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Wine: Virginia tops the seaboard, again

Virginia took top honors at this year's Atlantic Seaboard Wine Competition, with Best of Show awarded to Rosemont of Virginia winery for its 2007 Meritage.

It was the third time in the competition's six years that a Virginia wine has captured the top ranking. The annual judging was initiated in 2005 by the Atlantic Seaboard Wine Association to showcase advances in viticulture up and down the East Coast.

I was one of 20 judges who swirled, sipped and spat their way through 538 wines entered by 110 wineries last weekend at the Dominion Valley Country Club in Prince William County. Wineries in all states bordering the Atlantic, plus West Virginia and Vermont, were eligible to enter. Judges included winemakers, retailers, certified wine judges and journalists.

The winning wine first had to impress five judges enough to win a gold medal. It then was tasted by another panel of five judges against all gold-medal winners in the Bordeaux Red Blends category, and was selected as Best of Category. At the end of the second day of tasting, all 20 judges sat down to evaluate 15 gold medal, Best of Category wines to select their top five and, ultimately, Best of Show. At each stage, the judges were told the category, the vintage and the blend of grapes in each wine, but we did not know the name of the winery or what state the wine was from.

The Best of Show round was the only time I encountered the Rosemont, which sells for $23 at the winery in LaCrosse, in southern Virginia. I was impressed with its aroma, cassis flavors, depth and balance and listed it in my top five of the round. But it was a difficult choice to narrow down to five, as the Best of Show round was especially strong this year. That's probably because reds were from the 2007 vintage, which was especially good all along the East Coast. But I believe it is also a reflection of how winemaking is improving.

The judges were in a good mood last weekend, awarding 34 gold, 111 silver and 188 bronze medals. The Best of Category list shows the diversity of winemaking along the coast. Out of 32 Best of Category winners, 16 were from Virginia, 10 from New York, two each from Pennsylvania and New Jersey, and one each from Maryland and North Carolina. Maryland's Best of Category went to Bordeleau winery for its 2007 Chardonnay. The dominance of Virginia and New York reflects the size of each state's wine industry.

My personal favorites were Best of Class winners Dr. Konstantin Frank Gewurztraminer 2008, and Glenora 2009 Dry Riesling, both from the Finger Lakes in New York. The Glenora was a prime example of the new emerging Finger Lakes style for dry Riesling – lime zest and flowers, light and delicate as gossamer. The Gewurztraminer combined the classic litchi flavor of the grape with admirable depth and restraint. I didn't want to merely drink those wines; I wanted to take them home and cuddle with them.

-- Dave McIntyre
(Follow me on Twitter.)

By The Food Section  |  July 22, 2010; 7:00 AM ET
Categories:  Wine  | Tags: Dave McIntyre, wine  
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Cosign on Dr. Frank. A great wine. Is the full list of winners available?


Posted by: FairlingtonBlade | July 23, 2010 12:00 AM | Report abuse

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