Spending two full days with a bunch of sommeliers teaches many lessons, not the least of which is the old adage, “chacun à son gout,” which, if French is not to your taste, means, “everyone has her/her taste.” In other words, wine, like most of life, is a very subjective pursuit.
I spent such a pair of days last week with some of South Florida’s top sommeliers at the Best in Glass Wine Challenge, a taste-off that saw our intrepid pro palates plowing through 370 wines to find the best options to pour by the glass in their restaurants, and, by extension, in your home. And the old adage proved true – there were only 11 wines that provoked a unanimously positive response from our tasters (out of consideration for your taste buds, I have set aside the greater number of wines that provoked a unanimously negative impression).
These 11 wines (2.9 percent of the entrants for the geekiest among you) that, by virtue of their unanimous acclaim earned a Double Gold Medal, spanned the gamut of style, grape variety and country of origin. Four of the wines were from California, three were from France, two were from Italy, and Spain and Greece each had one winner. Six of the wines are white (if you count the Champagne made exclusively from pinot noir) and five are red and all are absolutely delicious.
I was equally intrigued to find diversity of wineries among the 99 gold and double gold medal winners – there were actually a lot of properties represented. Only two winery properties, Castello Banfi in Tuscany and Proemio in Argentina, managed to grab four gold medals. Two wineries, Rubin Family Vineyards and Lafond Winery, both in California, managed to snare three gold medals and 14 wineries were able to win two medals. That means 71 other wineries also won gold medals, a pretty stunning occurrence, though I should note that there are several distinct wineries that have the same parent company guiding their quality standards.
When I look over the list, I am struck by the same thing I love to find when I survey a really good restaurant wine list – there are a lot of wines here I hadn’t heard of before. I’m dying now to try, among others, Boutari’s Moschofilero (a beautiful, lightly aromatic white wine), Pomar Junction’s Cotes de Pomar (a captivating blend of Rhône varietals roussanne, grenache blanc and viognier), a beautiful grand cru Champagne that Ernest Remy makes entirely from pinot noir, and the absolutely stunning late harvest gewurztraminer from Israel’s Carmel Winery. That list must also include a Basque wine, Errekalde Txakolina Hiruzta 2014 from Getariako Txakolina, Spain. It will take you less time to drink the bottle than it will to say the full name of the wine!
Some other wines on the gold medal roster are old friends that I haven’t tried in a long time, and I am eager to revisit: Dourthe’s Grand Cuvée sauvignon blanc is my wish list, as are the inexpensive and exceptionally food friendly BEX riesling, a value priced Bordeaux from Château Magnol, Marc Bredif’s vibrant Vouvray from the Loire Valley and Lafond’s pinot noir from Santa Rita Hills, a perennial gold medal winner at this competition that just gets better with every harvest.
We have posted the list of both the gold and the silver medal winners on the website so you can put together your own “must try” list. Many restaurants in South Florida will be featuring several of the gold medal wines during “Best in Glass Month,” September 9 to October 9, the five weeks leading up to the start of VeritageMiami. As we get closer to September we will post the list of participating restaurants so you can try as many of the Best in Glass wines as possible – the adventure begins and you get to decide what is best in your glass!