4th Annual Cold Climate Wine Competition Calls for Entries

May 29

Deadline to register is August 6, 4:30 CDT

MINNEAPOLIS / ST. PAUL (5/25/2012) -Wines made from grapes grown in cold climates will be in the limelight when judges gather for the 4rd annual International Cold Climate Wine Competition this August.

The competition will take place Aug. 16 on the campus of the University of Minnesota, where several of the cold-hardy wine grapes were developed.

This year’s competition includes additional categories for ice wines, cold-hardy fruit/grape blends, and wines made from the variety Brianna. Judges will do a blind tasting of the wines and award gold, silver and bronze medals, and best of show awards to the top red, white, and specialty wines. The “Governor’s Cup” is given to the favorite Minnesota wine of the internationally recognized wine experts on the judging panel.

Minnesota’s grape and wine industry is expanding rapidly and last year contributed an estimated $40 million to the state’s economy. Since 1995, the number of wineries has grown from seven to 43; total sales are expected to exceed $11.3 million by 2014.

“The competition is more evidence of the increasing quality of cold-climate grapes,” said Jim Luby, a professor in the U of M’s department of horticultural science and one of the scientists developing the grapes. “A number of grape varieties with improved potential for high quality wines have become available in the last 15 years. This competition is an opportunity for winemakers to showcase their skill and imagination in transforming these varieties to superior wines in a rapidly growing new industry.”

To see a complete set of rules and to register, go to www.mngrapegrowers.com/competition

Wines of the Week: Ankida Ridge Pinot Noir 2010, Boxwood Vineyards’ “Boxwood” 2010

May 11

My tasting experience at Tastecamp recently (see last post) revealed lots of fine wines, but the two stand-outs are so good I have to leave room for the both to share the spotlight.

These days, newcomers joining the industry who say they want to make pinot noir in Virginia (or most anywhere in the East) can expect to get laughed at, since so many have failed (and are still failing) in that quixotic quest. In Virginia, the high humidity, thin skins, and tight clusters of the pinot noir combine to make an uphill battle for those struggling to make a well-ripened pinot that is free from rot, damaged grapes, and will make a wine worth the effort.

However, the new, small, Burgundian-style winery Ankida Ridge high in Amherst County is not only focused and passionate, but has done their homework from the ground up, hiring viticulturist Lucie Morton and paying attention to every detail in the process. The result is the most remarkable pinot noir I’ve had from the Eastern U.S. (Le Clos Jordanne in Ontario’s Niagara Bench makes an equally impressive one). This wine was tasted at the multi-winery tasting hosted by Boxwood Vineyards at TasteCamp.

Ankida Ridge Pinot Noir 2010 Virginia: The color was translucent but a healthy dark hue of red/violet, with no hint of orange. The nose was a brilliant mix of red and black cherry with some exotic spices; cardamom and anise with a hint of pepper. A sexy combination! On the palate, intensely bright and vivid flavors of cherry mixed with the spice elements, and a vibrant crisp acidity, crucial to any successful Burgundian-style pinot. The fruit and palate dimension were full (13.5% alcohol) but the finish was fresh and long. Stylistically, this was close to the Marlborough style of pinot noir from New Zealand, i.e. fully ripe but with lots of vibrant acidity to balance. Ankida Ridge also knew what not to do, i.e. they let the wine be fruit-forward with oak tastefully in the background.

So, as they say, you CAN successfully make pinot noir in Virginia, only you can’t afford to make any mistakes. Ankida Ridge has taken the trouble to avoid the mistakes, and made fine wine instead! (Note: I expect to be impressed by the 2011 Ox Eye pinot noir from the Shenandoah Valley; despite the wretched track record of reds from that vintage in Virginia, I tasted it in the barrel, and it was harvested BEFORE the September rains started).

Boxwood Vineyards “Boxwood” 2010: This is Boxwood’s “right bank” style blend dominated by cabernet sauvignon, merlot and petit verdot. This was the best vintage in a decade for Virginia reds. The nose was a complex blend of ripe cassis, clean earth, cedar and cigar box. On the palate, ripe full fruit flavors are followed by deep rich texture of smooth tannins, earth tones and mocha chocolate.

Developing early, this will drink best starting in the fall and evolve well over the next decade.

