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Chips All In: Announcing the Winners of Wine & Spirits Third Annual Sommelier Scavenger Hunt

It wasn’t just the plant mister Cappie Peete used to recreate the fog incursions of the Petaluma Gap, or the bags of Ruffles Jack Mason distributed to the 38 jurors assembled to vote (was it a bribe, or was it all about the ridges?). It was the six wines of the West Sonoma Coast that earned David Sawyer’s team first place in our 2017 Sommelier Scavenger Hunt.

Four teams competed, each traveling to a different region of North America in search of six great pinot noirs. The ...Read more

posted on January 17, 2017

Portraits in Loess & Iron: Team Willamette Valley Reports from the 2017 Sommelier Scavenger Hunt

After scouring the Hunter Valley for outstanding semillon last year, our team of Canadians—Véronique Rivest (Soif Bar à Vin, Gatineau), Brad Royale (Canadian Rocky Mountain Resorts, Calgary) and John Szabo, MS (WineAlign.com, Toronto)—returned to seek out the most expressive pinot noirs in Oregon’s Willamette Valley. Szabo reports.



Pinot noir may not be defined by the Willamette Valley, but the Willamette is unquestionably defined by pinot noir. Few other New ...Read more

posted on January 12, 2017

Into the Fog: Santa Cruz Mountains Pinot Noir

California’s Santa Cruz Mountains AVA is a diverse region made up of unique, isolated vineyards of small scale that are above 800 feet in altitude on the eastern side and 400 feet on the western side. Two factors greatly impact the wines: ocean influence and complex mountain topography.

Most every vineyard in the AVA, because of their altitudes and Pacific proximity, deal with fog events most days; either an emersion in fog, or unique conditions above fog lines, such as warmer temperatures and higher UV levels. ...Read more

posted on January 11, 2017

Through Rain & Fog: Team West Sonoma Coast reports from the 2017 Sommelier Scavenger Hunt

This past December, David Sawyer (recently of Lilia, Brooklyn); Jack Mason, MS (Pappas Bros. Steakhouses, Houston) and Cappie Peete (Neighborhood Dining Group, Charleston, SC) headed to the western Sonoma Coast as part of our annual Sommelier Scavenger Hunt. Sawyer reports on their quest to track down the region’s six most expressive pinot noirs.

Day 1

We started out with a 36-bottle blind tasting of west Sonoma Coast pinot noirs from a wide selection of producers. After a couple of ...Read more

posted on January 2, 2017

Team Hunter Valley: Day 3

Day III was the big day, with visits at three of the Hunter Valley’s most storied and celebrated producers: Tyrrell’s, Mount Pleasant and Brokenwood. We were quite sure we’d scavenge at least a wine or two this day.

9:00 – 10:30 Tyrrell’s for tasting

A traffic jam at Pokolbin’s only roundabout, ...Read more

posted on October 5, 2015

Team Yarra Valley: Day 3

Day III began with an early start at Yarra Yering in Gruyere. We’d already met winemaker Sarah Crowe at the Healesville Hotel a few nights earlier; she originally came from the Hunter Valley, but quickly made friends with the Yarra winemakers, she said. “People reached out as soon as I got here and said, ‘Hey Sarah, ace to have you here, come get a beer at ...Read more

posted on October 4, 2015

Team Hunter Valley: Day 2

9:00 – 11:00 Silkman Wines

Day two began, unsurprisingly, with a right and a left (and a Brad: “Stay left”). Then we arrived. At least according to the almighty Google maps. The blue dot (us) was on top of the red pin (Silkman Wines). Only there was no Silkman Wine Cellar in sight. A little further up the road, and little further back. No Silkman. It took two sharp Canadians some time to work out that Silkman is ...Read more

posted on September 29, 2015

Team Yarra Valley: Day 2

After few weeks of heat waves in Southern California, it was nice waking up to a brisk winter morning in Yarra. Sarah to a run, while Jared and I listened to the local wildlife starting to stir and watched our breath fog up. After a big breakfast of fried potatoes with “bush spices and mountain peppers,” fennel sausage and back bacon we hit the road for our “benchmark tasting”—a blind tasting of wines from across the valley meant to give us an overview of the region ...Read more

posted on September 28, 2015

Team Hunter Valley: Day 1

Team Canada arrived in Sydney feeling shockingly fresh after 24 solid hours of travel, though down one critical member. Our ace, vice World Sommelier Champion Véronique Rivest from Gatineau, Québec, never even made it out of the country. Spectacular storms in the Midwest led to flight cancellations, and Rivest’s Chicago to LA routing left her grounded in Ottawa. Desperate efforts by Wine Australia and Wine & Spirits Magazine to find alternative routing (even through Europe) were to no avail. Véro was permanently ...Read more

posted on September 25, 2015

Team Tasmania: Day 4

We ended this trip the way that most begin—with bubbles. Our day started with a visit to Bay of Fires Winery, one of the larger producers in Tasmania, responsible for some of the greatest New World sparklers under the House of Arras label, made by Ed Carr.

Sparkling wine is an important part of the wine ...Read more

posted on September 24, 2015

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