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San Francisco International Wine Competition 2012  Page 1

 

It's not every year that the U.S. Open Golf Championship rolls into town, but coinciding with this year's San Francisco International Wine Competition, golfing fans were out at San Francisco's Olympic Club for a look at Tiger Woods and other stars of the links.

The U.S. Open has been played in San Francisco only 5 times over the past 100+ years.  Anthony Dias Blue has led a field of skilled wine-tasters for many years in tasting and evaluating thousands of wines over the course of the third weekend in June.

This is a grand event, with something like 4,500 hundred wines entered in the 2012 event.

There were 49 judges from around the world (with one or two likely being from even more far away outposts!) at this year's event.
And there's a small army of staff members and volunteers who work to actually make this event run as smoothly as possible (kudos to one and all of those hard-working folks!).  Head Honcho Chandler Moore has one well oiled machine, with dozens of staffers caddying bottles and glasses from the staging area to the various panels at the Hotel Nikko not far from the Olympic Club.

 

The group of judges is like a large family and it's "old home week" as the gang assembles for the first round of tastings.

After parking the car Friday morning, I hoofed it to the tasting venue and was a bit floored to see a little billboard promoting an upcoming stage performance at the RRazz Room.

It really should not surprise anyone that George Skorka is a man of many talents.   I had no idea....

Meanwhile---


I chaired Panel H, being lucky to spend the weekend with two immensely professional wine judges, Jim Harre of New Zealand and Kevin Vogt of Las Vegas.


Kevin is a Master Sommelier who handles the cellar at the Delmonico Steakhouse for Chef Emeril Lagasse.



Jim recently revealed, in a tell-all article posted by the New Zealand Herald, details of "What I Pack."  It turns out Jim likes to travel in business class on the airplane, but is more often than not, in the back of the bus.  Ironically, Jim spent several decades working for Air New Zealand!
If you want to know how your taste perceptions of wine is affected by flying in an airplane, simply ask Mr. Harre.

He recently, we learned, spent a few days at Schloss Vollrads, raiding their cellar and drinking copious quantities of old, well-aged Rieslings.


Mr. & Mrs. Harre run The Gates Country Lodge in New Zealand, by the way.




Panel A was headed by San Diego's Nick Ponomareff of The California Grapevine.

Nick is working harder than ever with his publication now being published on a more frequent basis...

It seems there are so damned many California wines, Nick has to go to press every month.

 


Deborah Parker Wong is the Northern California Editor of The Tasting Panel Magazine.
Deborah's son Devon is a big-time Swashbuckler, so we imagine she's capable of sabering open bottles of Champagne...and we know she's always en garde when tasting a flight of wines.

Also on Panel A is Gary Blackwell, proprietor of the Geary Boulevard libations emporium called Blackwell's.

 


Panel B as in Blue...


The inimitable Anthony (Buenos) Dias Blue.
The facial hair is, as we understand it, referred to as Andy's "James Beard."
He's the publisher of The Tasting Panel Magazine as well as being a star of stage, radio and TV.

We found he's even got an interesting autobiography posted on line.
It turns out Mr. Blue is of Irish heritage, apparently, don't ya' know?


CLICK ON THE Mick O'Pedia logo above to see, fer crissakes, Mr. Blue's biography, Irish style.

Also on Mr. Blue's Panel is the multi-talented Rebecca Chapa.

Rebecca owns a little enterprise called Tannin Management and she knows it takes a lot of singing and dancing to sell a bottle of wine.

 

Keeping an eye on Andy and Rebecca was The Great Kate Radburnd.

Kate's got an impressive resume and is a partner in New Zealand's CJ Pask winery where she produces a wine with her own name on the label.

Terry Copeland of the New Zealand branch of Treasury Wine Estates.

 Terry speaks knowledgeably about wine service while Jim Harre and Kate Radburnd hang out in the background...

Tim McDonald wears many hats in his line of work, but wears only one at a time.

His panel members mentioned Tim DOES KNOW Spit from Shinola!


Mister Sacramento, Mike Dunne.
Mike worked for the Sacramento Bee as the wine guy, food editor and restaurant critic.
Mister Sacto splits his time, these days, between Baja California and Alta California, so he's also known as Senor Los Cabos.
During the weekend of wine judging he was known as Senor Los Cabernets.

Also on Panel C, Debbie Z.

Ferry God-Mother Debbie Zachareas tips her chapeau to the handful of Gold Medal wines her panel unearthed.

And she probably needed the sunglasses because she was seated next to bright light Ron Siragusa.

Ron hails from New York State and is the wine director at San Francisco's Kuleto's restaurant near Union Square.  He learned about wine from his nonno.
Ron is a big fan of Italian wines and appreciates, especially, wines from Naples.



Panel D was comprised of the law firm of Charles, Charles and McCarthy.


Goodfella Charles Mara was the captain of this group.

 


Kimberly has adopted the philosophy of "better living through dessert" and she's not been burnt by this notion.
She's the Capa dei Tutti Capi of Charles Communications.


"Sir Francis" Drake McCarthy is a fixture in Bay Area wine importing.
He's a fan of drive-in movies, Sherry, Rioja and Ribera del Duero wines...

 


Panel E was chaired (and Vice Chaired) by Chateau Montelena's Brian Baker.

Brian is active in the California Travel Association...

"He's always telling us where to go..." said one of his travel colleagues.


Tim Teichgraeber is a Doctor, a Mister and an Esquire, all rolled into one...

...and he tastes wines masterfully!
Tim commutes to the office these days, as we understand it, driving a chank Diesel auto.


The Vine Guy, Scott Greenberg, insures good taste by balancing two West Coast palates with one from the East Coast.
Scott writes for The Examiner as well as for his own blog.

Panel D said they thought some of the wines they tasted "were a gas!"

And Brian, Tim and Scott were right!






Yes, Panel F did have Wilfred Wong as its Chairman!
Who better than a guy with a Mousy Tongue?

 


The volunteer corps was curious to see what Wilfred was doing, typing tasting notes onto a computer...
Wilfred, it seems, was posting more Facebook messages (checking in for a dry Cappuccino at the gym and a workout at a nearby Starbucks!).  He sent his chauffeur to buy gas at Costco in Concord ("It's 5 cents a gallon cheaper out there than it is in The City and you know what a nickel can buy!")
Chairman Wilfred burned 150 calories tasting that flight of wines as well as 2 wineries with "no award" notations.



A leading light in the Wilfred's Gang of Four is (soon to be) Famous Actress Janet Dyer.


Another Mover and Shaker is Famous Sommelier, Jane Rate.

Jane moved back to Northern California and is currently shaking in Napa so she can be closer to good Cabernet.


Jeff Anderson is the wine director at San Francisco's Gary Danko restaurant.
The list is voluminous and he's curated a marvelous collection of wines from the world's top wine regions.
Jeff would tip his cap, shouting "chapeau!" when he'd come across a gold medal-worthy wine.

Wilfred then would ask:

And he'd add:





CONTINUED ON THE NEXT PAGE