Sunday, May 20, 2007

Golden Nose Summary

- I just got back from my weekend at the Seneca Lake Wine Trail's Golden Nose Wine Judging Event, where they actually let us amateurs judge wine, and like last years event, it was a blast! First, I have to say once again, that Finger Lakes wine people are the nicest people you could ever spend time with. I've learned more about wine in the 2 weekends I have spent at the Golden Nose than in any other time.

The weekend began with a reception at the amazing Rockwell Museum of Western Art on Friday night where we were treated to Finger Lakes wine (of course) and some delightful culinary treats. Saturday morning at The Corning Museum of Glass Auditorium, the training sessions were given: The super-knowledgable Lorraine Hems gave us her tips for succesful wine tasting, Chris Stamp, winemaker at Lakewood Vineyards presented 'The Components of Wine", Steve DiFrancesco, the winemaker at Glenora Wine Cellars, spoke on The History of Grape growing and Grape types, & David Whiting, winemaker at Red Newt Cellars, gave his popular presentation of unpopular smells and flaws in wine (I learned from last year not to breathe in Dave's concoctions too deeply). Then Lorraine, Chris & Dave did a sample judging to show how a "real" wine judge would evaluate wine.

Then our groups, led by a wine professional, got to the job of evaluating Finger Lakes wine to see which ones would be deemed worthy of a Golden Nose award. Me and my fellow wine judges Bernie and Maria were led by Joe Pierce, wine expert and owner of Pierces Restaurant in Elmira. We evaluated 5 flights encompassing Chardonnay, Riesling, Pinot Noir, Red Viniferas, & Mead and a final Best of Class flight of Cabernet Franc. We'd each evaluate the wines on our own and then we'd discuss the wine and make a decision on whether to award a medal or not. The most enjoyable part of the event for me is discussing each wine with other people who are just as passionate about wine. Sometimes our ratings were very different, but it was always interesting to share our evaluations and that is where a lot of the learning happens.

Then on Saturday night, the awards dinner was held at The Corning Museum of Glass, where we were treated to excellent food and the Finger Lakes wines that we had judged to be the best, and I even got to perform a couple songs from my new CD. For me, this event is like being in Finger Lakes Wine Heaven. I get to taste and discuss Finger Lakes wine with the actual people who make it and are experts, then I get to drink the best of The Finger Lakes and mingle with some of the nicest wine people. There are no snooty wine attitudes here. Everybody comes to have fun, learn about wine, and make new friends. Any of you who are passionate about wine and especially about Finger Lakes wine must put this event on your calendar for next year. I must put out a huge Thank You to Paul & Glenda at The Seneca Lake Wine Trail for organizing a great event and to all the people who contributed to make it a wonderful weekend!!!

Surprisingly, when I compared us amateurs with recent wine competitions judged by professional competitions, I see some of the same wines being judged highly. And to dispel the myth that every wine got an award, I can only speak for my group, but we judged very critically and there were many No Awards. Here is the Awards list for Best of, Double Gold, & Gold (and my tasting notes on the ones that I judged or tasted):

Best of Class:
Best Riesling- Lakewood 2006 Riesling (Semi-dry, bright and fresh, bold citrus with light peach and a hint of mineral)
Best Hybrid Grape- Fulkerson 2006 Traminette (Very floral aroma and just a beautiful vintage of this grape with notes of citrus and complex spice)
Best Native Grape- Torrey Ridge Diamond ( sweet but not overly sweet, with layers of grape, grapefruit, pineapple, and mango.)
Best Other Vinifera Red- Ventosa Pinot Noir (NV)
Best Cabernet Franc- 2005 Prejean Cabernet Franc (A mouthful of cherries and a long finish. My group judged this Best Of flight and this is a great Cab Franc. But I must also mention the Cab Franc that came in an extremely close second and was also wonderful- Sheldrake Point 2005 Cabernet Franc. As I have stated in past posts, the Finger Lakes 2005 Cab Franc's (and also other reds) that I have tasted so far are exceptional.)
Best Dessert Wine- Wagner 2006 Riesling Ice Wine

Double Gold
-Hazlitt 2006 Riesling
-Leidenfrost 2006 Riesling
-Torrey Ridge Niagara
-Torrey Ridge Diamond (As I stated in my Best of 2006 posts at the end of last year, Torrey Ridge was my Most Improved and Best Up and Coming Winery selection. I hear some people pan Torrey Ridge as a "sweet wine winery", but I find excellent balance and complexity with layers of flavor in a wide range of their wines.)
-Ventosa Pinot Noir (I'll be visiting Ventosa shortly and will post a report soon)
-Prejean 2005 Cabernet Franc
-Fox Run 2005 Lemberger (firm medium tannins with lots of berry fruit and just the perfect hint of pepper)
-Wagner 2005 Vidal Blanc Ice Wine (balanced sugars dancing on layers of lemon, honey, & pineapple within the firm acidity structure of Vidal)
-Wagner Vineyards 2006 Riesling Ice (It was all gone by the time I got to the tasting bar, so I guess that says it all)
-Hazlitt Port (NV) (It was late by the time I got to taste this at the awards dinner, but I do remember it made me feel warm and fuzzy, just like a good port should)

-Prejean 2005 Dry Riesling
-Chateau Lafayette Reneau 2006 Dry Riesling (I don't think CLR can make anything but an excellent Riesling. This one is classic CLR Riesling, dry but full, firm, bright & crisp)
-Bloomer Creek 2006 Riesling
-Lakewood 2006 Riesling
-Glenora 2006 Riesling
-Americana 2006 Cayuga White
-Fulkerson 2006 Traminette
-Miles Wisteria
-Cascata 2005 Odds & Ends
-Sheldrake Point 2005 Cabernet Franc
-Earle Estates Peach Perfection

The Complete awards list will be posted at

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