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Posted by Robert Whitley on June 22, 2016 at 8:00 AM

Texas Winery Shinnes at San Diego Challenge

 A number of eye-popping performances were put on at the 2016 San Diego Wine Challenge.

Italy's Castello Banfi served an impressive Super Tuscan and a sensational Brunello from a so-so vintage.

Australia's Mr. Riggs did what Aussie wineries often do: It dominated with delicious wines at price points typically reserved for second-tier wines.

V. Sattui Winery of Napa Valley soared as usual, and neighboring Imagery Estate — just over the Mayacamas Mountains in Sonoma County — was the life of the platinum-award party.

But the greatest performance of all was given by a winery from Texas Hill Country, due west of Austin, Texas. Grape Creek Vineyards of Fredericksburg, Texas, entered 18 wines and bagged 14 medals, including one platinum (the top award) and four gold.

What made the Grape Creek performance especially noteworthy was the relative obscurity of a wine from the Texas wine industry appearing outside of Texas. It is somewhat rare to see a Texas wine entered in a major international wine competition, and most unusual to see so many entries from one Texas winery.

Grape Creek's platinum award went to a 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon/Syrah that retails for $37. This wine was released with the generic "American" appellation, suggesting it is composed of a blend of grapes — some from Texas and some from another part of the country — which seems to be the Grape Creek model.

That being said, Grape Creek's list of medals is a reflection of some serious know-how in the winery cellar.

Speaking of know-how, Jen Wall, winemaker of the value brand Barefoot Wine & Bubbly, did her usual number, winning 10 medals for Barefoot Bubbly and 10 medals for Barefoot Cellars. The most expensive Barefoot wine retails for $9.99, but the modest price hardly suggests mediocrity. There were nine gold medals and one platinum in Barefoot's 20-medal haul.

Banfi Wines took home four medals — two platinum, two gold — for its Montalcino estate, including the 2011 ExcelsuS ($90), which was one of the three best wines I, as director and overseer of the Best of Class and Best of Show awards, tasted over the course of the competition. Banfi's other division, which includes the Chianti and Piedmont regions, bagged five medals, including one platinum and two gold.

For a complete list of competition awards, including the Best of Show and Best of Class, visit www.SanDiegoWineChallenge.com.

Kenwood, Sonoma Mountain (Sonoma County, California) Cabernet Sauvignon Jack London Vineyard 2013 ($35)
The Jack London Vineyard Cabernet is famed for its rustic style and mountain tannins, and this vintage delivers as expected, with bold black cherry, cassis and mint flavors and aromas, and a touch of baker's chocolate adding interest.  It's a chewy glass, so pair it with something with a bit of fat content to help manage the structure.  I would call this a California legacy wine after its long track record.
93 Rich Cook

Dr. Michael
This Issue's Reviews
California Wine's Best Kept Secret
Robert Whitley

The South Coast Winery in Temecula recently pulled off a feat no other California winery can claim, winning its fourth Golden Bear Trophy at the California State Fair earlier this month. The trophy is awarded to the California winery of the year, chosen from the hundreds that enter the state fair's annual wine competition. Considering more than half the wine consumed in the United States is produced in California, the trophy represents a significant accomplishment. That one small winery situated in the unheralded Temecula Valley, 60 miles north of San Diego, has captured the title four times against stiff competition speaks volumes about the winemakers,Jon McPherson and Javier Flores.
The Mysterious Methods of Science in the Vineyard
Wayne Belding

When wine sellers tell the stories behind the wines they present, they frequently wax poetic about the soil from which the grapes are drawn. Statements about wines being grown, variously, on limestone, granite, sandstone, clay, alluvium, colluvium, volcanic rock and on and on are made with great emphasis and certitude that they mean something - something really important. Generally, when you question further, you don't find a scientific reason why the touted soil type is meaningful, just that it is different. A host of questions then besets the curious mind regarding the reasons that might underlie the long-standing axiomatic superiority of the noted soil type. This is the way wine is spoken about and sold in many establishments that sell the bottles.
Wine With
WINE WITH…Korean Kimchi Fried Rice

Kimchi fried rice is one of the world's great comfort foods, the Korean version of America's mac and cheese perhaps. But you certainly don't have to be Korean to appreciate this tasty and soothing dish, which is said to be wildly popular there, and is becoming ever more so in the US as well. One advantage of the dish is that it can be made from leftovers, especially if you happen to have a jar of kimchi in the fridge--which we often do. We became addicted to this staple of Korean cuisine when our former neighbor, John, used to give us a batch of homemade kimchi every few weeks (one of our favorite ways to use it was on hot dogs--forget catsup and relish). Now that John has moved to New Jersey we're without a homemade source of the condiment, but have discovered that the commercial version is usually pretty good too.
On My Table
Still Classy After All These Years
Mary Ewing-Mulligan

The first case of wine that I ever purchased was a Monsanto Chianti Classico Riserva, specifically the 1971 Il Poggio vineyard, from what was at the time a fairly new Tuscan estate. In wine terms, I suppose that's like a first kiss: Even as other flames come and go, you remain forever linked to that wine that elicited your first full-case commitment. With the release of the 2012 Chianti Classico Riserva, Monsanto is now celebrating half a century of grape growing and wine production. Luckily for me, my old flame continues to impress me.