Eighteen judges swirled, sniffed, sip and spit 708 wines to find the best of the best in the 2018 Central Coast Wine Competition. The judges have spoken, and Alara Cellars 2017 Grenache Blanc from California’s Santa Clara Valley took Best of Show top honors, along with Best in Class in the Grenache Blanc category and overall Best White Wine.
This is the first time a Grenache Blanc wine has risen to the top of all competitors. Full disclosure, I was one of the judges. We tasted blind, meaning we only knew the grape variety, but we didn’t know the exact vintage, price or where the grapes were grown. Judges were on four-person panels and the wines were divided up among us to judge. No, we didn’t try all 708 wines which, by the way, was a record number of entries for the 16th annual wine competition.The Grenache Blanc was not on my panel, but we all tasted it during the sweepstakes round. My tasting notes are beautiful orange blossom and citrus aromas, followed by mouthwatering citrus, lychee and melon flavors with a long, lingering herbal finish. It’s a wine that keeps you coming back for another sip.
Interestingly, winemaker Janu Goelz launched her label Alara Cellars this past fall. This is her debut Grenache Blanc and this was also the first competition Goelz entered it in. Talk about beginners luck! I love the flirty label by fashion designer Malene Grotrian. All Alara labels have a different dress design and color. You can taste Alara wines at The Stomping Ground in Gilroy, Calif., a wine destination with multiple winery tasting rooms.
Here are the competition’s other award winners:
• Best Red Wine: Cass Vineyard & Winery 2016 Mourvedre
• Best Pink Wine: Opolo Vineyards 2017 Rosé
• Best Sparkllng Wine: Laetitia Vineyard & Winery 2015 Brut Rosé
• Best Dessert Wine: Glunz Family Winery Angelica (made with Mission grapes)
You can see the complete list of all winners here.