More than 140 wine lovers congregated at the home of Palate Press publisher, David Honig, for the Eighth Annual Palate Press Grand Tasting.
The Palate Press Grand Tasting is a unique consumer-driven wine tasting event. More than three hundred wines were blind bagged and placed on tables throughout the house. Wines were labeled with varietal or style (e.g. “Bordeaux Blend”) and numbered. Guests were free to taste whatever caught their fancy and to drink whatever they liked.
We watched for consumer preferences in a couple of different ways. We listened for buzz, for people saying, “hey, try number 127, it’s great.” We watched to see which bottles were emptied fastest, as people found something they liked and cuddled. And we made notes whenever people asked about particular wines – “can you tell me what 209 was because I’d really like to buy some?”
Food and service were provided by Jacquie’s Gourmet Catering, which provided a varied menu to allow pairing with all the different wines. The menu included:
- Mini Ahi Tuna Tacos with Avocado and Jalapenos
- Bourbon Chicken Skewers
- Filet Mignon with Horseradish Cream on Toasted Baguette with Carmelized Onions and Fresh Rosemary
- Wild Mushroom Turnovers
- Fig and Gorgonzola Crostini with Caramelized onion
- Peking Duck Roll-ups with Michigan Cherries
Guests tasted wines from around the world. Countries represented included Argentina, Australia, Chile, the US, France, Germany, Italy, New Zealand, Portugal, South Africa, and Spain. US wines came from California, Oregon, Washington, Virginia, New York, Idaho, and Michigan. Wines came from the cellar, from winery entries, and from wines selected to round out the Tasting.
There were grand cru and premier cru wines, Napa Valley nobility, and small lot garagiste projects. Prices ranged from a few dollars to a few hundred. Guests tasted the wines for what was in the bottle, not what was on the label.
After the first night of the Palate Press Grand Tasting, we identified the wines the guests loved the most and submitted them to a tasting panel to pick our winners. There were lots of terrific wines, and tasting notes will be published over the next few months.
The surprise of the night was a group of white wines from Brengman Brothers, a winery on the Leelanua Peninsula in Michigan.
The 2016 Brengman Brothers “Gary’s Reserve” Gewüztraminer was empty early in the evening. For the second tasting, the judges gave it a very respectable 88 points, noting its floral aromas, complex blend of sweet lemon, poached pears, and white pepper, and a lingering pear finish. One of the crowd favorites and one of the earliest wines to hit the bottom of the bottle was the 2016 Brengman Brothers Riesling Beerenauslese, a true Botrytis wine. It offered honey-sweetened baked apples in a full-bodied dessert wine with balancing hints of lemon, in a 90 point wine.
DOUBLE GOLD MEDAL WINES
One of the highest-scoring wines of the night was Ridge’s Monte Bello red blend. The 2014 Ridge Monte Bello, a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petit Verdot, and Cabernet Franc, got a nearly-perfect 98 point rating from the judges, who raved about the rich black fruits, the powerful anchor offered by the Petit Verdot, and the soaring Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc.
GOLD MEDAL WINES for the Palate Press Grand Wine Tasting
Double Gold Medals
- 2013 “Hillside Select” Cabernet Sauvignon
- 2014 Ridge Monte Bello – 98 points
- 2012 Miner “Wild Yeast” Chardonnay – 96 points
- 2014 Dutton Goldfeld Rued Vineyard Chardonnay – 95 points
- 2013 Eighty-Four Malbec – 95 points
- 2014 Shafer Merlot – 95 points
- 2014 Shafer Relentless – 95 points
- 2013 Sullivan Vineyards Coeur de Vigne – 95 points
- 2013 BenMarco Expresivo – 94 points
- 2013 Ridge “Lytton Estate” Petite Sirah – 94 points
- 2013 Luca Malbec – 93 points
- 2013 Rodney Strong “Symmetry” – 93 points
- 2015 Troon Vineyard G*S*M – 92 points
- 2015 Donnafugata Sherezade – 92 points
- 2016 Martin Ray Sauvignon Blanc – 92 points
- 2015 Ridge Estate Chardonnay – 92 points
- 2014 Troon Vineyard Zinfandel – 91 points
- 2016 Troon Vineyard Cuvee Rolle – 91 points
- 2014 Curlew Vineyards Chardonnay – 91 points
- 2013 Martin Ray “Synthesis” Cabernet Sauvignon – 91 points
- 2013 Roco Chardonnay – 91 points
- 2013 Roco “Wit’s End Vineyard” Pinot Noir – 91 points
- 2016 Brengman Brothers Riesling Beerenauslese – 90 points
- 2008 Carlos Serres Gran Reserva – 90 points
- 2011 Carlos Serres Reserva – 90 points
- 2016 Troon Vineyard Vermentino – 90 points
- Locations F5 – 89 points
- 2015 Potter’s Vineyard “Vino Vasai” Pinot Noir – 89 points
- 2016 Brengman Brothers “Gary’s Reserve” Gewüztraminer – 88 points
Interested in learning more about the wines we’ve reviewed recently? Read Palate Press’ Latest Reviews >>