Sunset Magazine's annual wine competition took place July 9 in Menlo Park. Among the hundreds of wines submitted, the judges chose the winners; the list (available online here) will be published in the Nov. issue of Sunset magazine.
Here are the organically or biodynamically grown winners among them. I've starred my faves.
Among the highlights:
Chardonnay: you can spend $80 for a Bergstrom Chardonnay or $14 for Bonterra's Chardonnay? I'm not sure the judges got this one right. Both got gold.
Bonterra's Chardonnay is good, esp. for the price, but hasn't ranked in the wine press like Bergstrom's, which won 94 points from Robert Parker. You might try your own taste comparison...or just stick with the Bonterra, knowing it's a budget-price Gold winner.
Italian Varietals: I am a huge fan of Chiarito (organic but not certified) so I am delighted to see this Mendocino traditional grower/winemaker getting two Golds for its Nero d'Avola and Negramoro, both traditional varietals grown in southern Italy and perfectly suited to our California interior climates (much more than the international varietals - Cab and Chard).
I personally buy these two wines by the case, (If you're a Chiarito wine club member, there's a 35% off sale going on now on both of these wines.)
Bonterra: Overall this widely available (in supermarkets, even) organic powerhouse swept the awards, winning 7 prizes, the most of any organically grown brand. That's not so surprising, given that it's the biggest brand in the organically grown space, but it's reaffirming to see that its quality survives despite its high volume production.
Albarino: I was dismayed to see Verdad get only a Bronze for its Albarino. The label has been a powerhouse for this varietal, so one wonders if the judges are really familiar with this Spanish grape. It was a pick of the week from the LATimes (a previous vintage but still), so the judging seems a bit off to me.
Brut Rose: I was happy to see Handley Cellars get a Silver for its fantastic Brut Rose, which also got a Gold medal in the SF Chronicle Wine Competition and a 91 point rating from Wine Spectator. It's a lovely wine and usually flies off the shelf. It's not made every year, so grab it while you can. It tied with longtime sparkling wine producer Schramsberg (not organically grown), just one more sign of its lovely qualities.
• Bordeaux Blend
Stone Edge, Surround ($30)
• Cabernet Sauvignon
Stone Edge Farm, 2008
• Italian Varietals
***Chiarito Vineyard, Nero d'Avola
***Chiarito Vineyard, Negramoro
Bonterra, 2009 Merlot ($18)
• Pinot Noir
Bonterra, 2010 Pinot Noir ($16)
Ceago Vinegarden, Syrah Rose ($16)
Bonterra, 2007 The Butler ($36)
Ceago, 2010 Syrah ($22)
***Verdad, 2010 Albarino
Bergstrom, 2010 Sigrid ($80)
Bonterra, 2010 Chardonnay ($14)
Handley, 2010 Chardonnay ($22)
Bonterra, 2010 Riesling ($14)
Pacific Rim, 2010 Riesling ($32)
• Sauvignon Blanc
Bonterra, 2010 ($14)
Bonterra, 2010 Viognier ($14)
***Handley, Brut Rose ($40)