TasteCamp 2012 Showcases Virginia for Wine Writers, Bloggers

May 11

TasteCamp, an annual regional wine event for wine writers and bloggers, organized by Lenn Thompson of the New York Cork Report and Frank Morgan (Drink What YOU Like) took place last weekend in Northern Virginia. A sold-out group of 40 visited wineries, tasted from groups of wineries across the state pouring for them, and learned close up about the state of Virginia wine today.

This author distributed autographed copies of Beyond Jefferson’s Vines to attendees and enjoyed a fine lunch accompanied by 2007 and 2010 vintage wines from Boxwood Vineyards, and a post-lunch tasting of wineries from around the state.

Frank Morgan, co-organizer, has posted remarks from participating wineries (“from the other side of the punt”) on his blog; readers can visit http://drinkwhatyoulike.wordpress.com/2012/05/08/view-from-the-punt-perspectives-on-tastecamp-from-the-other-side-of-the-bottle-part-i/.

VA Wine Council Announces Fundraising Dinner 5/25 at Philip Carter Winery

May 09

The Virginia Wine Council is co-hosting a fundraising dinner on May 25th at Philip Carter Winery in Hume. A Colonial Feast: Commending the Virginia Wine Industry on Occasion of its 250th Anniversary, will kick-off the VWC’s 2012 fundraising and features an elegant evening wine dinner that takes guests on a culinary excursion through the five centuries of Virginia wine.

Make plans now to join honorary guests including the Virginia Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry Todd Haymore, Virginia Senator Jill Vogel and Virginia Delegate Michael Webert as we join together to celebrate the 250th anniversary of internationally recognized fine wines produced in Virginia.

Reservations are required and seating is limited. Reservations and sponsorships are now available.

Please visit the event webpage for more information.

Drink Local Wine Sets Attendance Record At Most Successful Conference Yet in CO

May 09

DENVER (May 9, 2012) – DLW 2012: Colorado, the fourth annual regional wine conference organized by DrinkLocalWine, not only set an attendance record, but played host to more media than ever before and likely set a conference best for social media participation.

“The only question left after this year: ‘How do we top it next year?’ ” says DLW president and co-founder Jeff Siegel. “But that’s the nature of the beast — the enthusiasm for regional wine is such that we always seem to do just that.”

The conference, held at Metro State College in Denver on April 28, sold out, with some 200 consumers and media in attendance. Among those on hand were 1 Wine Dude blogger Joe Roberts, who wrote about local wine as part of the local food movement; David White of Terroirist, who noted that the regional wine movement continues to gain momentum; and George Taber, author of the “The Judgment of Paris,” who found Colorado cabernet franc much to his liking.

Olivia Wilder, host of the top-rated Olivia Wilder Times on the blogtalk.com radio network, broadcast her show live from the conference, interviewing winemakers and personalities during the Nomacorc-Colorado Twitter Taste-off. Downloads of the program exceeded the network’s expectations and were the most ever for the three years she has broadcast from the conference.

Other conference highlights:
• Nomacorc-Colorado Twitter Taste-off winners: Ruby Trust Cellars Smuggler, a cabernet franc-based blend, for best red wine; Guy Drew Vineyards pinot gris for best white wine and Media Choice; and Redstone Meadery Nectar of the Hops for People’s Choice.
• Jess Hunter, a Denver food blogger (@JessHunter) won the Nomacorc Most Creative Tweet award. Among her standouts: “I scream, you scream, we all scream when they oak riesling.”
• Colorado Wine Industry Development Board executive director Doug Caskey received the annual Friend of DrinkLocalWine honor for his tireless work in promoting the state’s wines.
• Robert Kolkman, who said Colorado was his favorite wine region among The Other 47, was the winner in the Amtrak Colorado Wine Country Getaway. He receives two tickets on the California Zephyr between Denver and Grand Junction.

DLW 2012 follows the success of the first three conferences — in Dallas featuring Texas wine in 2009, in Loudoun County featuring Virginia wine in 2010, and in St. Louis featuring Missouri wine in 2011. DLW also holds an annual Regional Wine Week in October, in which wine bloggers, writers and columnists from the U.S. and Canada write about their favorite regional wines, ranging from Ontario to New York to Florida to Texas to Colorado.

DrinkLocalWine’s goal is to spotlight wine made in the 47 states and Canada that aren’t California, Washington, and Oregon. It’s the brainchild of Washington Post wine columnist Dave McIntyre and wine blogger Jeff Siegel, the Wine Curmudgeon. For information about DrinkLocalWine.com, call (469) 554-9463, email drinklocalwine@gmail.com or follow us on Twitter.