Smoke Gets In Your… Sinuses (San Francisco International Wine Competition 2018 Results)

Have lab coat, will judge (at the 2018 SFIWC)

Late last year, I had the pleasure (once again) of pretending to be an all-growed-up wine pro judging alongside some very notable palates at the 38th annual San Francisco International Wine Competition.

Judging the SFIWC almost always ends up being one of my favorite events of the entire year, and despite quite a bit of behind-the-scenes personnel changes, the competition didn’t skip a beat; I had a blast, with the only downer being the inundation of the city streets by the ominous smoke from the nearby Camp Fire (terribly, California’s deadliest and most destructive to date).

The results of the 2018 SFIWC have been announced, so I am officially allowed to share them with you. Here are some thoughts on the Best In Show winners, which are determined after going through 1) two days of normal judging panels, 2) “super tastings” of judges from multiple panels (meant to whittle down the field of wines deemed excellent enough to potentially vie for Best In Show ), and finally 3) a lively and spirited sweepstakes round in which the the most awarded wines are pitted against one another…

Smoke Gets In Your… Sinuses (San Francisco International Wine Competition 2018 Results)
Up the Irons! (Number of the) Beast Mode enabled walking the streets of San Fran in November, 2018.
  • Best in Show Red (and Best Syrah): 2015 V. Sattui Winery Syrah (Napa Valley, USA, $50) – This spicy, deep, and concentrated little number edged out a field of tough competitors that included some killer Pinots; that a Syrah took top honors is, I think, indicative of the scientifically proven fact [ editor’s note: this is not factual and has never been proven clinically ] that hating on Syrah makes you boring and stupid.
  • Best in Show White (and Best Riesling): 2018 Winemaking Tasmania Artisan Riesling (Tasmania, $NA) – Well… I didn’t even pretend not to be relieved that a more marketable grape took top White honors in 2018, after a run of a few, uhm, more obscure varieties garnering the top spot in the last couple of SFIWC results. Perky and focused, this one will be difficult to find but well worth seeking.
  • Best in Show Sparkling (and Best Blanc de Noir): NV Gloria Ferrer Caves & Vineyards Blanc de Noir (Carneros, USA $25) – Yes, they basically always win; Yes, they deserve it… and for 2019, maybe we can save time and just forward some medals to them now? Just a thought…
  • Best in Show Dessert (and Best Ice Wine): 2017 Inniskillin Niagara Estate Riesling Icewine (Niagara Peninsula, Canada $80, half bottle) – Holy f*ck, this is soooooo good. Look, Canadian Ice Wine is usually a safe bet for those who like their dessert wines to amp up the volume on sweetness, fruit purity, and natural acidity, but when Riesling gets the Great White North Ice Wine treatment, something magical happens… floral, candied, lip-smacking, succulent magic…
Smoke Gets In Your… Sinuses (San Francisco International Wine Competition 2018 Results)
Hard work during the 2018 SFIWC Sweepstakes round

Cheers!

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Copyright © 2016. Originally at Smoke Gets In Your… Sinuses (San Francisco International Wine Competition 2018 Results) from 1WineDude.com - for personal, non-commercial use only. Cheers!

37th Heaven (Highlights From The 2017 San Francisco International Wine Competition)

All smocked up and ready to go

By the time that you read these, the results of the 37th (!!) annual San Francisco International Wine Competition should be publicly available, so I thought that I would share some of the highlights among the event’s big winners.

The SFIWC is one of my favorite weekends of the year. Under the watchful eyes of Executive Director Anthony Dias Blue and Director of Judging Tim McDonald, SFIWC assembles a top-notch volunteer crew and some of the best and most experienced tasters in the U.S. wine biz (and yes, I’m still trying to figure out why they keep inviting me to judge).

That large, talented team happens to be chock full of some of the funniest, liveliest, and kindest people in wine, and so it’s a real pleasure to interact, work, and generally just break bread with all of those folks.

