2016 International Women’s Wine Competition
The 2016 International Women’s Wine Competition got off to a fine start. Elegant tables adorned with fresh multi-hued pink and violet orchids, lavender spit cups and matching lavender napkins greeted the judges. A room full of women wine professionals, including winemakers, sommeliers, grape growers, vintners and wine writers were chosen purposefully (studies have shown that a greater majority of wines sold in the USA are purchased by women). The competition continued as smooth as it gets with Debra Del Fiorentino at the helm, assisted by her experienced and well versed crew; they never missed a beat.
The entries from around the world impressed the judges from the get go. To our delight, my panel began with sparkling wines (which I oft have the pleasure of judging at competitions). Needless to say, our morning started off in a most enjoyable way! Sauvignon Blanc and other white varieties came next to kick off our still wine categories, followed by Pinot Noir and Malbec, and our day ended evaluating Sherry and Sake. Not a bad day’s work.
Noteworthy wines securing Gold Medal (or higher) awards from our illustrious panel included:
Gloria Ferrer Caves & Vineyards 2012 Late Disgorged Brut Rosé; Carneros, California: Composed of 90% Pinot Noir and 10% Chardonnay, this delightfully dry sparkling wine shows off an eye catching mousse and pinkish salmon hue, citrus blossom aromas and an energetic tiny bead. Baked pie crust, strawberries and creamy lemon custard interlace on the palate, carried by lively acidity. A touch of spice brings the wine to a memorable finish. SRP: $50 www.gloriaferrer.com
Gloria Ferrer Caves & Vineyards 2007 Late Disgorged Royal Cuvée; Carneros, California: Biscuity aromas fill the senses with this blend of 67% Pinot Noir and 33% Chardonnay, and royal it is. Intensely flavorful, with Granny Smith apples, quince paste, creamy pears, fresh baked bread and minerally notes flowing seamlessly onto the palate. The tiny, endless stream of bubbles will send you into a dreamy state of mind. SRP: $37 www.gloriaferrer.com
Gloria Ferrer Caves & Vineyards took home Best of Show Sparkling honors for their 2004 Late Disgorged Carneros Cuvée. Wow, a blend of 53% Pinot Noir, 47% Chardonnay, this complex bubbly is exquisite. The brilliant hue and pinpoint bubbles are mesmerizing, and the yeasty aroma knocks your socks off. Bright layers of raspberries, fresh green apples, spiced pear chutney, flaky croissants and citrus accents unfold with remarkable vibrancy, and the lingering finish is simply divine. SRP: $75 www.gloriaferrer.com
Hagafen Cellars 2012 Late Disgorged Brut Cuvée; Napa Valley, California: This engaging wine reeled us in with its heady aromas of sugar cookie dough, and a dazzling display of tiny bubbles delighted the eyes. Luscious and vivid in the mouth with Golden Delicious apples, juicy Rainer cherries, a touch of orange zest and attractive leesy notes framed by spirited acidity. Bright and invigorating through the lovely aftertaste. SRP: $48 www.hagafen.com
Villa Maria 2015 Bubbly Sauvignon Blanc; Marlborough, New Zealand: We all easily identified New Zealand style Sauv Blanc characteristics on the nose. That profile remained consistent on the palate, with juicy melon, gooseberry, hints of herbs and fresh squeezed lime tingling the taste buds. Classic varietal expression of NZ Sauvignon Blanc in a sparkling wine style, with nice acidity holding firm throughout. SRP: ~$16 www.villamariawine.com
Andis Wines 2015 Sauvignon Blanc; Shenandoah Valley, Amador County, California: Floral aromas waft from the glass with this striking Sauvignon Blanc, which garnered the Best of Show White Wine award. Bursting at the seams with sweet Meyer lemon, Granny Smith apples, perfectly ripened nectarines and fresh cut herbs, this precisely balanced, energetic wine electrifies the palate and lingers with brightness and persistence. SRP: $19.99 www.andiswines.com
