The 2008 Syrah from RoxyAnn Winery of Medford received the top award at the annual Greatest of the Grape competition.

The 2008 Syrah from RoxyAnn Winery of Medford received the top award at the annual Greatest of the Grape competition.

The wine won platinum from a panel of professional judges. Four other wines received gold medals, and another five earned silver.

Greatest of the Grape, sponsored each March by the Umpqua Valley Winegrowers Association for the past four decades, also includes "people's choice" awards. A 2009 Pinot Noir Barrel Select by Girardet of Roseburg got the top prize in that category. Folks attending the festivities at Seven Feathers Casino Resort in Canyonville honored six other wines.

While this is a Douglas County event, the fact that it's held in Canyonville draws patrons and wineries from Jackson and Josephine counties. Judges were Bryan Brick, wine buyer with K&L Wine Merchants of California; Don Neel, publisher of the journal Practical Winery and Vineyard; and Randy Caparoso, a Lodi, Calif.-based wine professional.

Winning gold medals were Abacela (Roseburg) 2007 Tempranillo Estate, Cliff Creek (Sams Valley) 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon, Spangler (Winston) 2009 Malbec and Sienna Ridge (Oakland) 2008 Pinot Gris.

Silver medalists were Bradley (Elkton) 2008 Pinot Noir, Brandborg (Elkton) 2007 Love Puppets Pinot Noir, Melrose (Roseburg) 2007 Pinotage, MarshAnne Landing (Oakland) 2006 Syrah and Chateau Lorane (Lorane) 2009 Grenache.

Besides the honor given to Girardet, a people's choice award for best white wine went to Julianna Vineyards (Roseburg) 2009 Chenin Blanc, with Crater Lake Cellars (Shady Cove) 2009 Viognier as first runner-up.

Best red wine was a tie vote between HillCrest (Roseburg) 2007 "Gabor" Petite Syrah and Troon (Applegate Valley) 2008 Zinfandel. First runner-up was Abacela (Roseburg) 2007 Tempranillo Estate.

The Julianna chenin blanc also got a people's choice award for best wine and food pairing with tuna ceviche with smoky aioli by Feast of Florence. Foris (Cave Junction) 2008 Syrah Port was first runner-up paired with dark-chocolate panna cotta and port-cherry sauce by the Umpqua Community College Culinary Arts Program.

The platinum-winning RoxyAnn syrah was made from grapes grown at the winery's vineyards, harvested and processed under the direction of former winemaker Gus Janeway. Final barrel selection and blending was directed by current RoxyAnn winemaker John Quinones.

The wine retails for $30 and is available at the RoxyAnn tasting room, Harry & David Country Village, The Jacksonville Inn, Ashland Wine Cellar, Corks, Pacific Wine Club, Rogue Creamery and Elegance of Grants Pass. Restaurants serving it include Amuse, Red Rock, 38 Central, Larks and Bambu.

YOU MIGHT EXPECT TO go to Frau Kemmling Schoolhaus Brewhaus, the German restaurant in Jacksonville, for the beer. But the wine list is notable, too. Quite a few local labels are offered, among them Quady North, Valley View, Agate Ridge, Folin, Guerrero and Rocky Knoll, all from Jackson County, and Brandborg, HillCrest and Abacela from the Umpqua. Prices start at $4.50 by the glass, $18 by the bottle.

LA CREMA WINERY of Windsor, Calif. (Russian River Valley) has several new chardonnays and pinot noirs in release. Two of each were made with Sonoma coast fruit, the other two with grapes from Monterey coastal vineyards. The overall theme is that grapes ripen more slowly in cooler weather and develop more complex flavors.

Of the two chardonnays — 2009 Sonoma Coast and 2009 Monterey, each $20 — I prefer the Sonoma wine with its nice, tangy, lightly oaked flavor. The Monterey is luscious and creamy at first but seems a bit too creamy after a while.

It's the other way around with the pinot noirs — 2009 Monterey and 2009 Sonoma Coast, each $24. The Monterey product is a delicious, memorable wine with a hint of earthiness. The Sonoma wine — juicy and tangy — is almost as good. Both hold up well over several days.

ALSO SAMPLED RECENTLY:

Kendall-Jackson 2009 Avanti Chardonnay ($14). "Fresh, crisp, clean" reads the label on this new variety of chardonnay from the noted California winery. It offers a tangy, citrus flavor, quite strong at times, with a lengthy aftertaste. Bridgeview 2008 Cabernet-Merlot. The Cave Junction winery has been making this red blend for years. The 2008 release is quite nice and often priced below $7 at places such as Food 4 Less.

Cleve Twitchell is a retired Mail Tribune editor and columnist. E-mail him at clevelinda@msn.com.