The Tri-Valley Conservancy (TVC) recently crowned its Best of Show winners at the annual Uncorked wine competition.
TVC Executive Director Laura Mercier kicked off the evening held outdoors at the Palm Event Center. Uncorked Coordinator Georgie Saucedo introduced each winner, giving them a chance to speak.
First up was winemaker Dave Hendrickson of Occasio, who won both Best Other White with his 2020 Malvasia Bianca and Best Chardonnay over $35. Hendrickson also received congratulations from Supervisor David Haubert for winning Best of Show for the Malvasia. Hendrickson admitted to being smitten by this grape and that this vintage was beyond doubt the best he’d ever made.
“I'm hoping this win will help spread the word about this grape since people are so often reluctant to drink wine that they are unfamiliar with,” he said. “What is really fun about Malvasia is how you can play around with it to coax out its abundant aromas in different ways.”
He’s distilled it as an eau de vie for Sidewinder since starting at Occasio in 2015, and an MB-based Angelica is in the works, as is a Methode Champenoise sparkling. The wine scored 96 points, Double Gold, Best Dry White, Best White and Best of Show.
Rhonda Wood and her son, Harrison, got two chances to speak, with Rhonda sharing the story behind “The Pink Pearl” Best of Class rosé, a tribute to her girlfriends who’d get together for drinks at a bar of the same name. Harrison introduced the 2018 Wood Family “The Captain,” the Best of Class Bordeaux Blend, which is named after his mom, who once piloted aircraft for a living.
Page Mill winemaker and owner Dane Stark was awarded Best Merlot for his 2018.
“I don’t think my Merlot is necessarily the Best Merlot,” he said. “There are so many great Merlots in Livermore. I am in awe of my peers and thank them and the judges for this honor. The best wine depends on the occasion. If I’m having a ribeye steak, I want Mark Clarin’s McGrail Merlot. If I’m having duck confit, I want mine!”
He expressed gratitude for the opportunity to live and work in the wine community of Livermore, which sustains so many families and businesses.
Steven Mirassou, awarded Best of Class for his 2018 L’Autre Cote Cabernet Franc, directed everyone’s attention to the hills outside, just beginning to twinkle in the evening light.
“The Livermore AVA has such a long rich history of making great wine,” Mirassou said. “We’re really just getting started. Cabernet Franc could be our future. I think our best days are just ahead.”
Griffin Beemiller of Nella Terra seemed stunned to learn that his 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon from Smith Ranch, made by Collin Cranor (Nottingham Cellars) and aged in 40% new French oak, had been named Best Red of Show. This wine had some stiff competition in the running for Best Red, but it prevailed. Two of the professional judges in the final round declared it “very Napa-like in structure and tannins.”
Could brawn over beauty enable the Cab to prevail over the Best Rosé or Best White, though? Not this time. The Occasio Malvasia Bianca took Best of Show, for its purity of expression and all around charm: definitely a “Miss America” wine in the classic sense of beauty, style, poise and grace.