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© 1998 JDM Enterprises
All Rights Reserved


by Jerry D. Mead

The New World International Wine Competition is the first of the top ten judgings in America to take place each year, taking place as it does in February. Because it is first it is also very often a harbinger of things to come.

For example, the number of entries were up this year, which says two things. Other competitions will almost certainly see increased entries as well, and the wine shortages of recent years are loosening up and the wineries are becoming more marketing oriented.

Another thing that's important about NWIWC is that year after year, many of its top medal winners go on to win medal after medal and top scores from the wine rating publications. Using the results as a buying guide is very wise. We'll report on some and the official awards book will be available in a few weeks. You can order your copy in advance by sending $6 to: NWIWC Winners, Box 1598, Carson City, NV 89702.

As mentioned last week, NWIWC not only awards gold, silver and bronze medals, but sponsored trophies for most of the important categories as well. Here's some more of those top winners.

The Dry Creek Vineyard Trophy for Best New World Sauvignon (Fume) Blanc and The Brown-Forman Trophy for Best New World White Wine go to tiny Fallbrook Winery 1996 "California" Sauvignon Blanc ($7). Alas! Production is very limited and distribution is pretty much limited to California. The style, by the way, is softly, but very intensely varietal. It has the good grassy quality Sauvignon is known for. The winery is located in San Diego County and I'm told the wine is 100 percent from nearby Temecula in Riverside County. Fallbrook/Bellefleur Winery (760) 603-9861.

The NWIWC Trophy for Best New World Rose is another one of those frustratingly limited releases from yet another small winery, but it has distinguished itself by winning the same trophy two consecutive years with wine from the same vineyard. And the winner is Hart 1997 "Collins Ranch- Cucamonga Valley" Grenache Rose ($9). It has the most beautiful light red color, a fresh berry-fruit aroma and a taste that is a bite of ripe strawberry. There is a moderate level of sweetness. About 450 cases were produced. Hart Winery (909) 676-6300.

The Grand Champion Kenwood 1995 "Nun's Canyon" Zinfandel ($19) was reported on last week, but I know a bit more about it now, and I made a serious omission. I guessed by taste it was from an old vineyard. Well, how about a 100 year old, dry-farmed, high elevation Sonoma Valley vineyard? And I mentioned the Grand Champion Trophy from American Airlines and the Beaulieu Vineyard Trophy for Best Red Wine, but I forgot to mention the new E&J Gallo Winery, Julio Gallo Memorial Trophy for Best New World Zinfandel. Zinfandel was Julio's favorite red grape and he would have been especially pleased that the first winner of the trophy named in his memory was from Sonoma County.

All winners are not the classic varieties and styles. NWIWC is open to every type of wine or distilled product made from every type of grape, fruit or berry grown anywhere in the "New World."

A frequent winner is a winery from Kansas that specializes in wines made from Elderberries. The range of styles is amazing, from dry, to slightly sweet to dessert styles, and the drier versions are definitely food compatible.

This year the Kansas producer claims the honor of making the Best New World Fruit or Berry Wine, for Wildwood Cellars 1997 Spiced Elderberry ($8.50), which the winery recommends serving hot. I've had it at room temperature and it's delicious and I suspect it would be good on the rocks this summer. If you're going to the heartland, Wildwood Cellars (316) 777-9191.

There's no trophy for the category, but fans of Beringer 1997 White Zinfandel ($6) won't let that stop them and it did win everything from a gold medal, to "Best of Price Class," to "Best New World White Zinfandel" honors. The residual sweetness this year is nearly 3 1/2 percent, among the highest in the field of entries. But it has good acidity and with fresh strawberry-cherry fruit it doesn't come off too sweet for most folks. This one is available everywhere, including many supermarkets.

The winner of this year's Bandiera Winery Trophy for Best New World Cabernet Sauvignon goes to fellow Sonoma County vintner Windsor Vineyards for 1994 "Alexander Valley-Private Reserve" ($20), a very stylistic wine, with a firm backbone and a very Bordeaux-like mouthfeel and plenty of new oak nuance. It's a keeper. Windsor is primarily available via the mails where legal, and is one of the top three or four medal winning wineries, year in and year out. Windsor Vineyards (800) 333-9987.

McDowell Valley Vineyards 1996 "Mendocino" ($15) takes the Best New World Viognier honors for its popular white wine that is dry, but with peach-skin richness. McDowell Valley Vineyards (707) 744-1053.

Another limited production wine picked up the Doug Davis/Sebastiani Vineyards Trophy for Best New World Pinot Noir: Greenwood Ridge 1996 "Anderson Valley" ($22). Greenwood Ridge (707) 895-2002.

Winner of the Fetzer Vineyards Gus Furtado Memorial Trophy for Best New World Petite Sirah is Concannon 1995 "California" ($9.95). It's interesting to note that this widely available and moderately priced version outshined the "estate" version I usually prefer. Concannon Vineyards (510) 456-2500.

In coming weeks, a few more trophy winners and lots of gold medalists in your favorite classes. Questions for Jerry Mead can be directed to (800) 845-9463 or E-mail:

Wines are scored using a unique 100 point system. First number rates quality; second number rates value.

© 1998 JDM Enterprises. All Rights Reserved
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