14 February, 2010

How About a Little Competition: "Let's Get Ready to Rumble!!!"

Yep! We're excited and ready for a fight. OK..well, not so much of a fight, but more of a judgment in the SF Chronicle Wine Competition. While the official judging took place many weeks ago, the results were just published, and the public tasting, where you and I can taste many of the medal winners is just a week away - Saturday, Feb 20th from 2-5 PM.

There's unlimited food tastings from the Savor California folks and their partners, and of course, the opportunity to taste some great wine from the best of 4800 entries from 1200 individual wineries.

I like the idea of the competition in that it brings some value, that is, QPR, into the mix. Wines are judged against other wines in price ranges of each wine category. Sure, if one has unlimited money, some pretty fabulous wine is available to purchase, but for me, I'm (I guess obviously...) looking for something that's better than good and is about $20Bucks.

You'll find some very interesting and diverse award winners this year from several wine growing regions including NewYork's Finger Lakes (see below), New Mexico and even Snipes Mountain, the newest AVA in Washington's Yakima Valley.

I'm really interested in tasting a few things that promise to be extremely interesting not only that they were rated well, but also that their prices are extremely reasonable.

First, the 2008 McDowell Viognier Rousanne. It won Best of Class for Viognier, and retails for $22. Viognier is an excellent choice for white in the Fall and Winter.

Next, the 2007 Yamhill-Carlton Elodian Pinot Noir from Tom Eddy - retails at $28. Those of you who know me know my love for Oregon Pinot, and a top rated Oregon Pinot for around $20Bucks is a MUST TRY for me.

And last, but not least, the 2008 Finger Lakes Gewurtztraminer from Keuka Springs Vineyards, which retails at $16 and earned the "White Sweepstakes"award

That's right! The top white wine in the competition:
a) retails for $16
b) is not Chardonnay
c) is from Finger Lakes, NY, not California.

Wow! DIVERSITY, in a big way!

I hope you'll get a chance to have some fun on the water in San Francisco at the Fort Mason Center and taste the best of the best...and I hope to have the opportunity to enjoy a taste or two with you. Please give me YOUR tips or if you see me there, let's have a taste of what you think is great.



(photos (c) Brenda Hawkes, Hawkes Photography)

03 February, 2010

TasteLive: Ridge Lytton Springs - Jan 9, 2010

TasteLive (#TTL) is an ongoing event that pairs wineries and their selections with wine bloggers on a semi-regular basis. Right now, there seem to be about 4-6 events per month with several wineries and coordinated with different locales (East Coast/West Coast) for logistics purposes.  

I was invited to participate in the recent #TTL event for Ridge Wines where nearly 40 folks participated at several locations including their SouthBay tasting room, their Lytton Springs tasting room, and many online. I joined friends Jack, Pedro and Marcy to taste thru the 4 wines that Ridge sent to me to participate. Following the description of each of the 4 wines are my tweets that were live from the event.  

First was the 2007 Santa Cruz Mountains Estate Chardonnay.  

music goin' - wines open - all good here in H'Burg.#ridgewines 
5:00 PM Jan 10th from Taste Live

Chard is interesting. Have it cool in a bucket and enjoy the subtle notes. Not so much when it warmed up for 15 mins. #ridgewines
5:04 PM Jan 10th from Taste Live  

Lots of french oak lending honeydew...also baby asprin and green fruit #ridgewines 5:06 PM Jan 10th from Taste Live

I really liked the baby asprin and green fruit notes: green apples, pears, green table grapes. RJ, what did you think of the nose when it was cool. #ridgewines 5:07 PM Jan 10th from Taste Live  

(here referring to RJ Hilgers of rjswineblog.com, also tasting online at the time)

Anyone getting the chinese bitter melon once it's warmed up for 10 mins or so? #ridgewines
5:09 PM Jan 10th from Taste Live

This was quite interesting...we started with it chilled in a bucket as it and interetingly, I preferred both the balance and aromas when it was cooler. I usually find most chilled wines too cold for their own good...this one seems to work better on the cooler side. First time for everything and great example of listening to your palate and the wine, not what's the norm.

Next was the 2007 Buchigni Ranch Carignane.
Carignane has lovely nose...bright red fruit, good acids #ridgewines
5:14 PM Jan 10th from Taste Live

Carignane - great boysenberry front....clean, not sloppy...structure's nice. #ridgewines
5:14 PM Jan 10th from Taste Live

The Carignane was a pleasant bottle. Really needs some rustic food to show itself off well. It's available on the Ridge website to their ATP members and is a decent value if you plan to have it with a meal. I'd not drink this alone. Retail: $28 Grade: B-  

Next was the 2006 California Zinfandel - Caboose

OK..caboose ready to go...let's see w'happens. #ridgewines
5:25 PM Jan 10th from Taste Live  

Yep...with 14.9%, we're gettin' candy...gummy bear in the nose. #ridgewines
5:26 PM Jan 10th from Taste Live

WOndering if any of this is not done in oak. #ridgewines 
5:30 PM Jan 10th from Taste Live

So, let's warm this up with hands and see if we can change things up a bit? #ridgewines
5:31 PM Jan 10th from Taste Live  

@enobytes Yep...I'm thinking we need to decant. Not sure if I'd do this with food.....what's the retail of the #caboose #ttl#ridgewines
5:37 PM Jan 10th from TweetDeck in reply to enobytes

Our final wine for the event was the 2007 Ridge 
Lytton Springs, a blend of Zin, Petit Sirah and Carignane. I really enjoy a rich blend like this. It's a bit more than a Rhone blend with the high percentage of Zin, but if you do enjoy Rhone blends, perhaps give this a whirl.  

The #cougar cheddar is also running great with the LS. Love it! #ridgewines 5:46 PM Jan 10th from Taste Live  

Thanks to Ridge and @ridgels for a great time. #ridgewines 5:59 PM Jan 10th from Taste Live

Again, thanks to Melissa Baker and the Ridge crew for providing the wine and to Craig Drolett and the #ttl gang for organizing.