Enophile and Pinot-phile Greg Walter is a Carneros Groupie and former wine
spectator. Today he's a wine participant.
The beaming Valery Uhl is a medical friend of wine and looking for entries
which don't taste medicinal.
Her favorite book, we understand, is "Mon Docteur, Le Vin."
She is looking to prescribe numerous gold medals over the course of examining these wines.
The Vintuitive Tim McGarr is a foreign exchange wiz so he can give an
American-style numerical score to a French Champagne, for example. Tim's
Chronometer is as finely precise as his palate.
"Check, Please" shouts Leslie Sbrocco, who's taking time out from
her gig writing "The Real Life Wine Guide" to evaluate a few hundred
Tim McDonald seemed to have recovered nicely from his Bella Sera and is
looking forward to a Buon Giorno. Tim does know the Da Vinci Code (by
heart) and can Echo "Domani" with the best.
Tim shows off his latest use for a tongue depressor.
Globe-trotting wine critic, watermelon expert and budding screenplay
writer ("Failure to Lunch" is his most recent Oscar-worthy endeavor)
Anthony Dias (rhymes with "no bias") Blue leads the troops in tasting
more than 3800 wines during the weekend marathon.
When he's not flying the friendly skies (we understand he enjoyed a jaunt to
Tokyo to flaunt his black belt in wine tasting), Andy organizes vertical
tastings of Chateau Pepe Le Pew as well as moderating the new TV game show,
"Who's The Chef?"
I shot this photo just prior to Andy's launching into his rendition of the
famous William Shatner tune, "I Can't Get Behind That."
It was all, like, you know, so Andy.
More trouble occurred when Three Stooges
arrived doing a promotion tour for the upcoming remake of "The Three
Stooges Meet Hercules" which, coincidentally, has a cameo appearance by
Andy Blue who plays the paragon of masculinity.
Three prominent wine judges came to rescue poor
A few more Carmen MirAndy sightings were noted.
Meanwhile, Jack and Hedy were wheeling in another flight of wines.
Steve Izzo of San Francisco's "One Market Restaurant" tastes
"One Wine at a Time."
He's philosophical about judging wine and writes his tasting notes in Latin.
For example: (Exempli gratia)
"Vinum bellum iucunumque est, sed animo corporeque caret."
Jeffrey Porter of Andronico's Markets took this year's "Purple Palate
Award" acing out a field of challengers.
Who says wine-tasting is easy?
Janet Dyer excels at tasting wine.
Brian Baker of Jackson Wine Estates felt this wine was "a bit dark for a
Renee Nicole Kubin responds "Uh, Brian, we're tasting Cabernets."
She's affiliated with San Francisco's famous temple of high cuisine, Gary Danko.
"You know," Brian says, "It's difficult to say which is sweeter,
this glass of Chardonnay or these chocolates."
Renee says "I can't 'ear this Chardonnay very well, either."
Charles Mara found a "lotta lumber" in a number of wines. He's a
heavy hitter outta New York and can sing Soprano or baritone.
Most judges don't give him any grief since they noticed he arrived with a violin
case instead of a Samsonite.
Michael Feil looks for wines that make the cut. He addresses
each glass carefully and impartially, which he says is "tasting the
fairway." Feil mentioned "It's an honor to participate in
the Andy Blue Invitational. I'm looking forward to Sunday afternoon's
tasting to see who's on the leader board."
Drake McCarthy found out this past year that Diamonds are not forever.
He's managing Villa Italia, a prominent importer of Italian wines.
George Skorka of the Los Angeles "Jonathan Club."
George knows the secret handshake, for example.
But his cohorts on the former "Angry Panel" routinely get into heated
debates over the merits of the wines they are tasting.
Jeffrey Stivers, who had their table situated according to the suggestions of a
Feng Shui master, still looks as though he's going to blow his cork (or burst a
gasket) in arguing for a medal.
Mr. Stivers works at the Yi Cuisine establishment in Los Angeles when he's not
They end up settling their arguments like men.
Upon their tasting sweet dessert wines, I dubbed this trio "The Three
Robin Kelley O'Connor of the Bordeaux Wine Bureau is a member of the Commanderie du Bontemps de
Anthony Dias Blue.
He espouses wine, wit and wisdom as the leader of the Society of Wine Educators.
Robert Silverstein found some of these reds jarringly tannic.
He is affiliated with Jar Restaurant in Los Angeles.
Ron Brown-san had flown in from Japan to taste with our panel.
Kimberly Charles found her "double gold" candidate.
I sure hope that wasn't a spit cup.
We knew we were in for a long weekend.
Personal Sommelier and former electrical engineering student Ralph Hersom has
a wry sense of humor in assessing the various flights of wines.
"Yuck" is a frequent descriptor for those slacker wines. Mr.
Hersom was the wine director at the famous New York restaurant Le Cirque until
they folded their tent. Today he's got a little wine emporium in Rye, New
York. "I'd rather shock people with good value wines than with
electricity." explained this Krug Champagne-fanicier.
Eno-Stooge Mendel "Bev-Moe" Kohn.
Seor Mendel is working with Vinos and Gourmet, a Spanish wine importer when
he's not teaching wine-tasting classes (most recently to the Dallas Cowboy
cheerleaders and, before that, a wait staff training session at Hooters).
Terry Copeland-san, fresh from the Japan Wine Challenge, came to San Francisco
and the Hotel Nikko for this marathon. Happily, he does not have an
Ke-Vino Vogt of the Delmonico Steakhouse in Lost Wages said he had a
vision. "I dreamt our panel had an entire flight of double gold medal
wines. Man! That was freaky. Especially since they were
I found this scene a half a block from the judging!
Kevin's mantra is "Good wine, soulful wine. Merl-ohhhhhhm."
Vogt shows off his Eno-mudrā, explaining that one can also hold up a pair of
wine glasses with this gesture.
I walked away when the whole panel joined hands and started swaying while
I caught Rebecca Chapa trying to sneak onto another panel so this space cadet
could taste "Zinfandels from other Planets."
Looking through Ros-colored glasses.
Hedy, Jack and Barbara, our tasting panel coordinators.
Somehow, we were managing to navigate the way towards the best of the best.
Soon the judges would be casting
votes for the best of the Double Gold Medal winners.
volunteers began setting up the "Double Gold" Taste-Off.
Judges were anxiously awaiting this tasting.
"Are we there yet?" asked Rebecca.
"No!" replied Carol and Chandler.
Andy told the group "We'll cross that bridge when we come to it."
we were ready to start picking the best of the best.
Frank "Bongo" Prial taps out a tune on his spit bucket
(which, fortunately, was empty at this stage).
And the tasting began...
The judges vote for their favorites.
Some judges vote enthusiastically for their favorite wines.
Once the votes are tallied, we learn which wines took the top prizes.
And our fearless leaders take a bow.
Mister Wizard applauds the efforts of Carol Seibert and the jubilant Andy Blue.
Also given her "props" is the famous Chandler Moore.
The volunteers get a standing ovation from the judges...
And, finally, we completed the task of evaluating about 3800 wines.
HERE TO SEE THE ENTIRE LIST OF THE "BEST OF THE BEST".
Many thanks to the organizers of
this amazing event for including me as a judge...That's truly an honor and I
Thanks, too, to the army of volunteers who make this whole event possible.
It's brilliantly organized.
Thanks to all the judges for letting me snoop around and capture an image here
and there while they're focused on tasting and evaluating the wines.
And thanks for having a sense of humor, too.
y'all next year.
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