arizona wine competition

Arizona Judgment: Arizona Wines Vs. the World wine competition RESULTS

June 2nd 2010, Arizona wines faced off against wines from around the world in a blind competition.  The results were stunning.  Let’s take a look…

1st place white: Callaghan Vineyards, 2008 Lisa’s.  Unfortunately this wine seems to be sold out.

1st place red:  Caduceus Cellars, 2008 Judith

These wines were pitted against the likes of Santa Margherita,

Assessing the juice

Conundrum, Doyenne Metier, Turley and Cakebread.  The red matchups included Ruffino Chianti Classico, Mollydooker the boxer, Condado de Haza, Cotes du Rhone E. Guigal and Chateau Lynch Bages.

Here is the top 5 for white wines and red wines:

1. Callaghan 2008 ‘Lisa’s Arizona
2. Santa Margherita 2008 Pinot Grigio Italy
3. Cakebread Cellars 2008 Chardonnay California
4. Caduceus 2008 ‘Dos Ladrones’ Arizona
5. Carlson Creek 2008 Chardonnay Arizona

1. Caduceus 2008 ‘Nagual del Judith’ Arizona
2. Condado de Haza 2006 Ribiera del Duero Spain
3. Keeling Schaefer 2007 ‘Three Sisters’ Syrah Arizona
4. Arizona Stronghold 2008 ‘Nachise’ Arizona
5. Mollydooker 2008 ‘The Boxer’ Shiraz Australia

The judges were:

Gary Vaynerchuck- Winelibrary, and Vayner Media

Laura Williamson- Master Sommelier

The panelists

Chris Bianco-  Pizzeria Bianco

Payton Curry – Cafe Boa

Mark Tarbell-  Tarbell’s restaurant

Tadeo Borchardt – wine maker at California’s Neyers Vineyards

Anne Rosenzweig – New York City award winning chef

The judges tasted all the wines in a blind setting.  First they were brought 10 glasses of white wine and when they were done analyzing those, they were brought 10 glasses of red wine. They analyzed elements of each wine according to Sommelier Journal’s guidelines and rated on the Journal’s 20 point system.  1 point would represent a wine that has absolutely no redeeming qualities, and 20 points would represent a wine that has every redeeming quality. They analyzed the color, aroma, acidity, structure and balance., as well as mouthfeel and finish.  The room was very quiet during the judging as the panelists were not allowed to talk to each other and the press was not allowed to talk to the panelists.  There were 15 traditional media outlets and 4 non traditional -aka bloggers on hand.  When the judges were finished, their scores were collected and emailed to the Denver offices of Sommelier Journal for tabulation and analysis.  While everyone was waiting Journalists and Bloggers interacted with the judges.  During this time judges began speculating on where some of the wines were from.  One one in particular apparently had very distinct Bordeaux like qualities which must have been the 2005 Chateau Lynch Bages from Bordeaux.  Later on the scores came back via email and the results were revealed.  At this time the room was a buzz with activity.  Rhonni Moffit, executive director of The Arizona Wine Growers Association was on the phone ecstatically phoning her members to tell the good news.  Bloggers were texting furiously the results to twitter.  Cameras flashed and filmed.

In all in all the event was a super success for Arizona wines.  The positive attention will go a long way to educating the local public as well as the general public on the fact that best of Arizona wines can compete with the best of the world.

Arizona Judgement 2010: Arizona Wines Vs. The World

All eyes and palates will be on Arizona wines on June 2nd, for Arizona Judgement 2010. Pavle Millic, co-owner of FnB restaurant will be hosting the event.

Arizona State Flag

Note:  The event is not open to the public.  FnB can only fit about 35 people, so the event is limited to judges and a few members of the press.  This event is reminiscent of the Judgment of Paris, 1976.  The movie “Bottle Shock” is based on those events.

Here’s how it is going to work:  There will be 5 red and 5 white wines from Arizona going head to head against wines of the world.  It will be a blind tasting, so the judges won’t know which is which.  The Judges will make notes and keep score.  At the end, the wines and results will be revealed.

