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12:45 PM Judges still talking about the decision not to award a Best of Class Sparkling. California wine writer Dan Berger says it was a mistake -- that the wine we turned down was a great example of a winemaker doing a lot by not trying to put too much yeast or too much aging on a fresh, fruity bubbly. He thinks that's just the sort of wine be ought to be rewarding, that it would send a message to the industry.
1:10 PM Just voted a 2008 Semi-Dry Gewurztraminer as Best of Class Semi Dry White. It was a tie vote the first time around, with several other wines in the running -- so we did a revote and it beat out a semi-dry 2008 Riesling by a single vote, 12 to 11, with one judge not voting.
2:25 PM On a 15 minute break while they prepare samples for the afternoon sweepstakes -- Best of Class Dry Red, Semi-dry Red, and Fruit.
Judged cherry wines. Preceded by a discussion at our judging table on "why" -- as in why does MI make so many cherry wines. Answer: Because it's our state fruit, take it or leave it.
Wines range from insipid and syrupy to cinnamon-spiced to fairly deep and complex -- for those who scoff, this is actually a range of wines with some serious variety and quality variations. Difficult for people who don't drink it regularly to judge it, but we managed to give out two Silver medals and a Bronze among the 6 samples.
Don't mean to grumble, but I was really looking forward to judging the 2007 reds this year -- and our table has been assigned everything but. Before the Cherry, we judged five Merlots and Merlot blends from 2005, 2006 and 2008. Total awards: one bronze medal. Some other lucky bastards at another table are getting to judge the 2007 Merlot -- we'll get to taste their Gold Medal winners when everyone gets to vote for Best of Class.
Starting to pass out the Dry Reds for Best of Class -- looks like a lot of them! Seventeen! Gotta go taste...
3:30 PM Just awarded Best of Class Red to a 2007 Meritage -- blend of Merlot & Cab Franc.
Major league disputations. With 17 dry Gold Medal reds in the running for Best of Class, 5 finished within two votes of each other, but none got a majority of the judges' votes. Judges didn't especially like the rules that don't require the winning wine to get a majority for Best of Class, just a plurality. When there are 17 wines in the running, it's difficult for any one to become a clear winner.
Gotta go taste fruit wines...
3:55 PM A cherry wine Gold Medal from another table just got best fruit wine. No disputes here. Next up: dessert. We're running REALLY late today; supposed to be done an hour ago.
4:25 PM Finished our last flight -- Late Harvest wines. Gave a Gold Medal to a 2007 Vignoles -- really great pear flavors and 7.1% RS.
4:55 PM Best of Class Dessert Trophy just went to a Vidal Ice Wine -- 2008 Vintage, 18% RS.
Now waiting to vote on the Judges' Merit Award, and optional award for runners-up from the different categories.
Now in a 10 minute hiatus; then we vote Best of Class Dessert wine and decide whether to give any Judges' special awards. Then we can leave, though I'm planning to stick around to see if we can get a list of Best of Class winners and get some photos of them for the website.
5:30 PM Here are the winners in all classes:
Best Dry White: 2008 Left Foot Charley Pinot Blanc, Island View Vineyard, Old Mission
Best Semi-Dry White: 2008 Bel Lago Gewurztraminer, Leelanau
Best Dry Red: 2007 Gills Pier Merlot / Cab Franc, Leelanau
Best Rose: 2008 Forty-Five North Pinot Noir Rose, Leelanau
Best Dessert: 2008 Fenn Valley "42" Vidal Ice Wine, Lake Michigan Shore
Best Fruit: NV Longview Reserve Cherry Wine
Judges' Merit Award: 2008 Black Star Farms "Arcturos" Dry Riesling, Old Mission