Thursday, November 15, 2012

Medal Roll Call Continues!

I haven't been submitting wines to as many amateur competitions this year as I have in the past.  The entry fees and the cost of shipping keep going up every year, plus I've been growing disillusioned with amateur wine competitions in general.  Some competitions seem to be held simply as a fund raiser or advertising venue for the sponsors.  Also, the variability in judging results between competitions is sometimes downright laughable.  However, there are a couple of competitions that I do continue to respect:  the American Wine Society Amateur and the M&M Family of Wine Amateur Classic competitions.

I'm pleased to report that my wines fared well in the 2012 competitions.  I was present at the AWS Conference in Portland, OR this past week when the results were announced (more info later) and while I was away, the results of the M&M Classic arrived in my mail box.

2012 AWS Amateur Wine Competition:
Gold medal:    2010 Amador County Zinfandel
Silver medal:   2009 Suisun Valley Petite Sirah
Silver medal:   2010 Maple-Cider "Ice Wine"
Bronze medal: 2010 Yakima Valley Lemberger

2012 M&M Amateur Classic:
Silver medal:   2010 Yakima Valley Claret (70% Merlot/30% Cabernet Franc)
Silver medal:   2009 Suisun Valley Petite Sirah
Silver medal:   2009 Carm-ah (45% Carmenere/55% Syrah)
Bronze medal: 2010 Yakima Valley Merlot
Bronze medal: 2010 Yakima Valley Lemberger
Bronze medal: 2006 Columiba Gorge Chardonnay

Pretty good haul, which makes me a pleased winemaker.  I didn't submit the same wines to both competitions primarily because the AWS competition wanted 2 bottles of each wine and I wasn't about to ship 2 cases of wine.  However, I do find some of the comparisons interesting because both competitions use AWS certified judges and the same AWS 20-pt rating system.  Given those similarities, one should reasonably expect some similarity in results.  There was some concordance (2009 Petite Sirah continues to be consistently well received), but some notable differences:

1) AWS gave the 2010 Amador County Zinfandel a Gold medal while it was deemed weak and over-oaked by the M&M judges.  I'll agree that it's not your typical high alcohol over-jammy fruit bomb of a zinfandel, but more restrained.  M&M judges were apparently looking for fruit bombs!
2) Conversely, M&M gave a silver medal to the 2010 Yakima Valley Claret, while AWS pooh-poohed it.  Granted, I am a little over-invested in that wine since I crafted it specifically for my upcoming wedding.
3) AWS loved the 2010 Maple-Cider "Ice Wine" & awarded a silver medal, while the M&M judges really didn't like it one bit.  I do have to agree with that one--you either love it or hate it.

I didn't submit any of the other wines that won medals in the M&M Classic to the AWS Competition for lack of space in the shipping box.  Perhaps next year after they've aged a little longer.

So what's the lesson in all of this?  If your wine doesn't fare as well as you'd like in a competition--submit it somewhere else!  Sooner or later, you'll find a judge that loves it.


p.s.  An updated note--these wines were made prior to Aaronap Cellars transitioning to a licensed commercial winery in 2012 and thus still qualify for amateur status.  This will probably be the last amateur competitions that I enter.


JM said...

If you are a professional winemaker why are you entering amateur competitions?

MA Winemaker said...

JM, Aaronap Cellars made the transition from a home winery to a commercial winery in 2012. Up until now, all the wines that I've made have been for home consumption in a non-bonded facility and thus can only be entered in amateur competitions. Since the basement has been bonded as a commercial facility in 2012, future wines will qualify for commercial competitions.

Greg said...

I loved your maple ice wine. Did you add tartaric and what was the acid level? I'm also curious what yeast you used.

MA Winemaker said...

Greg, maple syrup is an amazingly neutral liquid. Had to double check the pH meter when it initially read pH=7. The apple cider contributed some acid, but I did add tartaric acid to bring the TA to about 9 g/L. R2 is my favorite yeast for a high brix must.