Monday, August 8, 2011

Mendocino Wine Competition - Organic Winners! (Gold and Double Gold)

Mendocino's annual wine competition was held last week with a distinguished panel of judges including: Linda Murphy, wine editor for the SF Chronicle, Virginie Boone, Dan Berger, Peggie Christiansen, wine buyer for Whole Foods, and many others.

The organically grown contenders made a very strong showing in the pack of all the wines, winning a number of double golds and golds in addition to the silver and bronze categories.

Here's a list of all the winners on the competition web site. My own list of the organic-only double gold and gold winners is below.


Cabernet Sauvignon
Paul Dolan, $25

Where else can you find a double gold Cab for $25? Only in Mendocino. Paul Dolan is such an industry veteran. It's nice to find quality and value together in the same bottle - and at this price. One more reason to pay a lot of attention to Mendocino's wines.



[TIED with French powerhouse Roederer Estate]

This is nothing short of astonishing.

Last year, another "local yokel" (I exaggerate), McFadden Vineyard (a 3,000-case winery) TIED the multimillion-dollar, French-owned Roederer Estate (100,000 cases a year) in the  sparkling wine category. This year humble McFadden scored a silver (more on that in a later post).

I have thought for awhile that Terra Savia's sparkler was hot (in previous posts) but this confirms it. Being tied with French giant Roederer must really be something for Terra Savia's Jim Milone to celebrate.


• Blended White
Atrea The Choir, $20

This wine, on a number of top tier restaurant wine lists, keeps proving itself over and over to be a great bargain. It's a white Rhone blend. And affordable!
• Sauvignon Blanc
Patianna, $15.99

Year after year, Patianna keeps getting critical acclaim for their SB. This year is no exception. Hmmm...wonder what they are doing right over there? Is it the vineyard? The winemaking? Or both? Also, nice to see another affordable wine top the list.


• Blended Red

The Testa win here is a surprising and exciting story. This little newcomer, ranking right up there with the likes of veterans Paul Dolan and John Fetzer (Atrea)? A real human interest story there. (You've heard about Testa's story in previous posts here...)

• Cabernet Sauvignon
Barra of Mendocino (2004), $42

Barra put its best foot forward and got the recognition it deserves. This was Charlie Barra's 59th Harvest wine.

• Petite Syrah
Frey Wines, $14 (Sulfite free)

Frey took the gold last year in this category, so they must be doing something right, too, to win gold year over year on this wine.

• Pinot Noir
Masut, $40

Already a heavyweight winner in several other competitions, it's nice to see this wine getting local recognition in a region where there are more than a few powerhouses in Pinot. There were nine Pinot Noir golds this year. Masut was the only organic one. In fact, this is not only organic, but also biodynamic.

• Italian Reds
Chiarito Nero d'Avola, $32 (not CCOF but practicing organic)

I have to say this is one of my personal favorite wines. Join the wine club and get it for $25 a bottle! It's also on some prestigious restaurants' wine lists.


Yorkville Cellars won a number of silvers and bronzes - but this one took the gold. It was a one-off experiment of a wine, since this is a pretty unusual sweet wine to make. See more about it in this video.

I will post the silver and bronze winners in a separate post.

I just, for reference, checked the Sonoma Wine Competition winners from 2010 to get a feeling for how many organically grown wines were entered and won. One gets the feeling in reviewing the lists of winners in Sonoma that many of the best wineries do not participate in the county competition and are not represented. Only about 1-2 percent of the winners are from organic wineries, mostly Imagery with the occasional wine from Hawley or Michel-Schlumberger.

As for Napa, I searched online for a Napa wine competition, but didn't find one. Does one exist? If you know, let me know.

The Mendocino County Competition appears to have broader participation among the region's wineries, which makes these winners all the more outstanding in their field.

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