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Somm Challenge Standouts

Robert Whitley on

In addition to the top wine (2015 Tom Eddy Greeg Vineyard cabernet sauvignon) and winery (Akash Winery, Temecula) the 13th annual Sommelier Challenge delivered a number of impressive performances that deserve mention, especially as the sometimes-frantic holiday wine-buying season looms just ahead.

I will begin with one of the true stars of the annual wine competition season, Navarro Vineyards.

Navarro, a family-owned winery located in California's Anderson Valley, swept up 17 medals including four platinum and six gold. Its platinum winners were the 2019 riesling Late Harvest Cluster Select ($39), the 2019 pinot gris ($22), the 2019 gewurztraminer Late Harvest ($25) and the 2019 muscat blanc dry ($22).

The Barefoot value brand also picked up 17 medals including one platinum (merlot, $6.99) and 11 gold. Its sister brand, Barefoot Bubbly, earned eight medals, including 1 platinum (Peach, $9.99) and two gold.

California's Paso Robles region was well represented in the winners circle, too. Robert Hall Winery turned in a stellar performance with 18 medals including two platinum (2018 tempranillo, $45, and 2019 grenache rose, $24) and 12 gold. Eberle Winery collected 11 medals total including one platinum (2017 cabernet sauvignon estate, $45) and six gold.

While California dominated the overall medal count, the best-of-show awards were a diverse group. Best sparkling was the Le Chemin du Roi brut Champagne, France ($165). Best rose was the 2020 Elysian Springs "Apple Cart" pinot rose, Adelaide Hills, Australia ($30). Best white was the 2018 Bischofliche Weinguter Trier Ayler Kupp riesling kabinett, Saar Mosel, Germany ($22.99). And, of course, the best red was the Tom Eddy cabernet sauvignon, and best dessert wine the Navarro Cluster Selects riesling.


For complete results, including all best-of-class wines, visit

Tasting Notes

Wines are rated on a 100-point scale. Wines are chosen for review because they represent outstanding quality or value, and the scores are simply a measure of this reviewer's enthusiasm for the recommended wine.

Tom Eddy 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley ($150) -- Cabernet sauvignon is what the Napa Valley is most famous for, and few do it better than winemaker Tom Eddy. This 2015 (a fab vintage) is a blockbuster that screams out Napa Valley cab. Rich and dense, with bottomless power and remarkable depth, it delivers dark fruit aromas of cassis and blackberry, firm but supple tannins, and a rousing finish that is exceptionally long, even by Napa Valley standards. Rating: 97.


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