Charles Krug Winery 2015 Sauvignon Blanc; St Helena, Napa Valley, California: Here is a highly aromatic, mineral driven Sauvignon Blanc that wows from first sip. Well balanced with brisk acidity, it is vibrant and compelling as notes of lime zest, grapefruit and lemon verbena interlace with the lovely thread of minerality on the palate; brilliant. SRP: $18 www.charleskrug.com
Cupcake Vineyards 2015 Sauvignon Blanc; Marlborough, New Zealand: The unmistakable profile screams Marlborough as the aromas lift from the glass. Fresh mowed grass, gooseberries, grapefruit and lime sorbet fill the senses, and juicy fruit is complemented on the palate with crushed herb accents. Bracing acidity carries through the zesty finish. SRP: ~$11 www.cupcakevineyards.ccom
Berryessa Gap Vineyards 2015 Estate Sauvignon Blanc; Yolo County, California: Pale straw in color, this invigorating Sauvignon Blanc is clean, bright and fresh. Star fruit, kiwi and fresh peach flavors highlighted by a generous splash of lemon and orange citrus fruit stream radiantly onto the palate. Bracing acidity keeps it lifted through the long-lasting finish. SRP: $23 www.berryessagap.com
Pico 2015 Malbec; Mendoza, Argentina: A bit shy on the nose up front, this richly fruited Malbec opens more fully with aeration. Dense dark berries and ripe black plums converge at the core. This lush Malbec broadens in the mouth, with earthy elements and plenty of spice joining the sweet, jammy fruit. Well balanced and easy to quaff with a fresh, clean finish. SRP: ~$18
Grizzly Peak Winery 2013 Estate Malbec; Rogue Valley, Oregon: Expressive aromas of dark berries and spice draw you into the glass. Delectable blackberry, black cherry and spiced berry compote flavors entwine with bittersweet chocolate and fresh ground pepper as it flows onto the palate. Nicely textured and balanced, finishing with a subtle hint of chocolate covered coconut. SRP: $35 www.grizzlypeakwinery.com
Lautenbach’s Orchard Country Winery NV Lauren Elizabeth; Door County, Wisconsin: This tasty fruit driven white wine, crafted of La Crescent (a cold hardy hybrid grape) and Honeycrisp apples, is gentle yet lively on the palate. Flavors of Honeycrisp apples, freestone peaches and apricots swirl in the mouth with a dash of lemon lime juice; easy to quaff. SRP: $14.95 www.orchardcountry.com
Reverend Nat’s Hard Cider Winter Appey Spice Hard Cider; Portland, Oregon: This full bodied hard cider capturing Best of Show Cider honors, is reminiscent of Grandma’s apple pie and warms you right up! Fresh apple pie, cinnamon and nutmeg and raisin tart flavors take center stage, with roasted nuts and caramel adding complexity. Perfect for a winter holiday feast. SRP: ~$13 www.reverendnatshardcider.com
Bold Rock Hard Cider Crimson Ridge Vat #1 Chiles Orchard Hard Cider; Monticello, Virginia: Inviting aromas of spiced applesauce greet the nose with this rich and smooth hard cider. Tasty layers of apples sautéed in butter and brown sugar, allspice, and citrusy notes coat the palate. Round with no hard edges yet bright and energizing, it is remarkably balanced. SRP: ~$12 www.boldrock.com
Kooksoondang 2012 Rice Makgeolli – Peach; South Korea: A beautifully fragranced aroma lifts from the glass with this generously fruited frizzante style brew. Silky smooth and elegant, this peachy elixir gently spills onto the palate with yummy flavors and mild to moderate acidity, and the spritzy element keeps it dancing on the palate. Drink while it is young and fresh, and serve chilled. SRP: ~$10
Additional top awards equally worthy of seeking out included: Best of Show Red Wine and BEST OF SHOW Wine to Oak Farms Vineyards for their 2014 Barbera from Lodi, California ($25); Best of Show Rosé Wine to Holman Ranch Vineyards & Winery for their 2015 Rosé of Pinot Noir from Carmel Valley, California ($22); and Best of Show Dessert/Late Harvest to Cupcake Vineyards for their 2015 Moscato D’Asti Italy ($14.99).
Visit www.winecompetitions.com to review all the awards for this year’s competition, and CONGRATS to each and every award winner!