37th Heaven (Highlights From The 2017 San Francisco International Wine Competition)

Sweepstakes and super tasting require smocks, not capes…

We also happen to taste some killer juice over that weekend, all done blind within categories, in panels of 3-4 people,  with “super tastings” and an eventual sweepstakes round to help determine the best-of-the-best. It’s from that latter category – the wines fully deserving of having Tenacious D’s To Be The Best as their theme song – that I draw my personal competition highlights…

37th Heaven (Highlights From The 2017 San Francisco International Wine Competition)Best in Show Sparkling & Best Brut:
2008 Gloria Ferrer Royal Cuvee Brut Sparkling (Carneros, $37)

This is GF’s late-disgorged, first-pressed marvel of a bubbly, and in my experience one that out-performs some sparkling wines that run $15-$20 higher per bottle. All that aging means more yeasty, briche-toasty-goodness for you, but with ample apple and stone fruit action courtesy of the warm California sun.

37th Heaven (Highlights From The 2017 San Francisco International Wine Competition)

Best in Show White & Best Other White Varietal Wine:
2016 Pearmund Cellars Petit Manseng (Virginia, $25)

Some would (justifiably) balk a bit in skepticism over a Petit Manseng from Virginia taking a Best in Show trophy nod, but before you join their ranks (and believe me, I understand, because I briefly went there myself), please consider this: a) it’s possible, but not easy, to make excellent Petit Manseng, b) it’s possible, but not easy to make excellent wine in Virginia, and c) it’s very much not easy to make excellent Petit Manseng in VA. To achieve all three, delightfully, and with ample citrus and aromatic joie de vivre that can stand toe-to-toe with much pricier and more recognizable competition is quite an accomplishment, and one deserving of recognition.

37th Heaven (Highlights From The 2017 San Francisco International Wine Competition)

Another day at the office…

37th Heaven (Highlights From The 2017 San Francisco International Wine Competition)Best Furmint:
2015 Barta Oreg Kiraly Furmint (Tokaji, $39)

Included in this list only because it’s a sentimental favorite, and one that I am personally happy to see get serious props from the SFIWC judging squad. Long-time 1WD readers will recognize Barta from my Furmint USA promo days, and it’s good to see some prize-winning by these champions of dry Furmint, who are quite literally salvaging part of the grape variety’s history in Tokaj. As for the wine: think deep, focused, linear, mineral, and lovely.

 

37th Heaven (Highlights From The 2017 San Francisco International Wine Competition)37th Heaven (Highlights From The 2017 San Francisco International Wine Competition)Best in Show Red, Best Rhone Varietal Wine, & Best Mourvèdre
2015 Jeff Runquist Wines “R” Three Way Vineyard Mataró (Paso Robles, $32)

This one won’t be easy to find, but those who dig Mourvèdre will want to try anyway, because this red kicks a lot of wine booty and is well deserving of its triple SFIWC winnings. Equal parts dense, spicy, and lively, the dark berry fruit flavors here are buoyed by good acid structure and the kind of black pepper and floral notes over which Mataró lovers go all cuckoo-for-cocoa-puffs.

 

37th Heaven (Highlights From The 2017 San Francisco International Wine Competition)Best Late Harvest White:
2014 Szent Tamás ‘Mád’ Late Harvest (Tokaj-Hegyalja, $35)

Hungary strikes again, beeeeatches! A traditional blend of Furmint and Hárslevelű, my understanding is that this sipper is made in partnership with Szepsy Winery, meaning that it has some of the resources of one of the world’s truly great winemakers behind it. If anything, this honeyed, floral, spicy, grapey, and delicious nectar is accessible, but for all of its unctuousness it lacks neither complexity or vibrancy.

 

37th Heaven (Highlights From The 2017 San Francisco International Wine Competition)Best in Show Dessert Wine, Best Fortified Wine, & Best Port:
1967 Kopke Colheita Port (Portugal $225)

I believe the word we’re looking for here is “ringer.” Hazelnuts, toast, smoke, spice, dried fruits, caramel… this is intense, traditional, and Old School all the way. Monocle, cigar, well-weatherd leather chair, and dark, wood-appointed smoking room not included.

Cheers!

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Copyright © 2016. Originally at 37th Heaven (Highlights From The 2017 San Francisco International Wine Competition) from 1WineDude.com - for personal, non-commercial use only. Cheers!