2,650 – Number of miles I drove to attend the competitions (I could have driven to my father-in-laws house in Pittsburgh instead…or not).
Run by veteran wine writer Robert Whitley this is one classy event.
70 – Number of volunteers who made this a seamless competition
150 – Number of wines I tasted in two days
32 – Number of years the event and its sister Wine & Roses Grand Tasting have raised boatloads of money for local charities
80 – Cost of the Best of Show Red: Benzinger 2012 Tribute
35 – Cost of the Best of Show White: Sonoma Cutrer Chardonnay
Run by Andy Blue and Tim McDonald, this is one of the largest wine competitions on Planet Earth.
301 – Number of wines I tasted over two days
91 - Wines tasted during the Sunday morning Sweepstakes round
4,902 – Number of wines entered into the competition
254 – Number of Double Gold Medals (a distinction given when a wine unanimously wins a gold medal by all the judges evaluating it)
-Best in Show Champagne: Collet 2004 Brut Millésime ($75)
-Best in Show Red: Jeff Rehnquist 2013 Paso Robles Syrah ($25)
Run by Robert Whitley (who runs the San Diego Competition), the cool thing about this smaller competition is that it is comprised only of wine writers and each time we award a medal we are required to write something about the wine and affix our name to it. I like this idea because there is no anonymity. You like a wine, you say exactly why. There is no “best of” as we individually award Platinum, Gold or Silver medals.
173 – Number of wines I tasted over a day and half
18 - Dollars to be exact, the cost of a Platinum Award I gave to Balletto Rose of Pinot Noir from Russian River Valley – incredible value!
18-Number of judges
|Jonathan Mitchell of Ocean Prime in Beverly Hills and I hide from our scores.|
My backyard on the California Central Coast, this is a terrific intimate competition held as part of the California Mid State Fair. Best of Show wine was the Eberle Winery 2012 Barbera ($20)
1946 – The year the Fair first started
95 – Number of wines tasted in one day
9 – Time in the morning when I had to judge Zinfandel
666 – a numbered glass in my flight I called “Satan’s wine”
3,400 – Number of glasses of wine poured during the competition
1- Number of glasses that broke
|At this competition the volunteers give out their own award!|
I absolutely adore the Sierra Foothills (the region is in several of my travel books) and what’s not to love about where gold was discovered!
62 – The number of wines I tasted and spit (sadly) from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
7 – Hours it took me to drive to the competition
6.99 – Least expensive wine to win a Double Gold Award
75 – Most expensive wine to win a Double Gold Award
18 – Cost of the Best White: Oak Farm Vineyard 2014 Sauvignon Blanc Mohr-Fry Ranches
18 – Also the cost of the Best Red: Terra d’ Oro Winery 2013 Petite Sirah
Many wines were exceptional (see the scores of these competition wines and seek them out), many were average and some were kinda awful. As always, I assembled a series of quotes from fellow judges (winemakers, sommeliers, wine writers, retailers, etc.) throughout the competitions about the worst of the worst…cause it’s fun.
“It’s like bottled Pierces disease.”
“It smells like a gerbil cage.”
“It’s like a punch in the face, then a punch in the stomach”
“This rose tastes like cherry Windex.”
A Pinot Noir flight of 12 wines was such a disappointment a wine writer said, “I’ve had better flights of fancy.”
One winemaker hated a wine so much he told me: “It’s a cross between Satan and apathy.”