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Sixth Annual Idaho Wine Competition


The results for the All Idaho Wine Competition held on Saturday, April 18, are in. The Treasure Valley Wine Society did an incredible job hosting the event, pouring 102 different wines for the seven judges. Robin Young assembled the panel of tasters, which included three wine writers (Brooks Tish, Washington; Thomas Pellicia, New York; and Garry Scholz, Boise), two distributors (Scott Sprague, Idaho Wine Merchants, and Greg Barnes, J.R. Premier wines) and two from our regular Boise Weekly panel (Cindy Limber from Bardenay and myself). We didn't always agree, but as with our biweekly tastings, we reached a consensus. While not every top winery was represented (Fraser and Snake River to name two), you should seek out the wines that received gold and silver medals—they are among the best in the Northwest.

Three wineries, one old, two new, did particularly well. Idaho veteran Greg Koenig was no surprise as both he and other wineries he works with pulled in a lot of gold. His 2006 Koenig cabernet sauvignon, Bitner Vineyard, topped an otherwise disappointing lineup, although I felt the 2005 Williamson Vineyard was also worthy (Greg Koenig makes that wine as well). Gold also went to the 2004 Cuvee Alden Private Reserve, a Bordeaux blend that showed remarkable elegance and great length. Topping the flight of syrahs and scoring one of only five double golds, was his 2006 Syrah Three Vineyard Cuvee, a lovely, fruit-forward wine loaded with charming cherry and berry flavors.

The new kids on the block, Davis Creek Cellars and Vale Wine Company, had an equally impressive showing. Both of Vale's wines, the 2008 Dry Riesling and 2008 chardonnay, took home gold—it's no secret that I'm a big fan of theirs. And this blind tasting also confirmed what I'd been thinking about Davis Creek. I was very impressed with the two reds I tried at Beaux Arts Societe Wine Festival. This time around, they scored a gold for an excellent 2007 tempranillo and double gold for their 2007 malbec, which one very experienced panelist called the best he had tasted in recent memory.

Two of the stronger categories were dry Riesling and rose. In addition to Vale, the 2008 Cold Springs Winery riesling garnered gold and the 2008 Holesinky Riesling took home a very strong silver. All three were among my higher scoring wines. In rose, Holesinky stepped it up a couple of notches grabbing a double gold for their 2008 rose. Cinder and Davis Creek were awarded silver—excellent wines, fresh, floral with undeniable charm.

The two other double gold winners were white. The 2008 Sawtooth pinot gris, lean and lovely with crisp citrus and exceptional balance, stood head and shoulders above the competition. But my top scoring white wine was a 2008 viognier, a grape that has a bright future in Idaho. Another Greg Koenig wine, he crafts this one for 3 Horse Ranch. It offered beautiful honeysuckle and peach aromas with a touch of clover on the nose. On the palate, it had excellent balance between sweet, ripe melon and crisp, refreshing citrus—just a great example of the variety. Congratulations to all the winners.