March 12, 2019 – The 26th annual Monterey International Wine Competition gave the crown for Best of Monterey County to Ghost Hull 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon from San Lucas Vineyard, $42.99, with 96 points. This wine, produced by Scheid Family Wines at their Greenfield winery, impressed the judging panel as well as the Chief Judge, Rich Cook, who runs the competition.
It’s yet another confirmation of the winemaking prowess of this once grower-only company, that began planting vineyards as tax writeoffs back in the early days of Monterey wine country. Who knew? It’s from the San Lucas Vineyard, in the San Lucas AVA, about 20 miles south of the Scheid winery facility. With over 1k cases made, it is currently sold in Kroger stores all over the country.
It looks the part of a high-end Cabernet, with a classic label featuring sailing ships in a harbor that pays homage to the inspiration and influence of the Monterey Bay. The elegant packaging is topped off with a soft red wax capsule with a pull-tab, that is both practical and handsome. Nicely done!
Halter Ranch Named Winery of the Year At Monterey Wine Competition
Indeed, the winemaking team at Halter Ranch in Paso Robles has much to celebrate this year, having hauled away more Platinum awards than any other winery that submitted entries in this year’s contest.
Halter Ranch 2016 Ancestor Paso Robles; Adelaida District Estate Reserve $60.00 Platinum 95
Halter Ranch 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon Paso Robles; Adelaida District $40.00 Platinum 95 – also namedBest Cabernet Sauvignon,$40 and under
Halter Ranch 2018 Rosé Paso Robles; Adelaida District $26.00 Platinum 95 – also named Best Rosé
Halter Ranch 2016 CDP Paso Robles; Adelaida District $35.00 Platinum 94
Halter Ranch 2017 Grenache Blanc Paso Robles; Adelaida District $28.00 Platinum 94 – also named Best Grenache Blanc
Halter Ranch 2016 Syrah Paso Robles; Adelaida District $40.00 Gold 90
Personally, I love the Ancestor, and think it’s one of the best Cab blends out there.
Speaking of Paso, winemaker Amy Butler wowed our panel with her awesome Carignan, which took Platinum, Best of Class, and 95 points for her Ranchero Cellars 2016 The Tethered Beast Carignan from the Forchini Vineyards in Dry Creek Valley. She also scored Platinum for her Ranchero Cellars 2016 Revolver Paso Robles, 94 points. At two for two, that makes her the winningest female winemaker of the contest. Funny story: there were three Carignans in the category: one was awesome, one was awful and one was corked. We sent for a replacement for the corked wine and it proved to be stunning. And, it was Amy’s. Moral of the story: always ask for a new bottle if you’re the least bit suspicious something isn’t right.
Once again, V. Sattui had the Wine of the Year, this time for V. Sattui Winery 2015 Paradiso Napa Valley $90.00, which was awarded 97 points. For the last two years, they’ve taken this award for their Morisoli Vineyard Cabernet.
A first time Platinum winner, who also took the Director’s Award for Best Pinot Noir,was our own Mark Hoover of Integrity Wines in Watsonville, with a remarkable 95 point score for the Integrity Wines 2017 Pinot Noir Santa Lucia Highlands, which at just $36.00, is a stone bargain. Get on this dance card, folks. He makes great wines.
Other local talent claiming Best of awards was Scheid for Stoke’s Ghost, which scored Best Petite Sirah.
Best Sauvignon Blanc was a three-way tie between three really worthy contenders. It’s all a matter of style. Do you prefer pineapple to grassiness and grapefruit? Since they’re all very affordable, get all three and decide for yourself:
J. Lohr Estates 2018 Flume Crossing Sauvigon Blanc Arroyo Seco $14.00, 94 points
Duck Hunter Wines 2018 Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough $19.99, 94 points
Whitehaven 2018 Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough $20.00, 94 points
Best Syrah went to Eberle, for the Eberle 2017 Syrah Paso Robles Steinbeck Vineyard $28.00, 95 points. Gary Eberle is celebrating his 40thanniversary in the wine business this year. Wow!
Best Tempranillo went to Trella Vineyards 2016 Tempranillo Umpqua Valley $38.00, 94 points. Umpqua made a great showing again this year, with Reustle Prayer Rock taking Best Gruner Veltliner for the 2017 Hefeabzug Gruner Veltliner, Estate, $24, 95 points.
Although we have some awesome Chardonnay in these parts, judges must like Napa’s touch, as Best Chardonnay went to V. Sattui Winery 2017 Collina d’Oro Chardonnay, Russian River Valley, $42.99.
Kudos go to Bargetto for raking in Platinum for their Bargetto 2017 Pinot Noir Monterey County $20.00, 94 points. That’s value! They scored Silver for the Bargetto 2017 Chardonnay Monterey County $16.00.
