Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Oh yeah, I have a blog... (and notes on the NextGen Wine Competition)

Wow, it has been quite a while since I've written a blog post! The few weeks have been busy, but mostly I've been lazy. I've got a lot to catch up on though! I was in California judging at a competition and made a few winery visits during my free time. I got back to Denver just in time for the Colorado Urban Winefest. And to top it off, I had a couple of great dinners with some impressive wines with friends and acquaintances the past few days.

I'll get to those stories in due time, but this post is about the NextGen Wine Competition. For the second year, I was invited by Vineyard and Winery Management (VWM) to judge at the NextGen Wine Competition. The competition was designed specifically with younger (and increasingly more important) wine consumers in mind, and was judged by qualified and knowledgeable wine industry millennials aged 21-35. Most of the judges were from California, but there were a handful from the likes of Colorado, Wisconsin and Illinois. One of the things that Rob Merletti, CEO/Publisher of VWM, mentioned in his speech at the judges' dinner was that he wanted to use the NextGen (and the other 5 competitions VWM owns) as a way to introduce the rest of the wine industry to the grapes and wines of the other 47 states not named California, Oregon and Washington. Being from the east coast, Rob explained that he was introduced to wine via the likes of Chambourcin, Norton and Baco Noir and he hopes that many of America's new wine consumers will discover wine via a similar path of non-traditional varieties from their local wine regions. I was pleasantly surprised that a few of the Cali judges knew what traminette was, but still too many were not aware of how brianna, muscadine and cayuga should be judged. Nevertheless, I applaud Rob and VWM for being so progressive with their vision of the future of the American wine industry. Oh, and vidal blanc made it to the sweepstakes tasting!

Judges with Maximilian Riedel and Rob Merletti toasting.
But back to the uniqueness and importance of competitions like this one. Bill Traverso, Director of Wine Competitions for Vineyard & Winery Management stated, "I would have to say that the results from our lineup of millennial judges mirror very closely what is trending in the marketplace today. That is why a competition with millennial judges helps wineries in making plans for which variety to plant and which type of wines to make for the next wave of wine consumers.” Despite what the likes of W. Blake Gray and Steve Heimoff think are (or not) trends in the wine industry, sweet wines are an important part of the wine industry. Hell, if the Wine Curmudgeon understands this, why can't Heimoff?

“I would have to say that the results from our lineup of millennial judges mirror very closely what is trending in the marketplace today,” said Traverso. “The 2012 NextGen Wine Competition was an incredible success,” declared Chief Judge Giovanni Balistreri. I must agree. The wines were much better this year and (for the most part) the judges were very knowledgeable and professional.

From a field of 750 entries, judges awarded a total of 17 Double Gold, 63 Gold, 253 Silver, and 249 Bronze medals. Of the 120 or so wines my table tasted, we awarded about 10 Gold medals and less than 5 no medals. The remainder were split between Silver and Bronze medals.

One thing that I did not know until just last week was that one Colorado wine was awarded a Best of Show - Rosé. Sadly, I must confess that I did not vote for it as overall Best of Show. Nevertheless, congrats to Anemoi, Canyon Wind Cellars and Garrett Estates for all showing very well!

Sweepstakes awards were bestowed as follows:

Best of Show
Lago di Merlo Vineyards and Winery
2009 Sangiovese, Lago di Merlo Vineyard
Dry Creek Valley, California

Best of Show Dessert/Late Harvest
Galer Estate Vineyard and Winery
2010 Vidal Blanc
Chester County, Pennsylvania

Best of Show Fruit
Apple Barn Winery
2011 Apple Cranberry

Best of Show Rosé
Canyon Wind Cellars
2011 47-Ten Rosé
Grand Valley, Colorado

Best of Show Sparkling
E & J Gallo Winery
Barefoot Bubbly, NV Moscato Spumante

Best of Show White
White Tie Wines
2011 Moscato

1 comment:

  1. Kyle,

    Very nice report. I grew up in the Midwest and the first wines that I tried and liked were made from hybrid or native grapes--Norton, Chambourcin, Traminette, Seyval Blanc, even Concord. I agree with you in that sweet wines do play an important part in the wine industry. Many beginning wine drinkers are turned off by dry and tannic wines but love the easily approachable sweet wines. Over time, their tastes often (though not always)
    change/progress to the point that they prefer dry over sweet. I started off drinking sweet wines--although I rarely drink them now, they were "gateway wines" that started me off on my wine drinking path.