Judgment days, chronicled

What a week. Tasted nigh onto 500 wines, and most of them were good :o). I was judging at the San Francisco Chronicle competition, and yes it was work. (You try judging 43 domestic ports in one afternoon.) Some highlights:

• One of my panel’s weirdest categories was “de-alcoholized wines,” a first for my fellow panelists and myself. After trying and spitting the first one, a quite tasty Brut, I blurted out, “Wait a minute! We can swallow.”

• Kent Rosenblum was on hand, as always, and the Minnesota native shared some Ole & Lena jokes (too long to recount here, even if I could remember them) at a dinner. He prefaced the japes with this: “Did you know that the Swedes invented the toilet seat? But it was the Norwegians who put in the hole.”

• By the way, Kent is back consulting for the Rosenblum winery that he sold to Diageo almost a decade ago. (The wines need the help.) Also learned that Kent and his daughter Shonna, at their current winery Rock Wall, are making an “Ole & Lena” zin,

• Other stuff I gleaned: that the phrase “heart-warming” often is used as a euphemism for high alcohol; that I’m more OK with some brett than most judges; and that a good way to approach aromas in wine, from panel mate Greg Burns, is ” ‘I’m expecting this’ rather than ‘it tells me this.’ ”

• And the winners from among 6,850-plus U.S. wines were …
Sparkling: Korbel, 2013 Brut, Russian River Valley
White (tie) Hanna, 2016 Sauvignon Blanc, Russian River Valley, and Castello di Amorosa, 2015 Gewurztraminer, Anderson Valley
Pink: Trentadue, 2015 Rosato di Sangiovese Estate, Alexander Valley (way to go, Miro!)
Red: Tonti Family Wines, 2013 Barrel Aged Zinfandel, Russian River Valley.
Dessert/specialty: Coopers Hawk Winery & Restaurants, Icewine, Vidal Blanc, Illinois


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