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EatBeat: American Fine Wine Competition 2010 – Ferrante’s White and Turnbull Cellars Win BoS

February 6th, 2010 · 2 Comments

A fun wine read comes from Mark Gauert, my editor at City and Shore magazine in Fort Lauderdale. He writes about the American Fine Wine Competition, held at Lincoln Culinary Institute in West Palm Beach in mid-January. Gauert tells of marrying into a French winemaking family, yet finding American wines that rival his new family’s creations. How to work with that?

Read his story, published in this month’s issue of City and Shore, here. (Click around on the site to discover my story on Sunday brunches.)

3rd Year of Event brings more than 500 wines

During the two-day event, a panel of well known wine experts – sommeliers, wine writers and others – sipped their way through more than 500 entries in 10 categories.  Top prizes included two Best of Show medals – red, and white – and eight  Best of Class awards.  Thirty-one Double-Gold medals were awarded to those wines that received unanimous votes from the judges’ panel.

Surprise results from a Midwest wine

The winner of  Best of Show, whites category, was a 2008 Ferrante Winery Estate Bottled Pinot Grigio from (drumroll….) Geneva, OHIO!

This winery’s been in business since 1937, and the family-run vineyard and winery, on the south side of Lake Erie off I-90,  produces mostly whites, with a Cabernet Franc thrown in, according to winemaker Nicolas Ferrante.

The down-to-earth Ohioan said his grandfather began the winery, but he’s not quite sure how he got into it. “I think they probably just continued their grape-growing and wine-making from Italy,” he said.

Small-scale production

He produces only 2000 cases of the wine, but said the win, while bringing some prestige and credibility to his winery, won’t go to his head. “Maybe we can get some interest in distribution in Florida now, I don’t know,” he said.

He’s been making estate-bottled wines only five years, and his first harvest of pinot gris grapes were in 2006. He’s now expanding some, with new plantings of Pinot Noir and Gruner Veltliner.

Location, location – and terroir

“Our climate is best for whites,” Ferrante said. “The Grand River Valley is a perfect microclimate.”

The river is a quarter-mile away, and Lake Erie is nearby. The clay loam gives plenty of terroir to the fruit.

As for problems, they’re mostly to do with drainage, and the extreme weather Ohio sometimes sees. “We don’t have the insect problems they do in California, but it got down to -16 last January (’09),” he said. “They don’t have to deal with that in California.”

Nonetheless, he perseveres and produces award winners, like the dry Riesling that’s taken several gold medals over the years.

Turnbull wines

Turnbull Cellars Best Red

Judged Best of Show, red, was a 2007 Turnbull Cellars Cabernet Franc, from Oakville, Ca. This winery’s produced a number of reds since its inception in 1979, known then as Johnson Turnbull Vineyards.

Best of class winners

Wines that took Best of Class included:

  • Cabernet Sauvignon: 2006 Mi Sueno, Napa Valley, Ca.
  • Chardonnay: 2007 Castello di Amorosa, Bien Nacido, Ca.
  • Pinot Noir: 2008 Frank Family Vineyards Reserve, Napa Valley, Ca.
  • Zinfandel: 2007 Ravenswood Winery Teldeschi, Dry Creek Valley, Ca.
  • Other Red Blend: 2006 PureCos Red, Napa Valley, Ca.
  • Meritage Style Blend: 2006 Sea Biscuit Ranch Superfecta, Redwood Valley, Ca.
  • Sparkling: 2003 Domaine Carneros Le Reve, Los Carneros, Ca.
  • Late Harvest: 2008 Bouchaine Vineyards Bouche D’Or, Los Carneros, Ca.

Taste the winning wines at March AFWC Gala

The contest itself leads up to the March 13 culinary gala, also at the Lincoln Culinary Institute, with the winning wines from the AFWC paired to great foods. To get tickets or for more information, click here.

[Editor’s Note: the original story was filed with the wrong date. March 13 is the correct date. Sorry for any inconvenience.]

Tags: Sips: Drinkables · The Eat Beat: Restaurant News · Today in the World of Food

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