Awards for Abacela wines go beyond Tempranillo in Oregon

By on March 10, 2013
Abacela makes room in its Fault Line Vineyards for young plantings of Albarino and Tempranillo. (Eric Degerman/Great Northwest Wine)

Abacela makes room in its Fault Line Vineyards for young plantings of Albariño and Tempranillo. (Eric Degerman/Great Northwest Wine)

CANYONVILLE, Ore. – The Umpqua Valley Winegrowers Association recently staged the 43rd Greatest of the Grape as J. Scott Cellars and Abacela left Oregon’s oldest wine event with the top awards.

Abacela 2009 Estate SyrahJ. Scott Cellars, a Eugene project by Silvan Ridge winemaker Jonathan Scott Oberlander, won the professional judges’ best of show for its 2011 Grenache. Abacela’s 2009 Estate Syrah was voted The People’s Choice during the March 2 gala at Seven Feathers Hotel Resort and Casino.

“This is our second year in a row to win,” said Earl Jones, Abacela’s owner and founding winemaker. “Last year, we won with our Tempranillo, so it’s nice to see two of our varieties climbing to the top of the ladder in successive years.”

Abacela winemaker Andrew Wenzl is coming off a remarkable 2012 medal season, capped last fall as Oregon’s top performer in Wine Press Northwest’s 13th annual Platinum Judging. His 2011 Albariño, 2011 Grenache Rosé and 2009 Port received Platinums in the invitation-only competition among gold-medal winning wines.

Based on Wenzl’s assessments of last year’s widely acclaimed vintage, Abacela’s 2012 Albariño could score even better this year with its production of 1,300 cases.

“In even difficult vintages, I make a really good wine (with Albariño),” Wenzl said during an early January interview. “If you can make a beautiful wine like (the 2011 Albariño) in a challenging year, imagine what it’s like in 2012.”

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Of course, Jones brought Tempranillo to the Umpqua Valley, and he was a early champion in the region for Grenache, so it makes sense that other wineries in Southern Oregon now are enjoying success with both Iberian red varieties.

900 attend 43rd Greatest of the Grape

Other gold medals in the Greatest of Grape judging were awarded to Delfino Vineyards 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon, Pyrenees Vineyard and Cellars 2011 Riesling, Season Cellars 2012 Transparency White, Triple Oak Vineyard 2010 Tempranillo and Troon Vineyard 2008 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon. Those wines were judged by Bay Area freelance writer Deborah Grossman, British Columbia wine reporter Peter Mitham and Seattle blogger Clive Pursehouse.

The public portion of the Greatest of the Grape included food-and-wine pairings. Earlier this winter, a random draw matched  14 restaurants from throughout Southern Oregon with wines from 28 producers as the chefs worked to pair their cuisine to the respective wines.

The professional food judge award for best food and wine pairing was presented to River’s Edge Restaurant in Grants Pass for the Braised Short Rib with Wasabi Sun Choked Puree served with Spangler Vineyards 2010 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon.

Organizers said the evening drew nearly 900 patrons, and event proceeds are used to help promote Southern Oregon’s wine industry and the Umpqua Valley Winegrowers Heritage Scholarship Fund for the wine program at Umpqua Community College.

About Eric Degerman

Eric Degerman is the President and CEO of Great Northwest Wine. He is a journalist with more than 30 years of daily newspaper experience and has been writing about wine since 1998. He co-founded Wine Press Northwest magazine with Andy Perdue and served as its managing editor for a decade. He is a frequent wine judge at international wine competitions throughout North America and orchestrates 10 Northwest competitions each year.

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