June 13th was the start of the 2008 San Francisco
International Wine Competition as judges from around the planet converged for a
weekend full of sniffing, sipping and spitting.
We are led through some 4200+ wines this year, as usual, by the intrepid
Anthony Dias Blue, featured on this cover of The Nose magazine.
The weekend begins with several panels of judges evaluating wines on Friday
afternoon, getting a head-start.
In the evening, most of the wine geeks congregate for the "Judge's Dinner," a
convivial soiree of vittles and vino.
Apparently the wasabi in the sushi caught Andy by surprise, priming his palate
for the hundreds of wines on the weekend's horizon.
The infamous Ann Littlefield primed her palate with Champagne.
Name Tag, Please!
The New York "Mafia"...
Charles Mara, Liz Anathan and Michael Feil.
Lisa Weeks sings a duet with Ron Washing Machine.
Ellen Landis and Valery Uhl share tips on the various shoe sales in The City,
while Ken Landis contemplates another sip of Champagne.
The infamous Rosina Tinari Wilson wets her whistle with Champagne.
Wine Competition Director Carol Seibert and the notorious Wilfred "90 Points"
Ron Silverstein is delighted to have a flute glass for the Champagne instead of
his customary jar as he and Tim McGarr share their ideas about the wine known as
Mr. and Mrs. Brian Baker tell Leslie Sbrocco about their favorite dining
establishments, asking when Taylor's Refresher was last featured on her TV
program profiling restaurants.
"They have a great wine-by-the-cup program," Brian
Wilfred attempts to show Drake McCarthy and Ellen Landis how to operate
chopsticks or create fire.
Drake struggles to keep his eyes open and Ellen nods off...
The CIA's Traci Dutton seemed to have the place under total surveillance as Ann
Littlefield kept her telescoping fork at the ready.
Carol's "right hand", Chandler Moore.
The first course was accompanied by some Kendall Jackson wines.
Our table enjoyed a wide array of bottles...from a Hans Wirsching Scheurebe
Kabinett wine to a Clos Henri Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand. We opened
a Ramonet Chassagne-Montrachet Rouge from the 2005 vintage and a 1996 Pio Cesare
Lisa mentioned it had been several weeks since she'd enjoyed a wine this much...
Andy, the Man In Blue, then announced all the panel assignments and which judges
would be arm wrestling each other for the rest of the weekend.
And if the panel assignment announcement wasn't enough of a dessert, we were
offered a second treat.
Ellen and Ken Landis then took a moment to encourage one and all to hoist a
glass to remember former wine judge David P. Jones who died recently at a very
early age as a result of a battle with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis.
The group then mingles and old friends catch up on the latest news and
Tim McGarr and the infamous Linda Murphy.
Debra Parker Wong is not related to the infamous Wilfred Wong.
Otherwise, Carol would not have invited the both of them to judge at the same
tasting, since "Two Wongs don't make a Right."
Tim brought a nice Piemontese wine resembling a Vin Santo, except it's made of
the Arneis grape.
Notice, please, Tim buys his jackets at the same haberdashery as Andy...
I had seen Wilfred taking some photos of wine bottles and such, but was shocked
when he appeared on the other "side" of the camera.
Someone apparently mentioned they thought a particular wine had "nice
legs" and Wilfred went crazy...
And he had plenty of help, it seems!
"298 Points!" WILFRED WONG
It was about this point in time I started to hear the strains of a familiar
song...a Willie Nelson tune, actually...
Turn out the lights the party's over they
say that all good things must end
Let's call it a night the party's over and tomorrow starts the same old thing
With the prospect of several hundred wines on the horizon, I departed for a good
snooze so I could be ready for Saturday's tastings...
ON TO THE