Random thoughts while scrolling through the newly released results of the 2011 Dallas Morning News/TexSom Wine Competition, concentrating largely on gold-medal wines:
- Judges really liked pinot noir from the 2009 vintage. They awarded 17 gold medals to the group. A surprising number of the golds went to such value labels as Cupcake Vineyards, Redwood Creek, Forest Glen, Cono Sur and most notably for fans of Superior California wines, the McManis Family Vineyards 2009 California Pinot Noir, which customarily sells for around $10. (McManis Family Vineyards is at Ripon.)
- Just two other regional wineries won gold - Michael-David Vineyards at Lodi for its Earthquake 2007 Lodi Cabernet Sauvignon, one of just five gold medals awarded the vintage, and Fasi Estate Vineyard of Fresno for its 2007 Madera Private Reserve Fasi Crest Syrah, one of just five golds dispersed among entries from the 2007 vintage.
- No other local winery won gold, not even for petite sirah, primitivo, sangiovese, zinfandel and barbera, all highly regarded varietals coming out of the Sierra foothills, the Delta and Lodi. What's the issue? In glancing at the entire rundown of medal winners, I suspect the lack of gold and even silver and bronze for local wineries simply reflects the lack of entries from the area. Only a handful of local wineries came up with the entry fees for Dallas, which could say a number of things. For one, wineries could be cutting back on the number of competitions or wines they enter, given the unsteady economy. They also may not be seeing much in the way of benefits from even a strong showing in such a far-removed competition, however prestigious it may be.
- Aside from the local results, I was gratified to see gold medals go to a couple of wines from a winery I visited recently in Chile, Emiliana Organic Vineyards. Their wines that showed exceptionally well at Dallas were the Emiliana Organic Vineyards 2009 Valle de Casablanca Eco Balance Chardonnay and the Emiliana Organic Vineyards 2009 Valle de Colchagua Natura Carmenere. I didn't taste either at the winery, but can say that the sweetly fruity, lightly minty and delicately spiced 2010 version of the Natura carmenere is a terrific introduction to the varietal at $11. What's more, two other releases under Emiliana's Eco Balance label - the lean, sunny and deceptively complex 2010 Valle Central Cabernet Sauvignon and the crispy and limey 2010 Bio Bio Valley Sauvignon Blanc - are extraordinarily fresh and vivacious takes on the varietals, even at a mere $8 the bottle in the U.S. They may be a bit difficult to find, however, given the shrinking value of the U.S. dollar compared with the Chilean peso, prompting the folks at Emiliana to concentrate more on exports to European markets.
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