While many of the top wines do not compete in the SF Chronicle's annual wine competition, it is one of the biggest events - and one of the biggest public tastings - in the country. It is the biggest event in the U.S. for U.S.-made wine. More than 4,000 wines from 1,500 wineries were entered. (For more, view the 2008 video below.)
Judging took place last month. The public tasting ($65/80) takes place this Saturday from 2-5 at Fort Mason in SF - it's not exactly an intimate gathering and it usually sells out so the crowd is at capacity.
Here's video snippet from last year's public tasting to give you an idea of what it's like:
If you attend, I suggest seeking out the following outstanding wines, given some of the highest award ratings by the judges, and all of which are organically grown - mostly in Mendocino, with a few from Napa, the Sonoma Coast and Dry Creek.
Here's the list of organic gold, double gold and best in class winners to try. Many of them are wineries I regularly follow on this blog, so it's a delight to see them succeed so well in this competition.
BEST OF CLASS
• Voss, 2010, $20
I first tasted this at the Family Winemakers of California event; it's in a class by itself - nice to see it get this recognition. It's grown in the heavy clay soils of Rutherford in a winery started by an Aussie who also makes wine in New Zealand (where they know their Sauvignon Blanc). Sauvignon Blanc is the only wine Voss makes. It's also nice to see Rutherfordians be organic...not very many are.
This wine is a standout.
• Yorkville Cellars, 2010, Semillon, $20
There aren't very many Bordeaux whites grown in California, so this is a very small category. Nonetheless, the judges don't have to award Best in Class.
Yorkville's owners lived in Bordeaux before establishing their winery in Mendocino County (it's on the road leading to Anderson Valley) and they've made it their life's work to grow all the noble grapes of Bordeaux - the only winery that does.
• Montemaggiore, 2008, Paulo's Vineyard, $38
This Dry Creek winery is a dream, boutique winery, raising grapes biodynamically, and making quite a name for itself with Syrah. (This year Montemaggiore also won a gold in the same price range - for its 2009 Montemaggiore Estate grown [not Paulo's Vineyard] Syrah.)
• Terra Savia, 2007 Blanc de Blanc, $22 (generally less; often available at Whole Foods)
One of my personal standbys and an OBG.
• Patianna, 2009, $16.99
Patty Fetzer's Chardonnay is homegrown and organic through and through. It's a beautifully cultivated vineyard, lovingly tended to by old hands who know what they are doing. And this is a wine with good distribution in general.
• Handley Cellars, 2006 Brut Rose, $40
Expensive, delicious. 91 pts, Wine Spectator. Often sells out early.
• Terra Savia, 2010, Brut Rouge, $22
The first rouge brut from Terra Savia - I am dying to try this. I have a soft spot for pink bubbles.
• Paul Dolan, 2010, $18
Another old hand in Mendocino, who knows what he is doing, is Paul Dolan. He used to run Fetzer, started the state's largest organic brand, Bonterra, and now does his own thing under his own name. A reliable producer.
Rhone Varietals (White)
• Montemaggiore, 2010 3Divas (Marsanne, Roussanne, Viognier blend), $25
This fastidious, boutique winery, known for its Syrah, is so beautifully cultivated (and completely organic/biodynamic). This is the second year Montemaggiore has released a white Rhone blend.
• Paul Dolan, 2010, $18
• Canihan Family Cellars, 2009, Sonoma Coast, $49.99
This wine isn't listed on their web site so I'd like to doublecheck that this new vineyard (coast) is certified organic. All of their regular estate wines are. Find out at the show and let me know. I'll also shoot them an email right now. This is a small family run outfit with a great track record of winemaking.
• Marimar, 2007, Cristina, $49.99 (Club only)
• Handley Cellars, 2009 RSM, $52
Pinot File: "First rate." Great pinots come from Anderson Valley, but Handley is the only winery there with organically certified estate vineyards. This vineyard is located on a steep hillside.
• Montemaggiore, 2009, $38
Biodynamic Montemaggiore also took a Best in Class in this price category.
• Frey 2010, $13.60 (generally available at Whole Foods)
• Paul Dolan, 2009, $25
SILVERS AND BRONZES
Others of the usual suspects from Mendocino - McFadden and Barra - also won medals in the silver and bronze categories.