This month I judged two very different, yet very well executed wine competitions: National Women's and San Diego International.
I truly enjoy the experience of judging as it provides great opportunities to exercise the palate, learn about new wines, network, and remove myself from the glare of my computer. Judging always reminds me of the power of blind tasting: when labels, brand perceptions, and prices aren't revealed, the quality of the wine is the only factor.
I'm planning to write up my favorites from a wider range of regions in the April Strategic Guidance from the Ground Up e-newsletter, but for now, I'm promoting my home turf. Below is a list of wines from the Pacific Northwest that were particularly impressive -- the tasting notes are rather short as the object is not to write a review but judge quality:
Pacific Rim Riesling - Columbia Valley, WA
* lovely red and green apple with some floral notes and a cool lime zing
Stone Wolfe Vineyards Pinot Gris - Oregon
* nice blend of pretty floral, lavender and herbal flavors
Agate Ridge Viognier - Rogue Valley, OR
* beautiful mix of orange peel, white flowers, orange blossom honey and white pepper
Chateau Ste. Michelle Merlot - Horse Heaven Hills, WA
* plum, chocolate covered cherries; very juicy mouth-feel with balance, structure; great finish
Roza Ridge Merlot - Rattlesnake Hills, WA
*cinnamon, blackberry, sweet plums; pretty mouth-feel and a nice, lengthy finish
Maryhill Syrah - Columbia Valley, WA
*fantastic combo of dark cacao, moss, earth, black fruit and a little pepper; long finish
Reustle Prayer Rock Vineyards Syrah - Umpqua, OR
* quite different from the Maryhill with smoke, bacon (yes!), black fruit and some white pepper
Tagaris Winery Rhone blend - Wahluke Slope, WA
* earth, red fruit, and a bright pepper note make it sing
Dumas Station Cabernet Sauvignon - Walla Walla, WA
* bright black fruit with nutmeg, cherry; great structure and finish
Hogue Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon - Columbia Valley, WA
* pencil shavings, black fruit, cherry and espresso -- nice combo!