I was happy to return as a judge for the Oregon State Fair's wine competition. As usual, Elaine Lisle and Desa Swaim did an incredible job with the volunteers, organization and excellent treatment of their judges. The pre-judging dinner at Bentley's in Salem is always a treat because it features gold medal winners from the prior year. Sommelier Brian Kemmerle, a fellow judge, and chef Derek Ridgway do an excellent job pairing wine with the cuisine.
Some highlights included tasting the Italian varieties from Cana's Feast by winemaker, Patrick Taylor. And of course Stoller Vineyards' 2006 SV Estate Pinot Noir being awarded "Best Red of Show". (No, I had no idea which of the many Pinot Noirs was my client's because this was a blind tasting :)
It's always interesting to compare your judging notes with the overall medal list. As I wrote after the WA wine competition, there isn't a lot of time to savor these wines, so my notes are my 30 second to one minute impressions. Here I present my personal "Golds":
Phelps Creek 2009 Gewurtztraminer
Mineral, fresh rain, oregano and white peach aromas. Pretty tangerine and lime notes in mouth. Delicious with great acid!
Phelps Creek 2008 Chardonnay
Deep golden delicious and red apple. Nice oak integration with spice and good length. Best white of show/Best wine of show.
Shadow Mountain Vineyards 2009 Pinot Gris
Very inviting notes with pretty lemon-lime and fresh rain aromas. Bright acidity with a crisp mouthfeel with a touch of almond on the finish. More of a Grigio style -- fun and sexy.
Firesteed 2008 Rose of Pinot Noir
Ripe strawberry, sour cherry, floral and herbal aromas. Strawberry really comes through in mouth with nice acid structure -- refreshing.
August Cellars 2006 Pinot Noir
Deep, inviting red cherry, raspberry and baking spices -- multiple layers. Some good stewed fruit notes with a touch of fresh tomato, cherry and a nice minty/herbal character. Long finish.
Stoller Vineyards 2006 SV Pinot Noir
Very inviting, sweet black cherry jam, tea leaves, curing tobacco, earth with a hint of dusty character. Ripe, rich and round with a long finish.
Stoller Vineyards 2007 JV Pinot Noir
Deep, beautiful ripe, brambly raspberry, cherry and espresso aromas. Espresso turns to toffee and mocha in mouth which has rich feel. Love this nose! Nice balance and smooth finish.
Evergreen Vineyards 2008 Pinot Noir
Brambly with raspberry, cherry and fresh leather aromas. Deeper black cherry with earthy/forest floor and baking spice in mouth. NICE.
Cana's Feast 2007 Sangiovese
Deep red berry, leather, sweet curing tobacco with white pepper. Nice, dusty mouthfeel with raspberry and great acid. A terrific food wine with a long finish. What more could you want in a domestic Sangiovese?!! Best one I've ever tried.
Cana's Feast 2007 Nebbiolo
Blueberry, cherry, raspberry jam; smoke and moss. Good acid/tannin balance. Nice present finish -- still juicy so more time left to age in bottle.
Ribera Vineyards 2007 Merlot
Very concentrated aromas of stewed plum, fresh leather, clay. Delicious soft and round mouth with big fruit flavors retaining complexity of nose. Silky, velvety and round.
Cana's Feast 2007 Counoise
Peppery fabulousness. Red cherry, blackberry. Ripe with good acid.
Devitt Winery 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon
Plum, bark, blackberry, clove, olive, mint and a little je ne saisstank. What a nose! Ripe fruit with good balance. Love the mouthfeel. What a delicious glass of wine!
Stone Wolfe Vineyards 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon
Blackberry, black cherry, fresh leather, tobacco, eucalyptus. Very focused, fine ripe sweet fruit with peppery note and silky mouthfeel. Good tannic structure and balance. Long finish.
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