Mead On Wine

© 1997 JDM Enterprises
All Rights Reserved
Vol. I No. 29

How To Subscribe


by Jerry D. Mead

      The Orange County Fair Commercial Wine Competition
is still the largest (by far) all-California wine judging in the world. More
than 2200 wines were evaluated in 1997, by a panel of experts made up
exclusively of winemakers and/or winery proprietors.

The official Fair wine awards book has become the wine shopping bible of many California consumers, and I start getting letters months ahead of the annual judging from folks wanting to know when the book will be available. It is available now! Send $6 (includes postage) to: OC Wine Winners, Box 1598, Carson City, NV 89702.

OC gives gold, silver and bronze medals, but also gives something called a "4-Star Gold," which occurs when each of four judges on a panel, working independently, vote a gold medal for the same wine. It happens so rarely, that only 21 wines out of 2200 entries (or less than one percent) received a 4-Star in 1997.

Some of this year's 4-Stars are actually wines you won't have any trouble finding. Others are more esoteric and come from tiny producers with little distribution and will be very difficult to find. I usually tell you how to contact the wineries I mention, but can't do 21 addresses, so if you want to track one down call my office and someone will help you (800) 845-9463 or E-mail:

Here are this year's 4-Stars in alphabetical order:

  • Benziger 1995 "Sonoma" Merlot (widely available).
  • Beringer 1994 "Knights Valley" Cabernet Sauvignon (widely available).
  • Bonterra 1994 "Mendocino" Syrah (good availability).
  • Castle Vineyards 1995 "Carneros" Pinot Noir (a new label...I don't know a thing about it)
  • Cosentino Estate 1996 "Napa Valley" Gewurztraminer (limited availability)
  • Dolce 1993 "Napa Valley" Late Harvest (this California answer to French
  • Sauternes is very expensive but is available in most markets...bring your sweet tooth).
  • Dry Creek 1995 "Sonoma-25th Anniversary" Merlot (limited but national availability).
  • Fanucchi 1996 "Russian River-Sonoma" Trousseau Gris (a French synonym for what we usually call Grey Riesling in this country...very limited availability).
  • Gloria Ferrer NV "Sonoma Carneros" Blanc De Noir Sparkling (widely available).
  • Guenoc 1994 "California" Vintage Port (limited national distribution).
  • "J" 1993 "Sonoma County" Sparkling Wine (this widely available bubbly produced by the folks at Jordan winery is on a medal and sweepstakes winning roll).
  • Kalyra 1986 1986 Tawny Port "Cigar Blend" (any producer who thinks wine should be consumed with cigar smoke deserves not to be found).
  • Laetitia 1995 "San Luis Obispo-La Colline" Pinot Blanc (limited production and availability).
  • Mirassou 1996 "Monterey" Pinot Blanc/White Burgundy (widely available, a perennial medal winner and a "Best Buy").
  • Rabbit Ridge 1994 "Sonoma-Reserve" Avventura (limited but reasonable availability).
  • Rabbit Ridge 1994 "Barrique Riserva" Nebbiolo (ditto).
  • Richardson 1995 "Sonoma-Horne Vineyard" Cabernet Sauvignon (very limited).
  • Scharffenberger 1991 "Mendocino-Prestige Cuvee" Brut (limited availability).
  • St. Supery 1996 "Napa" Sauvignon Blanc (very good availability).
  • Van der Kamp 1993 "Sonoma-English Cuvee" Brut (limited availability sparkling wine).
  • Windsor Vineyards 1995 "Sonoma-Private Reserve" Carignane (available my mail or winery direct only).

In future weeks we'll list the OC golds from some of the more important categories. Stay tuned.


The long delayed (computer snafu) awards book of the New World International Wine Competition is finally off the presses and at hand. Its rules are very similar to OC's, except it is open to wines produced anywhere in North America, South America, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. Also highly recommended as a shopping guide, with winners listed both by variety and by winery. Send $6 to: NWIWC Winners, Box 1598, Carson City, NV 89702.


Last time we told you about the varietal and regional wines from this large and prestige German producer with interests in virtually every German growing region. This time about a specialty item that you must track down!


Deinhard 1994 BA ($10 the half bottle) BA is the abbreviation for the German term "Beerenauslese," which translates as "dried berry select late harvest," and such wines are produced from grapes that are virtual raisins (therefore containing little juice) and that have been affected by a beneficial mold called "Botrytis cinerea," which the French call "the noble rot." They are usually outrageously expensive. By utilizing hybrid grapes like Huxelrebe, Optima and several others, instead of expensive Riesling, Deinhard has found a way to not only produce this classic style at a reasonable price, but in more vintages than previously thought possible (the weather has to be just right). Imagine honey, peach, apricot, other stone fruit like nectarine, in a very sweet nectar, that is also balanced with acidity so as not to be cloying. You'll find yourself licking the glass for the last drop or two. It should be on the dessert wine list of every restaurant in America. Rating: 90/95

For nearest availability contact: Deinhard USA, 4525 Bougainvilla Dr #25, Ft. Lauderdale, FL 33308 (954) 771-2163.

Wines are scored using a unique 100 point system. First number rates quality; second number rates value.


© 1997 JDM Enterprises. All Rights Reserved
The Mead On Wine WebSite is designed, maintained and hosted by Wines on the Internet.
Latest Update: August 16, 1997