When a gold medal for wine doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the best
on 09/03/11 at 10:10 amWine
The Virginia Wine Association last month awarded the 2011 Governor’s Cup for red wines to FoxMeadow Winery of Linden for its 2008 Le Renard Rouge, a 50-50 blend of cabernet franc and merlot.
Does that mean Le Renard Rouge is the best red wine produced in Virginia? No.
Of the state’s 190-plus wineries, only 60 entered the contest, putting up a total of 196 wines for judging. So the winner is no more the state’s best wine than Hickory the Scottish deerhound is the best dog in the world after winning the Westminster Kennel Club dog show.
But that’s not to detract from Hickory’s achievement, or Fox Meadow’s. In fact, Fox Meadow has won several medals since it began producing wine in 2005, including best of show at the 2007 Atlantic Seaboard Wine Competition for its 2005 cabernet franc. (Last year, the association split the contest into separate titles for red and white wines.)
Owners Dan and Cheryl Mortland and winemaker Tom Payette say they use competitions as a third-party validation of their efforts.
“It’s always possible to develop a ‘house palate,’ where you become enamored of your own wine,” Dan Mortland says. “To get a gold medal or best in category from a true competition – that’s good feedback on your work. It must be pretty good wine.”
In a typical competition, each wine is rated by a panel of four or five judges who might know the vintage and the blend, but never the identity of the wine. The panel members discuss each series of wines, argue for their favorites and award gold, silver and bronze medals according to the average of their scores. In my experience as a judge, it is rare for a panel to be unanimous about a gold medal.