As you read this, I’ll be fresh (or maybe not-so-fresh, after thinking about the stamina-melting temperatures, and lengthy after-after parties!) from the 2011 Wine Bloggers Conference – and after about 24 hours at the homestead, immediately off to Lake County, CA where I’ll be a judging in the 2011 Lake County Wine Awards Competition.
The deal goes down on July 28 at Brassfield Estate Winery in Clearlake Oaks (gotta love town names that make multiple bucolic references!). It will mark the first time that I’ve been in any way involved in an area’s sesquicentennial celebration, by the way (I’m guessing there aren’t too many of those going around).
Several things attracted me to this gig, not the least of them being the fact that the competition doesn’t really deal in medals or trophies that have little consumer meaning – just the opposite, in fact. From the website:
[On] November 5, 2011, a consumer event will be held at Langtry Estate & Vineyards—People’s Choice Wine Awards—where the people get to ‘blind taste’ the judges top picks and select the “People’s Choice.”
In other words, after the judges’ faves are revealed and promoted, the real winners are picked from that bunch in a large blind tasting where consumers decide who gets top honors. That’s awesome.
The competition is meant to showcase wines that specifically state Lake County or a Lake County AVA on the label. That means, generally, wines from high-elevation vineyards, and for me personally, wines with some pretty high expectations…
My previous experiences with Lake County wines have been by no means extensive, but by any measure overwhelmingly positive.
Snows Lake “Two” – particularly the 2005 vintage which is an exceptional wine – was for a good long while the lowest-priced ($45) “A”-rated wine I’d ever tasted, and it remains a ridiculous bargain. Other producers stand out in my memory as providing great QPR from LC, like Rosa D’Oro (try their Muscat Canelli), and Benziger (who offer a 2009 Sauvignon Blanc made partially form LC grapes).
Sure, LC has thrown the occasional duck my way, but the vast percentage is far outside of the Dark Side Of The Force territory. So generally I’m stoked to see what LC will be bringing to the judges table this week.
I’m also pretty stoked to be included in the 2011 panel of judges, because the talent level (yours truly excluded, of course!) is sky-high. Included this year among that group are Mike Dunne (who was in the unenviable position of sharing a flat with me in Santiago when I was battling the Chilean version of Montezuma’s Revenge), Enobytes.org co-founder Pamela Heligenthal, Deborah Parker Wong, fellow Uncorked contributors Tina Caputo and Virginie Boone, and a guy who I’ve had a major man-crush on for years, the über-talented Randy Caparoso.
As always, I’ll try to keep up, do my best to treat the proceedings with as much seriousness as possible without taking myself too seriously, and mostly plan on learning as much as I can by watching my fellow judges.
Much more to come!