invitation to participate in the 2005 San Francisco International Wine
Competition came in the Spring and I was delighted and honored to, once again,
be a part of this amazing wine-tasting marathon.
In the course of a weekend, wine judges from around the country converged at the
Hotel Nikko in San Francisco to sniff, sip and spit well more than 3000 wines!
Though things don't really get rolling until Saturday morning, a few judges are
enlisted to help get a head start on the tasting Friday afternoon. I
trekked to The City and sat down with our fearless leader, Anthony Dias Blue
(sounds pretentious, but he goes by "Andy") to taste some Pinot
Noirs. Michael Feil of the Lake Merced Golf & Country Club and Ann
Littlefield of New Vine Logistics are also on the panel.
There is an army of the most wonderful people who volunteer to actually do a
tremendous amount of work to organize the wines, open and pour them and drag
glasses to each and every judge.
We often have 10 to 20 wines in a flight, so this means we need a lot of
Andy and Ann seemed to feel more comfortable discussing their results on the
phone, so each whipped out their Nokias and one dialed up the other.
At least, that's what it looked like from my chair.
"Can you hear me now? Wine G sucks!"
Michael Feil didn't need the phone.
You can tell it's early in the weekend...the judge's teeth have not turned
Andy is a world traveler, always on the trail of new wines, new spirits, old
wines, old spirits and good eats.
Check out his "blue blog" on his own website...some rather candid
musings are posted when the mood is right.
After we finish the afternoon tasting session, there's a
Judge's Dinner Friday evening way up in the sky.
The judges gather, along with a sponsor or two and we sip Champagne as nearly
everyone arrives for this conviviality.
Everyone wears a name tag so they don't forget who they are.
This is less painful than a tattoo.
This year we had a nice Champagne...
A vintage-dated Moet et Chandon Brut...nice!
Some of the judges are very distinguished...
Michael Hill-Smith and the inimitable George Skorka.
Mr. & Mrs. Michael Salarno are founders of the wine tasting competition when
it was more a part of the San Francisco County Fair. They're a delight and
seem to enjoy tasting the curious bottles I drag out of my cellar bag during
I sat next to an old friend, Janet Dyer...
She's not that old, however.
My bottle of Karthauserhof's Grner Veltliner was delicious with the salad.
The label also matched this dish, making it extremely compatible!
Mr. & Mrs. Porter. Shana & Jeff.
I brought a nice bottle of "Villa Seibert" to share with our group in
honor of the organizer of this grand event, Carol Seibert.
I brought a bottle with Andy's name on it...
Anthony Dias BLUE NUN!
You can find anything on the internet and I found a photo of Andy dressed up as
a nun for a charity auction fund-raiser someplace.
The main plate was lamb and though Carol's "right hand" assistant
Chandler Moore was dining elsewhere, we opened her bottle anyway!
This bottle did not last long!
As the meal concludes, Andy then announces who's on whose panel and tasting what
and what-not. It's a nice way for everyone to see and be seen.
Andy, who at this point was, apparently, wearing his halo, finds a moment to
accept a kiss from an adoring "en-groupie."
Kevin Vogt of Delmonico's Steak House in Lost Wages, Nevada, finally arrived
after being detained by airport security for attempting to smuggle a corkscrew
on board his flight to SFO.
Leslie Sbrocco (who's missing a vowel, it seems to me) and Rebecca Chapstick
were especially thrilled when Homeland Security gave Kevin the "okay"
to get on the plane (without his bottle opener or his nail clippers...we
understand he was able to put his chain saw in the overhead compartment, since
it wouldn't fit under the seat in front of him).
Tim McDonald brought the perfect present for one of the judges...a telescoping
Mighty handy at a big dinner table!
Michael Feil, Steve (Mister Petite Sirah, Mister Riesling) Pitcher and a lady
from Geyser Peak winery.
The devilish Ann Littlefield using a smaller version of her pitchfork on Andy.
Rosina Tinari-Wilson yakking it up with Brad Baker.
Kimberly Charles, the great communicator, with Drake "007" McCarthy
(who's decided Diamonds are not Forever).
And so...back downstairs and home for a snooze, for
tomorrow is another day!
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