March 30, 2021 – The wonderfully juicy debut of the 2017 Thomas T. Thomas Pinot Noir from Anderson Valley may have taken Best Red of Show, Best of Show and Wine of the Year overall at the 2021 Monterey Wine Competition held in King City in early March, but that didn’t stop the 2016 DeTierra Syrah from winning Platinum (95 points) and besting all other Monterey area winery entries. Competition Director, Rich Cook, said there were more entries in this year’s competition than last, increasing the competitive field.
DeTierra Co-owner Alix Bosch told us, “We’re thrilled to have this honor! This wine, which has won multiple platinum awards, is confirmation that Monterey County is an exceptional region for this varietal!”
She notes that Syrah is an underappreciated grape in Monterey County, but has always been one of their personal favorites. “This wine truly represents what we are trying to accomplish at De Tierra Vineyards by producing very high quality yet approachable wines from the unique terroir of Monterey County.” Bosch says they’ve been sourcing from the same two vineyards for many years.
The DeTierra Syrah wasn’t their only Platinum award at this competition: their 2009 Ekem Late Harvest Riesling from Monterey, scored Platinum and 94 points. DeTierra also scored Silver medals for their 2017 Russell Estate Merlot and 2019 Russell Estate Rosé. Well done! It was amazing to see so many Syrah’s showing up on the Platinum table this year, along with the usual Cabs and Pinots. Sometimes, there is nothing like a Syrah.
Other top winners at this year’s competition included V. Sattui Winery taking Winery of the Year (again) with 11 Platinums and 10 Golds. Best of Show Sparkling honors went to Breathless for their non-vintage Blanc de Blancs and Best of Show Rosé was a split decision between the SEAGLASS 2019 Rosé from Monterey County and the 2020 Oak Farm Vineyards Rosé from Silvaspoons Vineyards in Lodi. Best of Show White Wine went to the Grape Creek Vineyards 2020 Pinot Grigio from Texas and the McBride Sisters Collection 2020 Sauvignon Blanc from Marlborough, New Zealand. Best of Show Dessert Wine went to Navarro Vineyards for their 2019 Riesling Late Harvest, Cluster Select from Anderson Valley.
Let’s take a look out how our local wineries fared.
Bargetto Winery scored Gold (92) for the 2019 Monterey County Chardonnay, and Silver for the 2019 Monterey County Pinot Grigio.
Cinnabar scored Gold (93) for the 2019 Monterey Chardonnay, Gold (90) for the 2018 Santa Cruz Mountains Pinot Noir and Gold (90) for the 2019 Rosé, California.
Cru Winery showed off a Platinum (94) for the most excellent 2018 Sierra Madre Vineyard Pinot Noir from Santa Maria Valley and a Gold (92) for the 2018
Sierra Madre Vineyard Chardonnay, Gold (90) for the 2019 Edna Valley Albariño,
Gold (90) for the 2018 Arroyo Seco Chardonnay, Gold (90) for the 2017 Pinot Noir
Vineyard Montage from the Santa Lucia Highlands, Gold (90) for the 2019 Jose’s Rosé from the Central Coast and Silver for the 2018 Monterey County Pinot Noir.
(Winemaker Jose Reyes got his start in the wine business at Bargetto over 30 years ago.)
Eberle showed off Gold’s for nearly every entry, including 2020 Estate Muscat Canelli (92), 2018 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon (91), 2018 Steinbeck vineyard Syrah (91), 2018 Cotes-du-Robles (90), and 2019 Cotes-du-Robles Blanc (90).
Under the Scheid umbrella, the 2020 Grandeur Rosé from White Flower Vineyard, Estate in Monterey, took Gold and 92 points.
J. Lohr Estates hauled in Gold (93) for the 2020 Flume Crossing Sauvignon Blanc from Arroyo Seco, Gold (91) for the 2019 Falcon’s Perch Pinot Noir, and Silvers for the 2019 Riverstone Chardonnay and 2019 Wildflower Valdiguie, both from Arroyo Seco.
Lightpost Winery, with Christian Rogeunant as winemaker, once again showed up big time on the awards table with three Platinum medals, this time for the 2019 Pinot Noir Reserve from Spanish Springs Vineyard in San Luis Obispo County (95), the 2019 Pinot Noir Reserve from Ferrari Vineyards, Santa Cruz Mountains (94) and the 2018 Mila Grenache Reserve, San Luis Obispo County (94). They hauled in Gold (92) for the 2018 “Sevastien” Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve, Santa Cruz Mountains, Gold (91) for the 2018 “Ignition” Reserve from San Luis Obispo, Gold (91) for 2018
2018 Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve from Paso Robles that won Best Red at the 2021 SF Chronicle Competition, Gold (91) for the 2018 Alexander Reserve from Paso Robles, Gold (90) for the 2018 Paso Robles Cabernet, and Gold (90) for the 2019
Rosé of Pinot Noir Reserve from Edna Valley. Lightpost also garnered several Silvers, including one for the 2019 Pinot Noir Reserve from Saveria Vineyards, Santa Cruz Mountains.
