A few weeks ago, Pier 66 played host to one of the most comprehensive Domestic wine competitions around. The American Fine Wine Competition was held January 16th and 17th and featured over 600 wines from around our country. Eighteen judges, including Jenny Benzie, Advanced Sommelier and proprietor of Pour, Sip, Savor, Master Sommelier Virginia Philip of the Breakers Resort and Tim Eagan, sommelier-manager of Chops Lobster Bar, swam through two days of intense blindness…tasting that is.
As a “wine angel,” I had a unique perspective on the event as it unfolded. Shari Gherman, event creator and organizer, worked her tail off providing the proper environment to get the best read on the wines. For those of you out there in reader-land that have never seen a wine tasting like this, allow me to describe what goes on.
Close your eyes. yes, I will know if you are peeking. Closed then…ok, good. Now, picture a 10’x20′ room with 6′ folding tables along the perrimeter. There are more tables that create an island in the center of the room. On each side of the table, wines are lined up three deep, organized in “flight of 8” grouping. Each bottle is labled with a sticker that has it’s code number on it. When a team sets up a flight for a table of judges, they go to the group, label all of the glasses with the corresponding bottle number, pour the wine in the proper glass and CAREFULLY wheel the cart that all of the wine glasses are on out to the judges table. If you are lucky enough not to spill wine, let alone break a glass (I was there for 8 hours and did not hear 1 glass break!) the judges will then taste through the flight. First, they make their own observations, then they debate them. After the last comment is made, they make their recommendations on medals and awards. This goes on for hours…
Palate fatigue is fought off by a selection of cheese, breads and meats. An occasional Budweiser is used to totally clear the prior set of wines. Over a two day stretch, it takes professionalism and focus to make it through all of the wines offered.
In my next post, I will explain the scoring system of the blind tasting, and hopefully shed light on what the numbers really mean!
Wines to Watch For! These selections were entered into the American Fine Wine Competition, and can be found at Village Beach Market in Vero Beach. 772-231-2338.
1. Seven Hills “Ciel du Cheval” Red Mountain Blend, Washington
Casey McClellan has created a red blend from this vineyard source for years! This one is a monster, offering strong acidity and tannins. A rich cassis and berry midpallet finishes long and strong.
2. Gauthier Cellars “Rockin’ H Ranch” Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast
This pinot is created with three clones of burgundian grapes: two from Dijon, one from Pommard. This is the un-pinot, when compared to a light, fruity offering. It is bold, with smoke and mint. A delicious selection for fuller-flavored meats, and richer foods.