Toast of Taos and Southwestern Wine Competition

This isn ?t the biggest competition that the Wine Curmudgeon judges, but it is one of the most interesting. Only wines from the Southwest are eligible, and this year that meant entries from Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado and Oklahoma. No Texas, unfortunately.

The other five judges and I were impressed with the quality of the wine, which can be problematic in a competition like this. The cabernet francs from Colorado were nice, as were many of the rieslings from several states. After all, we ?re not judging California and France. But the wines were mostly professionally made and showed just how far regional wine has come in the U.S. More, after the jump:

Some of the best wines, not surprisingly, came from Gruet, the sparkling wine house based in New Mexico. It won a gold and silver for two of its bubblies and the gold demi-sec was the best of show sparkling. Another New Mexico winery, Southwest Wines, won best of show for its Blue Teal muscat canelli dessert wine, best of show wine for its D.H. Lescombes pinot grigio and best of show red for its Lescombes cabernet sauvignon. The Lescombes wines, in fact, were quite interesting ?- fruity and well made, and much more advanced in style than I expected.

My favorite wine was a hybrid from New Mexico ?s Ponderosa Valley, a red blend called Jemez. It was light, polished and very drinkable ? perfect for summer barbecue. Another favorite was a rose from Colorado ?s Snowy Peaks. I ?ll link to the complete results when they ?re available.

Finally, my thanks to Jay Bileti, who ran the competition; the inestimable Shirley Nelson, its founder; and my follow judges (Harold Baer, Dick Marsten, Donna Prescott, Renie Steves and the legendary Diane Teitelbaum). I not always learn a lot when I do something like this, but I am reminded of how much I still need to learn.

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