Zinfandel, 3 years or less in age, with 54 entries, provided some remarkable wines and values. Six Gold Medals were awarded, a high number for this medium-size class. Gold medalists are Congress Springs, 1983; Nalle, Sonoma, 1984; Fitch, Mountain Cellars, Sonoma and Napa Valley blend, 1984; Haywood, 1984; Hecker Pass, 1984, and Kendall Jackson, Dupratt, 1984.
Silver medalists are Fetzer, Special Reserve, Mendocino, 1983; Fritz, Dry Creek, 1983; Guenoc, Lake County, 1983; Hop Kiln, Russian River Valley, 1983; Kenwood, Sonoma Valley, 1983; Meeker, 1983; the Rosenblum Cellars, Sonoma, 1984, and Shenandoah, Special Reserve, 1983.
These wines, given a couple of years of bottle age, will do nicely, especially since most are offered at a low cost, generally for less than $10. Also try the bronze medalists, Karly, Amador, 1983; Lytton Springs, 1984; McLester, 1983; Preston, 1983 and Stevenot, Calaveras County, 1984.
More mature and in many cases ready to drink are the Zinfandels 3 years of age or older, especially gold medalist Cuvaison, Napa Valley, 1980, because of longer bottle age and a bigger structure than most.
Other gold medalists are Buena Vista, Barrica, 1982; Edmeades, Ciapusci, 1982; Mark West, Sonoma, 1983, and Olsen, Mendocino, Special Reserve, 1983.
Silver medalists will do nicely, too, because of tannins softened by longer aging. Silver medalists are Mirassou, Harvest Reserve, Monterey, 1981; Guenoc Lake County, 1981; Deer Park, Napa Valley, 1981; Davis Bynum, Sonoma, 1982; Inglenook, Napa Valley, Estate Bottled, 1982; V. Sattui, Napa Valley, 1982; Storybook Mountain, Estate Reserved, 1982; Topolos, Ultimo-Sonoma, 1982, and Fitzpatrick, Shenandoah Valley, 1983.
Two bronze medalists with even longer aging are solid choices: River Oaks, Private Reserve, 1980, and Sausal, Private Reserve, 1980. Other bronze medalists are Dehlinger, Sonoma, 1982; Mountain House, Amador, 1982, and Kenwood, Sonoma Valley, 1982.
Although there are not many wineries making Barbera now, because of consumers' changing tastes, a fine bottle out of only six entries is gold medalist Greenstone Winery, 1983. The panel thought so highly of this Barbera it also was accorded a Best of Class honor. A Silver Medal was given to Estrella, 1981.
A Perennial Winner
In an ever dwindling class due to the industry's move to varietals, the California generic Burgundy class lodged only 15 entries from a high of 80 in earlier years. A perennial winner is Best of Class Gold Medal winner Gallo, Hearty Burgundy, Non Vintage. J.F.J. Bronco California Burgundy, Non Vintage, also was awarded a Gold Medal.
Exercise care when purchasing to determine if these wines, which are likely to sell for less than $5, are indeed the 1986 gold medalists. Also try silver medalists I. S. C. Wines, Colony Classic, Burgundy, Non Vintage; Parducci, 1982, and Taylor, California Cellars, Non Vintage.
Gold Medal winners for Merlot are Braren Pauli, Alexander Valley, 1984; Crystal Valley, 1983; Devlin Central Coast, 1983, and Shafer, Napa Valley, 1984. Gold medalist for Petite Sirah is Tijsseling, 1981, and gold medalist for Zinfandel Nouveau is Kendall Jackson, Mendocino, 1985.
For a complete list of all the winners, send $3 for the awards booklet to Wine Department, Los Angeles County Fair Wine Assn., P.O. Box 2250, Pomona, Calif. 91769.