The annual East Meets West Wine Challenge competition isn’t just about reviewing wines from different U.S. regions, it’s also become a robust international contest. This February, the East category included wines from mid and eastern United States, Canada (except British Columbia), Europe, Central America, South America, Africa, Nova Scotia and Mexico (except Baja). In addition to the western United States and British Columbia, the West category included wines from Baja Mexico, China, India, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Tasmania and beyond. Thanks to Wine Competitions Management & Productions Founder Debra Del Fiorentino and her competent, energetic staff for running an efficient and effective competition.
The top two sparkling wines earned Gold and Double Gold (meaning unanimous gold from all judges on the panel), and both achieved Best of Class (BOC) awards.
From the East, Trump Winery 2009 Brut Reserve; Monticello, Va.: This demonstrative sparkling wine shows off citrus blossom aromas, followed by yeasty notes, crisp green apple, Bosc pear and a thread of minerality. Well-crafted and nicely balanced with a creamy mousse, it’s lively and refreshing from the first sip to the pleasing last one. GOLD/BOC
From the West, Gloria Ferrer Caves & Vineyards 2007 Late Disgorged Royal Cuvée Brut; Carneros, Calif.: This lively wine, which judges declared the Best sparkling of the show, dazzles with a tantalizing aroma, tiny bead, layers of brioche, Bing cherry, pear chutney, lemon zest and minerality. Precisely balanced, with a bright and persistent finish. DOUBLE GOLD/BOC
In the rosé category, Gold and BOC honors were awarded.
Stave & Stone Wine Estates Broken Boulder Vineyard “Dorothy” Estate Pinot Noir Rosé (Columbia Gorge, Wash.) was awarded Gold/BOC in the West category. Red fruit on the nose leads to fresh strawberries and raspberries, red licorice and hints of herbs cavorting on the palate, brightened by zesty acidity.
From the East, Wine Insiders Villa Ruby 2016 Caresse de Rosé (France), crafted by Bernard Magrez, also took home a Gold/BOC award. Expressive aromas lead you into the glass. Beautifully balanced and vibrant as peaches and cream, strawberries and a touch of cranberry and spice decorate the palate.
Among the Gold/Double Gold and BOC white wine winners from the East:
Simue 2016 Verdejo; Rueda, Spain: Wildly aromatic with citrus and tropical fruit rising from the glass. Elegant and sleek on the palate as the bright flavors of mango, peach, key lime and lemon verbena join lively acidity, electrifying the palate. GOLD/BOC
Laurentide Winery 2015 Estate Pinot Gris; Leelanau Peninsula, Mich.: Brimming with crisp apples as the wine greets the nose. Fresh nectarines, Honeycrisp apples, lemon lime and a touch of herbs captivate the palate. Oh so lively and refreshing. DOUBLE GOLD/BOC
Black Willow Winery 2015 Classic Diamond; N.Y.: A fine example of Diamond, showcasing its distinctive aroma. Floral notes meld with juicy nectarine, fresh pineapple, lemon and orange peel, creating a burst of flavor on the palate. GOLD/BOC
Lamoreaux Landing Wine Cellars 2015 Round Rock Vineyard Estate Dry Riesling; Finger Lakes, N.Y.: Expressive aroma of citrus blossom and tropical fruit. Juicy kiwi, pear, passion fruit and hints of crushed herbs delight the palate. DOUBLE GOLD/BOC
Among the Gold/Double Gold and BOC white wines from the West:
Oak Farm Vineyards 2016 Albarino; Lodi, Calif.: Stone fruit aromas greet the nose. Fresh white peaches, herb-dusted jicama strips, grapefruit
and tropical melon take the taste buds on a wild and tasty ride. Pure, vivacious and well balanced, with a solid stream of acidity complementing the juicy fruit. DOUBLE GOLD/BOC
Rodney Strong Estate Vineyards 2015 Chalk Hill Chardonnay; Sonoma County, Calif.: This elegant Chardonnay is chock full of baked apple, creamy pear, nutmeg, a splash of Meyer lemon and spicy oak nuances, with a racy level of acidity perfectly balancing the lush fruit. GOLD/BOC
Draxton Wines 2016 Nelson Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc; Dry Creek Valley, Calif.: A focused and energetic Sauv Blanc with fragrant citrusy notes at first whiff, mirrored on the palate with lemon drops, lemon-lime soda, hints of grapefruit and savory notes of white pepper and tarragon. DOUBLE GOLD/BOC
