Consumer Wine Judging Event: The Golden Nose Awards

After much anticipation, (sorry to those who had to hear about how excited I was about this event…more times than once!) I participated in the third annual Golden Nose Awards  at the Corning Museum of Glass in Corning, NY.   The event is a dream-come-true for Finger Lakes wine lovers, no matter what your level of understanding.  (Photostream here: http://flickr.com/photos/vinopr/)

When I first heard of the event, I was a bit taken aback.  There’s an opportunity to participate in a wine judging panel among other consumers just as anxious to learn how to properly judge wines as me?  As a publicist who is just breaking into the world of wine, with a special interest in Finger Lakes Wine, this was a great opportunity to gain more intimate knowledge of the wines of the region and learn from an esteemed panel including Peter Bell (Fox Run Vineyards), Lorraine Hems (Rochester Institute of Technology and The New York Wine and Culinary Center), Laura Kudla (MadderLake Cafe), Tim Moore (Imagine Moore Winery), Ann Raffetto (Wagner Vineyards), Lindsay Stevens (King Ferry Winery), Barry Tortolon (Rooster Hill Vineyards), Dave Whiting (Red Newt Cellars), Derek Wilber (White Springs Winery) and Jim Zimar (Prejean Winery).

After mingling with fellow judges during a reception at the Rockwell Museum of Art on Friday night, Saturday morning began with a 2 1/2 hour training and judging session that included a Wine Judging “How To” session by Lorraine Hems, Wine Components Tasting by Peter Bell, Wine Flaws and “Off Flavors” demonstration by Derek Wilber (yes, we smelled hydrogen sulfide and cork taint during this one), Representative Wine Tasting by Jim Zimar and a Varietal Comparison Session by Dave Whiting for those who had participated in past Golden Nose Awards as judges.  Okay, now we’re ready to get judging!

Judges were broken into smaller panels led by a panel leader who tabulated each wine flight’s scores.  Each wine was judged and awarded points for Clarity, Color, Aroma, Taste, Balance and Overall Quality and given Double Gold, Gold, Silver, Bronze or No Award.  A Double Gold indicated that the panel unanimously voted the wine a Gold Award winner.  In our group, we only awarded one Double Gold.  My panel judged wine flights of Sparkling Wines, Riesling, Pinot Gris/Grigio, White Hybrid Blends, Cabernet Sauvignon and Melomels (Mead w/fruit).

I could see that the Golden Nose Awards judges were engrossed in the judging process and took it very seriously.  Our panel was so fortunate to have one-on-one time with Jim Zimar, our panel leader, who was a wealth of information and anecdotes and gave us insight into a winemaker’s life.  He grew up working during school breaks at wineries in the Finger Lakes, and became a winemaker at Prejean in 1986.  I very much appreciated the time he took during our judging to explain winemaking process, growing conditions and his thoughts on how our emotional associations with certain smells can determine if we’ll like a wine since smell is such a large component of taste.

The day concluded with the Dinner Reception, Grand Tasting and Awards Ceremony at the Corning Museum of Glass.  The food was excellent and was prepared by CMoG’s Chef Christian Chiron.  Attendees also had free reign of the wine tasting tables featuring the award winning wines of the day.  The awards were presented by Morgen McLaughlin, President of The Finger Lakes Wine Country Tourism Marketing Association and Assemblyman Jim Bacalles, who was part of an Assembly Minority that secured funding for the New York Wine and Grape Foundation and for the Farm Viability Institute.  Local favorite Virgil Cain performed for the “hard-working” judges, their guests and dinner attendees. 

Complete results are posted at http://senecalakewine.com/jc/content/view/121/149/

Best of Class awards:
Sheldrake Point Vineyard – Summer White
Lakewood Vineyards – Riesling
Goose Watch Winery – Viognier
Goose Watch Winery – Cabernet Sauvignon
Hickory Hollow Wine Cellars – Liquid Wisdom
Seneca Shore Wine Cellars – Sherry
Red Newt Cellars – Cabernet Franc

Double Gold Awards:
Billsboro Winery – Cabernet Franc
Earle Estate Meadery – Peach Perfection
Glenora Wine Cellars – Alpine White
Hosmer Winery – Riesling
Lakewood Vineyards – Dry Riesling
Lakewood Vineyards – Riesling
Torrey Ridge Winery – Niagara
 
Congratulations to the winning wineries!
Next year’s Golden Nose Awards are tentatively scheduled for May 30, 2009.  I noticed
that this event drew wine lovers from other states including Michigan, Pennsylvania
and Missouri and the crowd was friendly. If you have a love of wine and would like
to learn more about its components and the wines of the Finger Lakes, mark your
calendars for next year’s event.   As I reflected on the day,  I found myself thinking,
“It’s a tough job, but somebody has to do it!”
For a blog post from a fellow Golden Nose Awards judge, the Finger Lakes Weekend Wino, see http://tinyurl.com/6fusps
and http://tinyurl.com/6kt2te
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3 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Paul Comerford on June 12, 2008 at 9:59 am

    Hi Melissa,
    I was in the same panel as you (I was guy with the shirt that was just slightly louder than Jim’s.) Wat a wonderful weekend, and wonderful wine event. Jim was a great guide and a great guy. We were fortunate to have as many fantastic wines as we did, and kudos to the Seneca Lakfolks for organizing such a fun event. We’ll definatly be back next year.

    Reply

  2. Posted by Paul Comerford on June 12, 2008 at 10:02 am

    Here is a post I made on a winemakers website about teh Golden Nose.

    http://www.winepress.us/forums/index.php?showtopic=27304

    Reply

  3. Hi Paul,
    So nice to see you here. It was a fun, interactive event, wasn’t it? I recommended that they bring Jim back next year. I hope to see you there. Maybe we could ask him for a winery tour the day after the event. :)

    Melissa

    Reply

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