pinot Noir (Willamette Valley, $28)
Yeah, it’s woody, but it’s also energetic and young, and it will disappear quite quickly if you open it anywhere near a group of Pacific NW Pinot fans. There’s lovely red berry fruit action, about which this Pinot is anything but shy, and a veeeery nice finish with more length than you might expect for a hair under $30.
2013 Delicato Family Vineyards Black Stallion Pinot Noir (Los Carneros, $35)
This Pinot showed particularly well during our lab coat donned tasting, I thought. It’s PN that’s very generous, very sexy, very fruity, and probably best consumed with California-styled gourmet burgers fresh off the grill.
2012 J. Lohr Vineyards and Wines Hilltop Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon (Paso Robles, $28)
Tomato leaf, sweet cassis, dark plummy fruits, and great structure; those were the hallmarks of this Cab, and actually were the hallmarks of many of the excellent Cabs that we were lucky enough to taste during the competition (I also helped whittle down the field of Cabs during the ‘super tasting’ round, which decides which Double Gold winners are sent up to sweepstakes to vie for Best Of Show honors… that lineup was fierce amounts of good). A great example of the dusty, well-rounded, ripe tannin action that defines very good Paso Cabernet.
2012 Broken Earth Winery Cabernet Sauvignon (Paso Robles, $20)
Kudos to you, Paso. This one is earthy and very powerful (put the big boy/girl drinker pants on for this one), but really shines due to an excellent minerality on the nose and an undercurrent of acidity on the palate.