Who are the  Panelists?

An Arizona wine

Gary Vaynerchuk:  Host of the daily wine blog “Wine Library TV”, New York Times best seller “Crush It!”, and co owner of Vayner Media. a branding and consulting firm.

Laura Williamson:   Laura Williamson is one of only 105 people in North America who have earned the title of ‘Master Sommelier and she is one of only 15 women with the title.  Laura is also a Certified Wine Educator.  She is co-owner of Vin Tabla restaurant in Tucson where she manages the wine list.  She also lectures nationally. Check out her Bio at the Court of Master Sommeliers.

Tadeo Borchardt:  Tadeo is winemaker for Napa Valley’s Neyers Vineyards. Neyers Vineyards regularly scores 90+ points from Wine Advocate and Wine Spectator.  Tadeo graduated Magna Cum Laude from the University of Arizona.

Anne Rosenzweig: Anne has earned not one but two elusive and prestigious 3 Star Ratings from the New York Times.  One for each of ear East Side Manhattan restaurants Arcadia and the Lobster Club.  She opened Arcadia in 1985, and the Lobster Club in 1995. Read a little more about Anne in this article from Cuisine Net’s Diner’s Digest.

Mark Tarbell:  Mark is owner of Tarbell’s restaurant on Camelback, as well as the Oven, and the restaurant Home in Colorado.  He is also Arizona Republics wine critic.  Mark’s restaurants have won dozens of awards including Food and Wine’s “Best Restaurant”.  Mark has also been a judge at The Los Angeles International Wine Competition for the past 10 years.

Chris Bianco: Chef at Pizzeria  Bianco, James Beard award-winning chef that is!  Pizzeria Bianco has been rated by the New York Times as one of the best Pizzeria’s in the WORLD!!

Sommelier Journal will be assessing the results and providing final analysis.

I recently emailed Pavle Milic some questions I had about him, and the event:

WWJ: Where are you from, where did you grow up?

Pavle Milic:  Father defected from Communist Yugoslavia (Montenegro) in 1962.  He landed in Colombia, South America where he met my mom and I happened.  I grew up in Queens, New York with a pack of Jews and Italians.  I can say Shabbat Shalom on the weekends, drink grappa and break a leg (someone else’s) all at the same time.

WWJ:  How did you end up in Arizona?

Pavle Milic: Parents moved here in 1988 to open an Italian restaurant called Franco’s Trattoria on Mountain View and Hayden

WWJ: How long have you been in the restaurant business?

Pavle Milic: 22 years

WWJ:  How did you come up with the Arizona Judgement idea?  Was there an aha! moment?

Pavle Milic:  I have tasted a lot of guests in a blind setting.  Arizona wines have always faired well. When I performed blind tastings before I decided to do the list, guests loved the wine. Now that the wines are on a printed list–assumptions are made, like the wine isn’t good.   If you are judging a wine on balance and quality I think they are great.   I thought, why not have a tasting where we pair AZ juice against other wine regions and see what happens.  So here we are!

WWJ:  You are a very enthusiastic promoter of Arizona wines, why?

Pavle Milic: It felt good. I am not reinventing the wheel. Many restaurants close to wine regions pour the local bounty of the terroir. I figure this was a no-brainer. The idea of pouring local wines was also analogous to the way Charleen(Charleen Badman Co-Owner and head Chef at FnB) sources most of the time. I also felt honored and proud to partake, even at a limited capacity, in the beginning of something special. The folks that I met were passionate, creative, irreverent and true. I remember reading about Napa and its grassroots beginnings and the pioneering spirit of its people. I felt I was rubbing elbows with people whose energy was redolent of times past. I also felt that by pouring these wines I would help the local economy and minimize carbon footprint.  I firmly believe that this is how you build community. You support each other and endorse each other for working hard and making Arizona a great place to live. It is certainly acceptable to look outside of our state for inspiration, but there is so much to be proud of here. If the wines were not balanced and quality driven, I would not have done this. BTW-I love wines from all over the world.