Andrew Peller Limited 2016 Raven Conspiracy Wicked White; Ontario, Can.: Tropical aromas will have you craving warm, sunny days. This sassy white blend awakens the palate with layers of kiwi, lychee, melon, crisp Granny Smith apples and fresh crushed herbs wrapped around a firm spine of acidity. DOUBLE GOLD/BOC
From the East, red wines achieving Gold/Double Gold and BOC awards included:
Pollak Vineyards 2014 Cab Franc Reserve Estate; Monticello, Va.: Dark fruit on the nose sets the stage for an intense, smoothly textured mouthful of earth-scented black cherries, olallieberries, oak nuances and savory spice. Full bodied, complex and well defined through the long-lasting finish. DOUBLE GOLD/BOC
Cooper’s Hawk NV Lux Pinot Noir; American: Alluring floral aromas lead to fresh raspberries, red and black cherries, hints of earth, anise and nicely integrated oak cascading onto the palate. Elegant, pure and well balanced, finishing with vibrancy. GOLD/BOC
The Winery at Versailles NV Rodeo Red; Ohio: This sweet red wine, a blend of Concord and Niagara, is wildly expressive. Think spiced plum chutney, sweet red grapes, fresh raspberries and an earthy, musky note. Well balanced with an outgoing personality. GOLD/BOC
Vicente Gandia 2013 Finca Del Mar Tempranillo; Utiel-Requena, Valencia, Spain: This elegant and pure Tempranillo is chock full of red raspberries, cherries, cacao nibs and vanilla bean from the engaging aroma to the vibrant palate and through the lifted finish. GOLD/BOC
From the West, red wine Gold/Double Gold and BOC recipients included:
Miro Cellars 2014 Reserve Coyote Ridge Vineyard Petite Sirah; Dry Creek Valley, Calif.: This muscular beauty screams classic Petite Sirah. Complex and deeply structured, with blackberry, loganberry and blueberry fruit, hints of multi-colored fresh ground peppercorns and warm, buttered cinnamon toast framed by a firm backbone of tannins. DOUBLE GOLD/BOC/Best Red Wine of the Show
Eberle Winery 2014 “Vineyard Selection” Cabernet Sauvignon; Paso Robles, Calif.: Aromas of dense, dark fruit fully engage the senses. Cassis, blackberry, and boysenberry entwine with savory spice and well managed oak. Brisk acidity balances the rich fruit, and the finish is divine. GOLD/BOC
Tsillan Cellars 2014 Estate Reserve Syrah; Lake Chelan, Wash.: Capturing a beautiful expression of Syrah, it’s powerful yet precise in balance, as layers of plum preserves, black cherry, roasted meat, tobacco and oak spice fill the mouth. Nice depth, and the finish is bright and lifted. DOUBLE GOLD/BOC
Westport Winery 2014 Mermaid Merlot; Yakima Valley, Wash.: This velvety smooth Merlot kicks off with a perfumed aroma. On the palate, delicious flavors of raspberries, loganberries and chocolate covered blueberries meld with a touch of earth and tinges of oak spice chime in on the finale. GOLD/BOC
In the Late Harvest/Dessert Wines category, two top winners were crowned, including Gold, Double Gold, BOC and Best of Show awards.
From the West (Sonoma County, Calif.), Carol Shelton Wines’ 2014 Black Magic Late Harvest Zinfandel paved its way into the hearts of the judges, earning Gold and BOC honors. Pure, creamy and rich, yet beautifully balanced, this gem broadcasts blackberry jam and dense plummy goodness at the core. Highlights of toffee, caramelized nuts and orange zest complete the magical package.
From the East (Finger Lakes, N.Y.), Hazlitt 1852 Vineyards’ 2014 Vidal Ice Wine captured Double Gold and BOC awards, then went on to capture Best of Show honors for the overall best wine of the competition. Displaying fresh honey and roasted nuts on the nose, this decadent elixir flows onto the palate with ease. Flavors of caramel drizzled mango, apricot, cotton candy, burnt sugar crème brûlée topping, and a dollop of citrus infused cream are offset by brilliant acidity. The texture is velvety, and the finish goes on forever.
Congrats to each winery and winemaker earning medals at this year’s East Meet West Wine Challenge. Visit www.winecompetitions.com to check out the full array of award winning wines. Your favorites may have scored well, and you’ll also have the chance to discover some new tasty gems that please your palate.