I don’t post this out of vanity; I know I’m not that good liking, but out of shameless self-promotion. Not all of us can get as much free cyber ink as Gary V. Think one of the big wine Internet aggregators will pick this up?
The other thing I like about the drawing is that I got to play the good cop in the good cop-bad cop discussion that Doug and I had about Texas wine, something that usually doesn’t happen. Hard to believe, isn’t it, that I always get to be bad cop.
And the artwork was created by Dallas’ Michael Hogue for The Dallas Morning News.
The link is here — you can search the medals by category or download a PDF. My post, after judging the competition, noted: "Also impressive this year: The qualifications of the judges, which made the Wine Curmudgeon feel like a high school student at post-graduate seminar on particle physics."
One quick recommendation: The Ken Forrester Petit Chenin Blanc from South Africa, which retails for about $12. My panel gave it a silver medal — crisp, clean, refreshing and throughly well-made, with lots of green apple. If I can find it for $10, it's in the Hall of Fame.
We did norton. We did catawba. We did baco noir. We did chambourcin. We did traminette. We did blanc du bois. We did chardonel. And we gave gold medals. The norton was classic, and the vidal was a beautful wine — rich and full, with a grassy aroma and acid to balance the fullness. In some ways, this was among the best group of hybrids and natives that I've judged over the past several years. They were professionally made, competent, and varietally correct. There were disappointments, certainly, and especially among the blanc du bois, but that's the nature of judging this group of grapes.
We also did Spanish varietals, and awarded golds to two tempranillos and an albarino. A chenin blanc, meanwhile, got a silver, and when I find out what it is (the results won't be released for a month or so), I'm going to buy some. If it's $10, it's Hall of Fame worthy.
Also impressive this year: The qualifications of the judges, which made the Wine Curmudgeon feel like a high school student at post-graduate seminar on particle physics. We had a PhD. We had Master Sommeliers. We had Masters of Wine. In all, 23 of the 56 judges had initials after their names, easily the best credentialed group in the six or seven years I've been judging wine competitions.
The cyber ether is ablaze with discussion about this week’s Grape and Gridiron Classic, which paired Texas and New York wines in a blind tasting. We tasted 11 wines, and the participants preferred the Texas wines eight times. We wuz robbed, wrote some New York bloggers, while others claimed the fix was in. Some of the Texas writers went overboard in the other direction; Lone Star pride, no doubt, or salve for the Cowboys’ woeful season.
Yes, the result was surprising (and more on that later). Even more surprising? That people could think that the Wine Curmudgeon would be involved in something that wasn’t 100 percent aboveboard. Question my passion for cheap wine or that I really like the Ramones. But my integrity? I think not, and I have 25 years of doing the right thing to back that up. More, after the jump:
The two competitions couldn’t have been more different. The first, in Denver, was to pick the wines to be served at a major event for the governor. It was the first year for the tasting, and was much less formal than many I’ve judged. The second, on the campus of Purdue University, is one of the most important competitions in the United States — complete with lab coat.
You can read my reports for Denver and Indianapolis (results here). Generally, the quality of all the wines was quite good. It has been several years since I tasted in Colorado, and the wines are getting better. The state’s winemakers are figuring out which grapes work best with the area’s high altitude and unpredictable weather.
Indianapolis was, well, Indianapolis. I was in Wine Curmudgeon heaven for 2 1/2 days, sifting through flights of things like seyval blanc, steuben, and sparkling honey wine. How much fun was it? It was so much fun that I hope I get invited back next year. I should also note that chief judge Christian Butzke does a nice standup act, and that it is apparently quite an honor when he comes over and fusses at you during the judging. It will serve me right for tweeting.
The Wine Curmudgeon will spend much of the next 10 days sipping and spitting in the interest of wine. I’ll be at the Colorado state competition this weekend, helping to pick the best Colorado wines. And next week is the biggie — the Indy International Wine Competition, the be all and end all for regional wine, weird grapes and all of the things that I love about wine.
If there is an obscure grape that is used to make wine, then we’ll be judging it at Indy. Yes, there will be chardonnay flights, but there will also be chardonel, vidal blanc and seyval blanc flights. That I was asked to judge is quite an honor; the list of judges includes some of the biggest names in regional wine, including Missouri’s Doug Frost, New York’s Jim Trezise, and Indiana’s Richard Vine.
My schedule is so hectic, in fact, that I had to turn down another great competition — the International Cold Climate Wine Competition, which allows only wines made with grapes that can survive a Minnesota winter. Frontenac, anyone?
I’ll have reports on each competition when I get back, and the blog will roll along while I’m traveling with the usual features.
The Lone Star competition is the first event ever that the Wine Curmudgeon judged, which is why I’m always so glad to return each year. It runs today and tomorrow, with a huge Twitter Taste-off featuring the medal-winning wines on Tuesday. Yes, I’m going to Twitter — @wine_curmudgeon.
The competition is run by the Texas Wine and Grape Growers Association, and features Texas and regional wines. But since it’s international, it includes wine from California and other foreign countries. I’ll have a full report later this week.