During my recent travels in Piedmont, I was part of a (rather large) media group that took part in a “Barbera Revolution” masterclass, held in the small town of Nizza Monferrato, organized by the Consorzio Barbera d’Asti e vini del Monferrato. There was nothing about that tasting of 2016 vintage releases to make me personally think that Barbera was undergoing some sort of quality revolution; likely a result of the fact that, given my history with the region, I was already convinced that Barbera in Asti was experiencing a quality renaissance.
So, no arms were taken up during the sampling of these 2016, but we did take up several glasses of promising Asti reds. Now that my stint with the My Name is Barbera program has wrapped up (for now, anyway), I felt comfy in taking a more critical eye on some of the latest Barbera d’Asti releases (not that you can ever fully take the critical eye from the critical guy, but I’ve generally avoided talking about Piedmonte Barbera here on 1WD while I was cashing checks for the video and blog work over at mynameisbarbera.com).
Here are my personal highlights from the tasting, many of which I think have been given short shrift from other critics in the past, and others that might be looking for US representation (importers… I’m looking at you!)…
Late last year, I had the pleasure (once again) of pretending to be an all-growed-up wine pro judging alongside some very notable palates at the 38th annual San Francisco International Wine Competition.
Judging the SFIWC almost always ends up being one of my favorite events of the entire year, and despite quite a bit of behind-the-scenes personnel changes, the competition didn’t skip a beat; I had a blast, with the only downer being the inundation of the city streets by the ominous smoke from the nearby Camp Fire (terribly, California’s deadliest and most destructive to date).
The results of the 2018 SFIWC have been announced, so I am officially allowed to share them with you. Here are some thoughts on the Best In Show winners, which are determined after going through 1) two days of normal judging panels, 2) “super tastings” of judges from multiple panels (meant to whittle down the field of wines deemed excellent enough to potentially vie for Best In Show ), and finally 3) a lively and spirited sweepstakes round in which the the most awarded wines are pitted against one another…
Before I do, however… a couple of thoughts/insights/dime-store-philosphocal-treatise on the experience of the OW Experience:
Wildfires suck; we hardly saw a clear, smoke-free day during the competition, and while the ever-present used-fireplace smell is somewhat pleasant, the destruction behind it all certainly isn’t anything short of tragic, and major props are due to the firefighters who shared my flights into and out of Medford for their difficult, tireless work in fighting the recent blazes.
There’s (much) more to Oregon than Willamette Valley. Duh. Southern Oregon is a lot smaller in volume, less developed in both land and sense of place, warmer in climate, and diverse in potential vinous offerings than its more famous northern wine AVA siblings. What should have wine geeks excited and giddy is that the premium fine wine scene in S. OR is really just getting its groove on, and the results are ridiculously promising already. The fact that the region is probably among the top ten most beautiful wine country settings in the world is just icing on the cake. To wit…
You’ll see a lot more coverage of some key S. OR producers here over the coming weeks, because I found their stories – and their development in wine quality – quite compelling. More to come.
Anyway, here are some of the wines that wowed our judging panels at the 2018 OWE Competition…
We can surely file this one in the I-still-can’t-believe-that-I’ve-fooled-everyone-for-so-long pile: I’ve been asked to judge yet another wine competition. This time, it’s the 2018 incarnation of The Oregon Wine Competition, part of the more comprehensive Oregon Wine Experience, taking place August 20-26, 2018 in Jacksonville, OR, and benefiting Asante Foundation and Asante’s Children’s Miracle Network.
I’m looking forward to getting my mouth (and the rest of me) back in OR, and to putting the competition’s 100% Oregon AVA wines under the palate microscope (palmiscope?). In that latter regard, I’ll be joining five distinguished members of the wine biz who are also judging, and most of whom have much more impressive initials after their surnames than I do.
For those of you reading this who have OR wine that they’d like to enter, here are the pertinent details. (note that only wines composed of 100% grapes grown in officially-recognized Oregon AVAs, with TTB-approved labels, and produced by Oregon-licensed wineries are eligible).
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