International Eastern Wine competition results

Paul Geisz II, Peter Bell, the Wine Curmudgeon, and Phil Ward. Do we look professional or what? The Wine Curmudgeon can ?t decide if the highlight of the the 34th annual competition was the quality of the regional wine we tasted, how many cheap wines won gold medals, or the picture of me in a lab coat.

Probably the first two.

I don ?t think there is any doubt that New York wine, and especially the rieslings, can hold its own with wine from any other region in the world. Yes, some of it is still ?regional ? ? inconsistent and too tasting room in style. But there is a solid tier of affordable, well-made wine that ?s worth writing about. I hope that the wine media in New York is paying attention, and doesn ?t automatically opt for California wine when there is New York wine available.

And the cheap wine? Oh my. One of the finalists for the competition ?s best red wine was a $10 merlot from a Central Coast winery, Five Rivers. It didn ?t win, but I liked it more than the wine that did win.

After the jump, some highlights from the competition.

The results are here. There are some terrific wines in the list ? and many are from grapes and places that most of us have not heard of:

? Blind tasting, once again, is a fabulous thing. My panel gave a double gold medal to Sheffield cream sherry, owned by Gallo, that sells for $7.

? The dessert wines were fabulous. They may be difficult to find, but look for Ripken Vineyards Late Harvest Viognier (about $20), which was best dessert wine, and Boyden Valley Winery ?s Apple Ice Cider (about $40) ? and from Vermont, no less.

? Tierce, in New York ?s Finger Lakes, was the riesling star. Its 2006 won best dry riesling, the riesling championship, and was named the competition ?s best white wine. It ?s pricey, at $30, but offers a fine look at how good New York state wines can be. One of the winemakers for the Tierce project is Peter Bell, who is the fellow on my left in the photo.

? Cheap wines to look for, besides the Five Rivers: Jekel Vineyards ? semi-dry riesling ($12), which won its class; Little Black Dress cabernet sauvignon, which won a double gold ($10); Edna Valley chardonnay ($12), also double gold; the legendary Bogle chardonnay ($10), a gold; and Meridian ?s pinot grigio ($10), a double gold.

The photo is by Jeffrey Richards of Elmira, N.Y., using a Creative Commons license.

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