Most of the years that I have judged the California State Wine Competition, I have been assigned the Chardonnay category. I have been judging since 1992. I assume they give me that category because I really like Chardonnay, unlike some of the other judges.
This year was a nice surprise as I was assigned to one of the Zinfandel and Petite Sirah panels. We judged 2005 and 2007 Zinfandel and 2006 Petite Sirah.
Of course, this is a double blind judging so we don’t have any clue as to who the producer is or in what region the wine was produced. My panel was especially good this year. It is amazing to see how consistent 4 judges can be when judging, say, 34 wines at a time. When we got done judging in silence and turned toward our panel clerk to give our scores, we consistently gave medals to the same wines.
The 2007 Zinfandels we judged were very disappointing. But keep in mind that what was presented at our panel was just a tiny portion of 2007 Zinfandel produced, and may not be all that representative of that vintage. On the other hand, the 2005 Zinfandels we judged had some awesome examples among them. In fact, we awarded several gold medals and 4 double gold medals. A wine earns a double gold when all the judges on the panel give it a gold medal. I was not surprised that the 2005’s were so good as I have a few in my wine cellar and every one has been excellent, especially the ones from the Sierra Foothills region of California.
Petite Sirah is a little more difficult to judge as it does not have a clear benchmark of characteristics and flavor profile as does Zinfandel. But there were some very nice examples in the 2006 vintage wines we judged and we did award some gold medals, and a couple double gold medals. We could tell a good wine when we tasted it.
Like everyone else, I will be anxious to see the results of this competition and find out who I voted for.