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That’s just one of the descriptors that a panel of judges came up with during the recent Press Democrat North Coast Wine Challenge. Another descriptor was “very feminine, the lingerie of pinot noir.”

We spent a day and a half tasting through more than 900 wines and coming up with clever descriptors as we endeavored to find the knockouts.

A total of 167 gold medals were awarded, just shy of 19% of the wines entered.

“I don’t believe any other competition in the USA can boast this quality level,” said Daryl Groom, head organizer and chief judge. “This is an increase over the prior year where we had just less than 15%. As word gets out more and more high-end wineries are entering …”

The top ranking red — W. H. Smith 2010 Maritime Vineyard Pinot Noir — came through our panel and wowed us all. It was striking — deep, rich and seamless — and it was no surprise to us that it sailed through the sweepstakes round to win Best of the Best.

While all the top ranking wines were standouts, none elicited quite the reaction of last’s year’s top red – the Beaulieu Vineyard 2009 Tapestry Reserve Bordeaux Blend. You recall the infamous quote from judge Bob Foster who said: “Please pour this wine over my naked body.”

Foster’s wit matches his incredible palate and I, for one, love his backstory. He is the assistant editor of “The California Grapevine,” and for years he moonlighted with the publication while he was working his day job as Supervising Deputy Attorney General in San Diego.

“I worked on cases against some of the worst of our society – murderers, rapists, evil people, so the wine stuff was literally and figuratively the antidote, nice friendly people and positive experiences. No evil.”

Another taster with an interesting backstory is William S. Bloxsom-Carter. He’s the executive chef and director of food and beverage at Hugh Hefner’s Playboy Mansion in Los Angeles.

“I’m really excited about the top chardonnay and pinot noir and will see what I can do to share them with our guests,” he said.

Bloxsom-Carter has been working at the mansion for more than 27 years, entertaining 100,000 guests a year. He stocks two cellars at the mansion, one with every day wines and the other with wines for high roller dinners.

Judging gives Bloxsom-Carter a chance to size up bottlings that may well end up in one of his cellars. He said he likes this contest because of the quality of the wines and the diplomacy of the judges.

“What’s nice about this wine competition is that the judges park their egos outside the front door before they come in,” he said. “In negotiations, they don’t force their opinion on each other.”

Check out the winners of this year’s competition.

 

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