Thursday, June 25, 2015

5 Wines to Order Now: California State Fair's Winners - Gold AND Organic

Hundreds of wineries across the state sent in thousands of wine bottles this year to compete in the annual California State Fair wine competition. Announced last week, some of the best organically grown wines took top prizes. Amazingly, most are affordable. And, on this list, even the splurge wines are worth the price.


2012 Bokisch Vineyards, Double Gold, Best of California, Best of Class ($20)

A Spanish wine grape that used to be used only for blending, Lodi-based Bokisch was the first winery in the United States to bottle this varietal on its own. As soon as I tasted it, I bought 6 bottles. If you haven't tried it, let this award be your excuse.

Markus Bokisch, half Spanish, runs a vineyard management company in Lodi, and with his wife Liz makes 3,000 cases of wine a year under the Bokisch Vineyards label. Check out their two Albarinos, too - and of course, don't miss their Garnacha.

Petite Sirah
2013 Green Truck, Double Gold ($15)

Wow - what a surprise. Some grower in Mendo must be pretty happy right now. Who had those great grapes? Who made this wine, really? We'd like to salute you.

It's nice to see that the people who didn't rip out their Petite Sirah vines to plant Cabernet still get some respect in the world, isn't it?

This is a supermarket wine so look for it there.

Pinot Noir
2012 Benziger Family Winery, Arbore Sacra ($75)

Benziger Family Winery's Sonoma Coast site in Freestone stands as a testament to their amazing Biodynamic farming. While other wineries say they must use pesticides and fungicides out there in the  coastal areas, Benziger alone persists in resisting that approach - and, look at this - makes great wine. This particular Pinot has racked up quite a lot of awards. And even at the California State Fair.


2013 Shooting Star ($13)

It doesn't say it on the bottle, but this wine is solely sourced from organic vines, the grower tells me.

NV, Galleano, Mary Margaret Cream Sherry ($40)

Sherry and sweet wines are what made California's wine industry for about a 100 years. The Mission grapes - yes, Mission Grapes - that go into this organically grown sherry are from 70 year old vines growing in Mira Loma and 95 year old vines. Galleano is the Sturbridge Village of wineries - only it's still a going concern, not a museum run by a nonprofit.

This sherry is made in the style of a Pedro Ximenez-Olorosa, from rare Golden Chasselas/Palomino and Mission varieties. Galleano is one of the very few vineyards that still grows them.

Galleano family receiving another award for their Mary
Margaret Cream Sherry 
This is a sherry master's very best sherry, a tribute to their "nona."

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