Paiche Restaurant. The tables were set to take tasters from the lighter wines through to the big, heavy hitters, and I will list them that way here. Look for my favorites from each section in bold type.
If you have ever perused a list of award winners from this major wine competition, you may have thought you were looking at the complete inventory for a wine store - a large wine store. Hundreds of wineries walk away from San Francisco clutching medals in their grape-stained fingers. It is interesting, however, to get a look at some of the wines that scored the double gold.
This group of judges must have really liked a smoky edge to their Chardonnay, because all four shown here exhibited that sensation to some degree. They seem to have had something against a Riesling with great acidity and fully fruit-forward reds seem to be their thing. Take a look at the 2013 Double Gold Winners from San Francisco.
Zonin Prosecco, Veneto, Italy $15 - This Best Prosecco winner is mineral-driven and fresh, but somewhat overshadowed by three Champagnes that followed.
Collet NV Extra Brut, Champagne, France $55 - Bread on the nose and earthy apples on the palate.
Piper Heidsieck NV Brut, Champagne, France $50 - A funky nose and toasty palate made this one the best of the bunch.
Collet NV Rosé, Champagne, France $60 - Toast and herbal aromas, earth and apple flavors. A close second.
Castra Rubra Winery 2012 Organic White Blend, Dominant White, Bulgaria $14 - Winner of the Best White Blend award, this Eastern European entry smells of flowers and peaches with mineral-laden apples on the palate. Very nice, in what turned out to be a weak category. At the price, unbeatable.
Handley Cellars 2012 Riesling, Anderson Valley $22 - Aromas of rich, full fruit unfortunately lead to a flabby mouthfeel.
Kono 2012 Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough, New Zealand $11 - Pungent grassiness on the nose and a lime streak a mile wide.
Matua 2012 Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough, New Zealand $14 - This one took the Best Sauvignon Blanc award with a grassy nose and mineral-draped citrus flavors.
Archangel 2011 Riesling, Central Otego, New Zealand $22 - Lots of petrol and great acidity. The best of this bunch.
Turning Leaf NV Riesling, California $8 - Big, sweet pears and peaches, but no acidity to back it up.
Santa Carolina 2010 Chardonnay, Reserva de Familia, Casablanca Valley, Chile $20 - This standout smells like a campfire and tastes like butter and cream. Very nice acidity. The best of the four Chardonnays on the table.
Puma Road 2011 Chardonnay, Pedregal Vineyard, Paicines, San Benito County, California $20 - Another wonderfully smoky nose with nice acidity and minerals.
Three Coins 2011 Chardonnay, Knight's Valley, California $26 - Smoky fruit bouquet, but disappointed by a listless palate. Nice show of minerals, though.
D & L Carinalli Vineyards 2011 Estate Chardonnay, Russian River Valley, California $20 - Named the Best Chardonnay, this one shows less smoke with nice acidity and slightly buttery fruit.
Assorted Red Wines
Hyde Vineyard 2010 Pinot Noir, Napa Valley $32 - A whiff of roses and raspberries leads to a pleasant, fruity palate and nice acidity in this Carneros product.
Thirty- Seven 2010 Malbec, Sonoma Coast $46 - This very dark wine smells of pepper on black cherries and plums. The palate is plummy, jammy and spicy. I love this one.
Villa Yambol 2011 Merlot, Thracian Valley, Bulgaria $8 - Dark with loads of smoky minerals, it deservedly won the Best Merlot award. Eight bucks! This one and the earlier white blend have me thinking of Bulgaria as wine country.
Domaine Peshtera 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon, Thracian Valley, Bulgaria $8 - A nose of rich, jammy blackberry, a palate of huge blackberry and plum, great acidity - Why wasn't I more impressed with it? It lacks complexity, but at the price, it's a decent buy.
Don & Sons B-Side 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley $25 - Fruit-forward black cherry and blackberry, but again, less complex than I would like.
Hess 2010 Allomi Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley $30 - Smoke runs through the blackberry and raspberry flavors, with nice tannins and acidity. Best of the Cabs showed here.
J Lohr Vineyards 2010 Hilltop Cabernet Sauvignon, Paso Robles $35 - Ripe cherry, great acidity and structure. A very close second.
Robert John Vineyards 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley $75 - Intriguing mint and herbs on the nose, the fruit is dark and the acidity is vibrant.
Rocca Family Vineyards 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon, Grigsby Vineyard, Yountville, Napa Valley $80 - Fruity with good tannic structure and nice acidity. It won the prize for Best Cabernet Sauvignon.
More Assorted Red Wines
Antucura 2008 Calcura Red Bordeaux Blend, Uco Valley, Mendoza, Argentina $20 - This wine won for Best Bordeaux Blend Under $25. That's not faint praise, either, as it shows a great tart edge and acidity. Think of Uco Valley as Medoza's Sonoma Coast.
J Lohr Vineyards 2009 Premium Bordeaux Blend, Cuvée POM, Paso Robles $50 - This mineral-drenched wine took the award for Best Red In Show. Great choice.
Stone Dwellers 2009 Shiraz, Strathbogie Ranges, Australia $20 - Minerals all over, this Shiraz has a smoky, chalky sense on the palate. A fave.
Anaba 2010 Red Rhône Blend, Turbine Red, Sonoma County $24 - Extremely smooth, but a little dull.
Brazin 2010 Old Vine Zinfandel, Lodi, California $17 - Beautiful cherry fruit and great tannins.
McManis Family Vineyards 2011 Petite Sirah, California $11 - An unfortunately medicinal alcohol whiff, even after it had been open for hours. Spicy, dark fruit flavors help it along.
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