An earthy Lodi Zinfandel, a delicate and floral Chenin Blanc from Washington State and a superb sparkler from New York's Finger Lakes were among the top winners at the 2012 American Wine Society Commercial Wine Competition held November 6-8 in Portland, Ore.
The AWS competition is one of the oldest, most respected wine competitions in the country, drawing entries from across the United States and Canada. Contrary to industry trends, this year's competition enjoyed a 20 percent increase in wines entered.
For the first time this year the competition included a spirits category in honor of the host region's renown for boutique distillers. Initiated this year as well was a signature award for a varietal grape identified with the host region. Since this year's American Wine Society national conference and commercial wine competition were held in Oregon, the spotlight was naturally on Pinot Noir. Overall, seven categories judged at the competition yielded a total of 22 double golds, requiring unanimous acclaim by the panel of judges, and 54 gold medals.
The Best of Show winner, also garnering Best Red Wine, was a 2010 Klinker Brick Zinfandel Old Vine Marisa Vineyard from Lodi, California, produced by Steve and Lori Felten – an earthy, rich, deeply flavorful old vine Zin. The 2012 Signature Award Pinot Noir winner was small producer Cottonwood Winery from Oregon's famed Willamette Valley for its 2005 Brigette Catherine, a fine example of Oregon pinot excellence.
Other category winners included:
• Best white wine: Washington State's Kiona Vineyards Winery 2011 Chenin Blanc.
• Best dessert wine: California's Ficklin Vineyards 10 years aged Tawny Port.
• Best sparkling wine: A non-vintage blanc de blanc from New York's Swedish Hill Vineyards.
• Best rosé: New York's Coyote Moon Vineyard 2011 River Run.
• Best fruit wine: A non-vintage peach wine from Lone Star Gold of Texas.
• Best distilled: A limoncello from Oregon's Glaser Estate Winery.
A complete list of winners, including those earning silver or bronze, can be seen at americanwinesociety.org.
The competition was held over two days at the Red Lion Riverside Hotel in Portland in conjunction with the American Wine Society's 45th annual conference. Judges included graduates of the rigorous AWS wine judging certification program along with leading wine writers and other prominent wine professionals.