The Results of the 7th Annual American Fine Wine Competition!

It is with great pleasure that I reveal to you the results of the 2014 American Fine Wine Competition! As many of you know, the judging process took place last month at Florida International University’s Chaplin School of Hospitality and after two solid days of sipping, swishing and spitting we selected what we thought were the best of what America has to offer. While St. Supéry’s Dollarhide Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon winning Best of Show Red Wine might not come as much of a surprise, how about the wine that took Best of Class Bordeaux Blend? Namely the 2010 Delaplane Williams Gap Blend from…Virginia. Yes, you heard me, Virginia!

Once again it was fun discovering new wines from around the country, getting to spend time with my fellow judges and making new friends including Alan Kalter of the Late Show with David Letterman who will be the Emcee and Auctioneer at the AFWC Gala on April 4th. So without further ado, here are the results of the Best of Show and Best of Class categories for the 7th Annual American Fine Wine Competition. Please click on the link following the list to see the complete results:

Best of Show Red Wine
2010 St. Supéry Dollarhide Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon (retail price $100)

Best of Show White Wine
2011 Maldonado Chardonnay Los Olivos Vineyard, Napa Valley, California ($42)

Best of Show Sparkling
NV Mumm Napa Santana, Napa Valley, California ($50)

Best of Show Late Harvest
2009 Ceja Dulce Beso, Napa Valley, California

Best of Class:

Best of Class Cabernet Franc
2010 Peju Reserve, Napa, California ($110)

Best of Class Bordeaux Blend
2010 Delaplane Williams Gap Blend, Virginia ($56)

Best of Class Dry Rosé
2012 Rugg Rosé, Napa Valley, California ($18)

Best of Class Merlot
2010 Chateau St. Michelle Cold Creek Vineyard Merlot, Columbia Valley, Washington ($35)

Best of Class Petite Sirah
2011 Michael David Earthquake, Lodi, California ($26)

Best of Class Pinot Noir
2011 Miner Pinot Noir Rosella’s Vineyard, Sta. Lucia Highlands, California ($60)

Best of Class Rhone Blend:
2010 Sol Rouge Gypsy Rouge, North Coast, California ($28)

Best of Class Syrah
2009 Gamache Syrah, Columbia Valley, Washington ($30)

Best of Class Zinfandel
2012 Titus Zinfandel, Napa Valley, California ($30)

Best of Class Other Red
NV Reverie Barbera Diamond Mountain District, California ($30)

Best of Class Other White
2012 Ferrante Gewurztraminer, Ohio ($15)

Best of Class Sauvignon Blanc
201 Beltane Ranch Estate Sauvignon Blanc, Sonoma Valley, California ($29)

To view the complete list of all results from the 7th Annual American Fine Wine Competition, please click here. Also, don’t forget to mark your calendars for the AFWC Gala on April 4th, for more information, please click here.


It Rhymes with What? The De-Frenchification of Meritage!

Wine terminology can sometimes seem like a perplexing, esoteric language created solely to intimidate potential wine enthusiasts. Terms like: vin doux naturel, méthode champenoise and appellation d’origine contrôlée can definitely leave one feeling a bit tongue-tied. Ironically, there is one wine term of U.S. origin that frequently receives an unnecessary “Frenchification” by unwitting wine drinkers. That term, my fellow wine lovers, is “Meritage.”

The word “Meritage” actually rhymes with “heritage” and first appeared in the late 1980′s after a group of American vintners joined forces to create a name for New World wines blended in the tradition of Bordeaux. It was selected from more than 6,000 entries in an international contest to name this new wine classification. You see, most New World wines are labeled after the grape variety that comprises at least 75% of the blend (i.e. wines made from 75% Cabernet Sauvignon or more are labeled as such). Wines that did not meet this requirement were given the generic label of “table wine,” which did not always reflect the level of quality that was in the bottle. The term Meritage combines “merit,” representing the high quality of the grapes, with “heritage,” which recognizes the centuries-old tradition of blending, long considered the highest form of the winemaker’s art. While this may have started out as a case of “sour grapes” regarding winemaking restrictions, in 1988 The Meritage Association was officially formed to distinguish these high-quality, hand-crafted blended wines from ordinary, generic “table wines.”

Many Meritage wines have proprietary names in addition to, or rather than, Meritage. In
order to obtain a license and use the term Meritage on a label, a wine must meet certain criteria. The blending of Meritage wines is limited to the traditional “noble” Bordeaux varietals. A red meritage may be a blend of two or more of the varieties Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Petit Verdot, Malbec and the rarer St. Macaire, Gros Verdot and Carmenère. A white meritage may be a blend of two or more of Sauvignon Blanc, Sémillon, and Muscadelle du Bordelais. For both red and white wines, no single variety can make up more than 90% of the blend and if any other wine is included in the blend, the wine is simply not a Meritage.

In May of 2009, The Meritage Association officially changed its name to The Meritage Alliance and 2013 marks the organization’s 25th anniversary. The Alliance has over 250 members and includes such recognizable names as Robert Mondavi Wines, B.R. Cohn Winery, Charles Krug Winery, and St. Supery Winery. So while the word “Meritage” may appear to have French roots and it may even be more fun saying it that way (I’ll give you that) – do not be seduced into “Frenchifying” it!