By Jay Bileti
The El Dorado County Fair Wine Competition produced a lot of great wine picks. The competition welcomes entries from all over the world but is mainly a focus on the wines of El Dorado and Amador counties. This is an exciting wine competition to judge because it showcases some exceptional wines that avoid the cost premiums of some of the more famous California regions.
El Dorado and Amador counties have long been known for outstanding Zinfandel, and they remain true to that reputation. But they also make excellent wines from Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Barbera and Sangiovese.
Here’s an insider’s look at a couple of the of the top wine picks from the June 2021 competition. I’ve selected those that I think represent excellent value.
Shenandoah Vineyards Amador County 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon ($20).
I’ll begin with the steal of the event, a double gold medal winner (all judges on the panel agreed it deserved a gold medal) Cabernet Sauvignon from Amador County that also won Best of Class. And it sells for $20. It’s very rare that a California Cabernet Sauvignon, made from 30-year-old vines and aged in new oak will sell for anything like this price. If you like California Cabernet Sauvignon and you can get some of this you will not be disappointed. Shenandoah Vineyard Wines – Sobon Wines
Sobon Estate 2019 Cougar Hill Estate Zinfandel ($18).
A classic Amador County Zinfandel at a fantastic price. This won a gold medal in the competition and inspired me to visit the winery afterward to get a couple of bottles to take home. Very fruit forward but more elegant and balanced than many full-throttle Zins. Killer value. Sobon Estate Wines – Sobon Wines
Cooper Vineyards 2018 Sangiovese ($29).
This wine also earned a double gold medal at the competition. Really terrific tart cherry/cranberry and spice flavors, a signature of Sangiovese. Good crisp acidity that will make it an excellent food companion. A couple of bottles of this came home with me. Very good value. Cooper Wines
Crystal Basin Cellars 2018 Reserve Syrah ($30).
El Dorado Syrah which won a double gold medal as well as Best of Class. Very intense black cherry/blackberry fruit for those that like big, fruity wines. Excellent value as Syrah of this quality could cost twice as much from some other California regions. Crystal Basin Cellars
For a complete list of all winning wines from the competition, check here: Wine results Class 2021.
Don’t miss the American Wine Society Amateur and Commercial Wine Competitions this fall.