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Local wines double their WOW medals

The judges really liked Southern Oregon wines.

As part of the eighth annual World of Wine Festival, a four-member panel of experts from outside the region tasted 158 wines made from local grapes. Nearly half won medals — 10 gold and 62 silver — in addition to three "best-of-show" awards. That compares with just 31 medals last year.

Daisy Creek, Quady North and Cliff Creek took best-of-show honors. Brandborg was the only winery to win two gold medals. Five wineries earned four medals each: Crater Lake Cellars, Misty Oaks, Plaisance Ranch, RoxyAnn and Schmidt Family Vineyards. Winning three medals each were Abacela, Bridgeview, Carpenter Hill, Del Rio and Slagle Creek.

And something different this year was the participation of 12 new wineries, seven of which earned silver medals.

Judging, held in mid-August, was a prelude to the Aug. 28 main event at Del Rio Vineyards & Winery near Gold Hill. It was a festive evening of wine, food, silent auction and entertainment. With more than 50 wineries pouring multiple wines, one had to be selective. I focused on the top medalists.

  • Daisy Creek 2009 Triple Play ($18), best-of-show white, is an elegant blend of roussanne, marsanne and viognier. I'd tasted it earlier in the summer and was not surprised that it won.
  • Quady North 2008 Cabernet Franc ($35), best-of-show red, seemed distinctive, earthy and tangy.
  • Cliff Creek 2008 Tribute ($34) earned best-of-show honors among dessert wines, a new category this year. It's made of syrah plus a little brandy. I found it certainly different — not overpoweringly sweet.

Next were the other 10 gold medalists: Abacela 2008 Garnacha ($22), a delicious, different red; Brandborg 2008 Riesling ($16), pleasantly dry; Brandborg 2007 Pinot Noir ($30), another good one from the Elkton winery; Crater Lake 2009 Viognier ($15), fruity yet subtle; Del Rio 2008 Reserve Petite Sirah ($48), rich and delicious; Misty Oaks 2008 Viper Trail Malbec ($30), pleasingly lighter than many; Pebblestone 2009 Viognier ($19), full of flavor; RoxyAnn 2007 Tempranillo ($30), rich and flavorful; Troon 2008 Reserve Zinfandel ($60), expensive but special; and Velocity 2006 Malbec ($25), yet another notable red.

One of the newcomers was Hellgate Cellars of Grants Pass. Its 2008 Pinot Blanc ($15) and 2008 Gewurztraminer ($13) both won silver awards. These are two varietals not made by a lot of local wineries and both are of high quality. I preferred the gewurztraminer.

Another wine of interest was Vino Da Tavola (under $25), an earthy house red made by Rosella's for Pomodori Ristorante of Medford. It blends cabernet sauvignon, merlot and malbec.

The judges this year were:

  • Joel Butler, president for the Institute of Masters of Wine (North America).
  • Patrick Comiskey, a senior editor for Wine & Spirits magazine.
  • Patrick Farrell, one of 25 Masters of Wine (North America).
  • Bob Paulinksi, former head of Sam's Wine Club and currently wine buyer for Winn-Dixie Stores.

For the full list of all 75 medal winners, see www.worldofwinefestival.com.

ANDY PHILLIPS OF THE Winchester Inn Wine Bar has launched a part-time business offering special winery tours and events. The next one is a dinner pairing wine and small plates Monday, Sept. 27, at Pebblestone Cellars of Phoenix in conjunction with the opening of its new tasting room. Grower Dick Ellis will conduct a vineyard tour. Guest chef Travis Wyant will prepare the meal paired with Pebblestone wines.

The event will run from 6 to 9:30 p.m. at the winery, 1642 Camp Baker Road. Cost is $65. Call 541-512-1704.

ALSO SAMPLED RECENTLY:

  • Columbia Crest 2006 Merlot-Cabernet. You see this Washington red in local supermarkets, often on sale for as little as $5.58. It's a good buy at that price, a smooth, earthy wine.
  • Ravenswood 2008 Vintners Blend Petite Sirah ($10). Talk about a wine that improves after opening! This one seemed just average at first but got better over a period of four days. By day four it was a really fine wine with rich flavor.

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