When a winery chooses to enter a wine competition, they hope for a medal, with gold being the best. One of the awards a wine might receive is “best of class,” which is much more than a 2000 comedy movie about a dog show.
The best-of-class award typically is used to highlight the top wine in a category. For an example, in the recent sixth annual Cascadia International Wine Competition, there were 94 expressions of Cabernet Sauvignon entered, and nearly as many rosés. Among those Cabs, the panels awarded more than a dozen gold medals. The judges then taste all of them against one another to determine the best Cabernet Sauvignon — the best of class.
Here are a few of the best-of-class winners from this year’s Cascadia International Wine Competition. Ask for them at your favorite wine shop or contact the wineries directly.
Find the judgings complete results at www.greatnorthwestwine.com
Belle Fiore Winery 2014 Belle Arte Estate Montepulciano, Rogue Valley, $37: Belle Fiore Winery based in Ashland, Ore., produces small lots of of wines with an Italian theme. A bit of vanilla and blackberries dominate in the nose with rich, plummy fruit on the palate, leaving a flannel-like mouth feel.
Cave B Estate Winery 2017 Cave B Vineyards Viognier, Ancient Lakes of Columbia Valley, $27: Freddy Arredondo’s interpretation of this Rhône Valley white grape offers aromas of peach, nectarine and pear, with flavors to match. It shows off bright ripe fruit which creates the perception of sweetness in this dry wine, with a delightfully full mouth feel and spot-on acid to balance.
Wit Cellars 2015 Cabernet Franc, Yakima Valley, $45: This young winery project based by Prosser, Wash., and led by veteran winemaker Flint Nelson comes with wonderful fragrances of blackberry, plum, violets, subtle smokiness and a hint of root beer, backed by juicy consistency, tingling tannins and blackberry jam.
Fletcher Bay Winery 2015 Kylee’s Barrel Select Private Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, Walla Walla Valley, $48: This boutique Bainbridge Island, Wash., producer reached across the Cascades into the Walla Walla Valley’s Los Oidos Vineyard for its prized Cab. Dark blue fruit and spice aromas are followed by flavors of black cherry and blackcurrant, spice and generous tannins that sport dark chocolate elements in its lengthy finish.
Reustle-Prayer Rock Vineyards 2015 Timnah Bloc Estate Tempranillo, Umpqua Valley, $29: Plums, smoky dates, figs with a touch of black pepper accompany bold tannins and bright acidity. This begs to be paired with Manchego and olives.
Westport Winery 2016 Bordello Blonde, Yakima Valley, $28: We would love to know the origin of the name “Bordello Blonde.” Perhaps it has something to do with the alluring fragrance of this Gewürztraminer/Riesling blend? The lychee and apricot jump from the glass, propelled by honeysuckle. The fragrance is dense and infectious, giving way to a dry wine with so much ripe fruit that questioned the level of sweetness.
Simpatico Cellars 2015 The Bos, Columbia Valley, $19: This Woodinville, Wash., tipped its hat to guru Peter Bos for its Malbec-centered red blend. The Bos opens with deep blackberry and plum aromas, followed by flavors of blackberry, blueberry, black currant and plum, ending with well-managed tannins.
14 Hands Winery 2017 Rosé, Washington, $10: This rosé of Syrah shows off aromas of rose petal, blueberry and a touch of leather. Across the dry palate is a delivery of strawberries and cream, white pepper and watermelon. It’s ideal for spring and summer.
Eric Degerman and Andy Perdue run Great Northwest Wine, a news and information company; www.greatnorthwestwine.com