The wine judging season keeps rolling along, so Saturday morning meant a trip to judge at the Amador County Fair commercial wine competition. This year's event featured 465 wines from the Sierra Foothills, and my three-person panel tasted about 60 of them. Nearly half of the wines on our panel were cabernet sauvignon, a varietal that tends to be overshadowed in gold country over zinfandel, Cal-Ital and Rhone varietals. We still awarded our only double-gold of the day to Young's Vineyard 2008 Shenandoah Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, with high marks for its fresh fruit flavors, balance and depth.
But when all the judging had finished, one wine rose to the top. Best of show honors went to Latcham Vineyards 2007 Fair Play Special Reserve Cabernet Franc, a wine that also won "best red" on Saturday. I didn't get to taste this wine, but fellow judge and former colleague Mike Dunne noted on his "Year in Wine" blog that it "(captured) the varietal's minty herbalness and plummy fruitiness, all framed handsomely with vanillin and chocolate overtones."
Sounds like a winner to us. And like cabernet sauvignon, it was interesting to see that cabernet franc triumphed in an area where Bordeaux varietals aren't usually considered the Sierra Foothills' strong suit.
Here's a list of more "best of show" winners. Look for a full awards tally coming soon ...
Best Amador Rhone
Cooper Vineyards 07 Estate Petit Sirah
Best Amador Red Zinfandel
Dillian Wines 08 Hang Tree Zinfandel
Best Amador Italian
Cooper Vineyards 09 Pinot Grigio
Best Sauvignon Blanc
Sierra Vista Winery 09 Sauvignon Blanc
Young's Vineyard 09 White Rhone Blend
Best Desert Wine
Renwood Winery 09 Orange Muscat
Hatcher Winery 09 Grenache Rose