Saturday, March 13, 2010

Ohio, Finger Lakes Wines Claim Grand Harvest Awards Gold

Vineyard above Canandagua Lake, New York State...Image via Wikipedia

Wines from Ohio, Niagara Peninsula Ontario and the Finger Lakes region of New York have claimed gold medal honors in the Grand Harvest Awards, a unique wine competition that focuses on terroir.

Established in 1990, it is the only wine-judging event in North America that is based on terroir - a group of vineyards (or even vines) from the same region, belonging to a specific appellation, and sharing the same type of soil, weather conditions, grapes and wine making savoir-faire, which contribute to give its specific personality to the wine. In other competitions, this factor is ignored. At the Grand Harvest, judges taste wines with other wines of the same appellation. Thus, with cross-regional competition removed, the inherent quality of wines can be seen without the influences that sometimes eclipse even a wine of very high quality.

Gold Medal winners were as follows:

Ontario, Niagara Peninsula (DVA): Hillebrand Winery, 08 Trius Riesling, $14.05; Hillebrand Winery, 08 Trius Chardonnay, Barrel Fermented, $18.95; and Peller Estates Winery, 08 Family Series Riesling, $11.05.

Ohio, Grand River Valley (AVA): Chalet Debonne Vineyards, 08 Riesling, $10.99; Ferrante , Ferrante Winery, 08 Riesling, Signature Series, $15.00.

New York, Finger Lakes (AVA): Dr. Konstantin Frank, 08 Gewurztraminer, Reserve, $24.99.

New York, Cayuga Lake (AVA): Hosmer Winery, Riesling, $12.00.

The full list of winners can be found here.

Dr. Frank and Ferrante are favorites and other great wineries can be found among the silver and bronze medals. I was a bit surprised that Michigan didn't land some medals.

A goal of Grand Harvest is to learn more about how terroir contributes qualities of excellence and distinctiveness to wines. Over the course of this event, judges have learned to recognize when terroir is - and is not - a factor of wine quality. We think the bar has been lifted a little, and as a result, each year we perceive greater interest in terroir by winemakers and critics alike. Favorable awards support increased local and regional sales. A win in Grand Harvest can put your wine into a whole new sales category.

All wines are judged in the context of their viticultural region in order to accomplish two things: greater sensitivity to the complexities and nuances of regional wines and also to measure the influence of regional soil and weather characteristics on the taste and quality of individual wines.

The 2010 Grand Harvest Awards, completed its mission to recognize outstanding wines from all over the world and simultaneously studying the effects of terroir on wine characteristics. The 20th annual Grand Harvest Awards was held February 24-25, 2010 at Sonoma Mountain Village, Rohnert Park, California. Twenty-three judges evaluated over 1,500 entries and awarded a total of 141 gold, 426 silver and 457 bronze medals. Garnering medals at the Grand Harvest Awards has been tough to achieve historically because of its high standards of excellence. Wine competitions are invaluable purchasing tools that help consumers choose from over 5,000 wineries in the US alone.

Most entries in the Grand Harvest Awards were grown and produced in the United States and Canada with some originating in Australia, Eurasia (France, Germany, Italy, Spain and Turkey), Mexico, New Zealand, South Africa and South America (Argentina and Chile). In Grand Harvest there are two principal classes of entry; those with specific geographical appellations and those without. Both are treated with equal emphasis, but terroir discovery is not attempted in classes without geographical specificity. To win, your wine must be nominated for Bronze or higher by each of the three judges per panel.

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