From Santa Clara County, Fortino scored Platinum and Best Charbono for their 2016 Estate Charbono $44, 95 points.
As usual, the winemaking team at J Lohr knows how to find medals:
J. Lohr Estates 2018 Flume Crossing Sauvigon Blanc Arroyo Seco $14.00 Platinum 94 – tied for Best Sauvignon Blanc
J. Lohr Estates 2017 Riverstone Chardonnay Arroyo Seco $14.00 Silver
J. Lohr Estates 2017 Wildflower Valdiguie Monterey $10.00 Silver
J. Lohr Estates 2017 Falcon’s Perch Pinot Noir Monterey County $17.00 Silver
J. Lohr Vineyard Series 2017 October Night Chardonnay Arroyo Seco $25.00 Platinum 94
J. Lohr Vineyard Series 2016 Fog’s Reach Pinot Noir Arroyo Seco $35.00 Silver
This year’s judges had the pleasure of tasting somewhere in the vicinity of 120 wines each (out of roughly 740 wines submitted) at this year’s competition, directed by Rich Cook, and held at the Salinas County Fairgrounds in King City. The evening before the judging, we were treated to an outstanding dinner hosted by Scheid, at their beautiful event space in Greenfield. Scott Scheid addressed the group, which came from far and wide, sharing his family’s story of how they got into the grape business. And more recently, how they found themselves up to their eyeballs in the wine business.
Scott told me that their Hive & Honey brand, a slightly sweet take on Riesling, is just killing it in the Kroger stores, while District 7 and Metz Road are doing amazingly at stores like Safeway. They also have brands on Aldi store shelves, and at one point, executed brands for Trader Joe’s. Their “micro winery,” in the capable hands of Marta Kraftek and Dave Nagengast, continue to turn out some excellent products, including the following Monterey Wine Competition winners:
Ghost Hull 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon San Lucas Vineyard, $42.99 Platinum 96
Stokes’ Ghost 2016 Petite Sirah Monterey Estate Grown $34.00 Platinum 95
Scheid Vineyards 2012 Reserve Claret Monterey Estate Grown $72.00 Gold 93
Scheid Vineyards 2017 Pinot Noir Monterey Estate Grown $36.00 Gold 91
Scheid Vineyards 2016 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon Monterey Estate Grown $36.00 Gold 90
Scheid Vineyards 2017 Grenache Blanc Monterey Estate Grown, San Lucas Vineyard $22.00 Silver
Scheid also scored Gold for the 2016 District 7 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon, $20, and Silvers for the District 7 2016 Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.
Among other local winners were: Gali Vineyards 2016 Pinot Noir Santa Cruz Mountains Estate Grown $40.00, Silver; Maison Areion 2017 Chardonnay Santa Cruz Mountains $27.00, Silver; Marin’s Vineyard 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon Monterey County $32.00, Silver; Scott Family Estate 2016 Pinot Noir Arroyo Seco Dijon Clone $25.00, Silver;Scott Family Estate 2017 Chardonnay Arroyo Seco Dijon Clone $20.00, Silver; Wargin Wines 2017 Freisa San Benito Circle S Vineyards $26.00, Silver; and Wargin Wines 2016 Négrette San Benito Circle S Vineyard $30.00, Silver.
It’s also gratifying to see recognition for the local vineyards in the form of wines made outside the region. Case in point is Furthermore, who scored Gold for the Furthermore 2015 Pinot Noir Santa Lucia Highlands, Sierra Mar Vineyard, $50.00 Gold, 92 points. They also took Gold for the Furthermore 2015 Pinot Noir Santa Lucia Highlands Rosella’s Vineyard $50.00, Gold, 90 points.
Wente Vineyards, longtime growers in the Monterey region, scored Gold for their 2016 Arroyo Seco Pinot Noir, and Silver for the 2017 Riva Ranch Chardonnay.
Congratulations to all those who scored medals in this prestigious competition.
Director, Rich Cook, was very impressed with this year’s lineup. “At this year’s competition, I was struck again by the quality of the Platinum Award submissions from our judges – though we received fewer entries than last year, we awarded more 94 point and above scores than last year. Additionally, our Winery of the Year, Halter Ranch Winery from Paso Robles, entered six wines and walked away with five Platinum Awards and one Gold Award – I haven’t seen a performance like that in over twenty years of competitions. Stunning!”
A complete list of winners will be posted at: http://www.montereywinecompetition.com/
Laura Ness is a longtime wine journalist, columnist and judge who contributes regularly to Edible Monterey Bay, Spirited, WineOh.Tv, Los Gatos Magazine and Wine Industry Network, and a variety of consumer publications. Her passion is telling stories about the intriguing characters who inhabit the fascinating world of wine and food.