Neely Wine saw Silver for the 2018 Estate Holly’s Cuvée Estate Chardonnay, the 2018 Picnic Block Estate Pinot Noir and the 2018 Hidden Block Pinot Noir, all from Spring Ridge Vineyard in the Santa Cruz Mountains.
Perrucci Family Vineyard once again scored Gold (92) for their excellent Merlot from the Regan Vineyard in the Santa Cruz Mountains, as well as Gold (90) for their
2017 Malbec, Santa Cruz Mountains.
Ranch 32, a Scheid brand, scored Gold (90) for the 2019 Estate Grown Pinot Noir from Arroyo Seco, Silver for the 2019 Estate Grown Cabernet Sauvignon from Hames Valley Vineyard/San Lucas Vineyard and Silver for the 2019 Estate Grown Chardonnay from Arroyo Seco.
Scheid Vineyards scored Gold (91) for their 2019 Estate Grenache Blanc
from San Lucas Vineyard and the 2019 Estate Monterey Pinot Noir. The 2019
Barbera from Hames Valley Vineyard scored Silver, as did the 2018 Odd Lot Red, the 2019 Dry Riesling from Mesa del Rio Vineyard in Monterey, and the 2020 Estate Pinot Noir Rosé from Monterey.
Talbott brought home Gold (91) for the 2018 Sleepy Hollow Vineyard Estate Pinot Noir, Santa Lucia Highlands and Silver for the 2018 Kali Hart Estate Pinot Noir, Monterey.
Congratulations to all those who entered and were rewarded.
Eden Rift Named Hot Brand by Wine Business Monthly
Each year, one of the most esteemed wine trade journals in this industry, chooses 20 Hot Brands to watch. Among them for 2021 is Eden Rift, a 120-acre vineyard estate originally planted during the Gold Rush, in 1849, in San Benito. Such a distinction bestows ample recognition for a job well done already, and a vote of confidence for the promise of a potentially bright future. As with everything, time tells all. Some of the previous Hot Brands from our region include Talbott (2011), McIntyre Vineyards (2014), Cambiata (2009) and Marilyn Remark (2008).
We’re convinced this was a good call. Not only have winemaker Cory Waller and owner Christian Pillsbury turned out some impressive wines from this storied property that was most recently known as Pietra Santa prior to 2016, but they are slowly tuning their viticulture practices, with assistance from vineyard manager, Sandy Matthews, to better reveal the true potential of this stunning spot.
Waller is particularly keen to make both the Terraces Chardonnay and Pinot Gris the pinnacle expression of the vineyard. It’s the only terraced Pinot Gris in the Central Coast to be sure, and it may be the only such in the state. He’s careful not to overoak the wines as they seem to really “suck it up.” The 2018 Terraces Chardonnay pretty much screams vibrant acidity and tropical fruit, and while enjoyable now is definitely worth cellaring, and the 2018 Pinot Gris has merely written a cryptic foreword to the novel it will eventually scribe. Eden Rift’s Pinot Noirs, derived from clones similar to those planted at nearby Calera, where Cory once worked with Josh Jensen (his brother Mike, is head winemaker there now), range from delicate and approachable to dark and sinewy, depending on which part of the vineyard they originate.
The 2018 Palmtag Pinot Noir, from Mount Eden clones (from Burgundian budwood suitcased by Paul Masson) planted on the lowest of the Terraces in 1989, is a rose garden of aromatic delight, with bright red fruits on the nose and palate, along with a breezy hint of orange marmalade. A thoroughly charming wine right now.
In contrast, the 2018 Eden Rift Lansdale Pinot Noir, from the Q block, which is planted to the Calera clone, originally sourced from Le Tache in Burgundy, is big and bold, bordering on brutish, with blueberry, sage, tomato leaf and tarragon on the nose. The palate broods like a dark Scottish sky, revealing blueberry, cedar, allspice and nascent power. This one is tight and firm of tannin: built for long-term aging. Owner Christian Pillsbury says that it was this south-facing block that caught his eye and pulled at his heartstrings when he visited the site that first day. “It’s utterly breathtaking! This is where history can be made. I knew this is where I was going to spend my days.”