The Fresno State Winery 2008 President’s Reserve Classic Chardonnay, produced by enology students at California State University, Fresno, has won a double-gold medal at the 22nd annual Florida State Fair International Wine and Grape Juice Competition.

Fresno State’s 2006 Fasi Vineyard Syrah won a gold medal at the competition held in Tampa by the Florida Grape Growers Association for wines from commercial wineries and from amateurs throughout the world.

Fresno State wines won seven medals at the event, including two silvers and three bronzes along with the two golds. Of 987 entries, only 59 won double gold in judging Feb. 4-6.

Because best of class is not selected, the gold and double golds are best of show, explained Fresno State winemaster Kenneth Fugelsang. A double gold is unanimous agreement among judges. Gold is awarded when a wine enjoys a preponderance of favorable opinion.

“This is a huge accomplishment for our students,” said Fugelsang. “We consider the President’s Reserve to be one of our best wines, and now that has been validated by a distinguished panel of independent judges.”

The President’s Reserve series – a red and a white – was established in 2001 to honor Fresno State President John D. Welty’s support of the viticulture and enology programs. In addition to the Chardonnay, which was bottled in April 2009, there is President’s Reserve Primitivo.

Produced from grapes grown by Duarte Vineyard in San Joaquin County, it features “abundant ripe pear, apple, vanilla and spice flavors that progressively unveil as the wine fans out across the palate,” Fugelsang said.

“Fruit flavors are supported by a buttery and toasty background,” he said. “Our Classic Chardonnay went through a complete malolatic fermentation and eight weeks sur lie in American and French oak barrels.”

The retail price is $15.95.

This is the first gold medal for Fresno State Chardonnay. President’s Reserve Primitivo has won several awards, including two gold medals.

The double gold was presented to Welty by Fugelsang and his enology students.

The 2006 Fasi Vineyard Syrah comes from organically grown Syrah grapes in Madera. “The Fasi Syrah is a wine of superior quality,” Fugelsang said. “Deep color, abundant fruit aromas and subtle oak flavors are all indicative of this wine.

The wine retails for $19.95.

Other medals won at the Florida competition:

  • Silver for 2005 Duarte Vineyard Petite Syrah.
  • Silver for 2006 Solaré.
  • Bronze for 2008 Duarte Vineyard Viognier.
  • Bronze for 2006 Fresno State Vineyards Tempranillo.
  • Bronze for 2006 Duarte Vineyard Zinfandel.

Some of the medal winners will be featured at the ninth annual Fresno State Winemaster’s Weekend on Friday and Saturday, March 5-6, at the Tenaya Lodge at Yosemite, where experts on grapevine grafting and pairing wines with fine chocolate will be featured attractions this year.

The gold-medal winning wines will be poured at Friday evening’s welcome reception.

The Chardonnay also is on the menu for the five-course Winemaster’s Weekend Gala Dinner that culminates the two-day event.

The Chardonnay will be served with lemongrass-accented Thai shrimp skewers. Guests also will appreciate the Tempranillo paired with prosciutto-wrapped, herb-crusted loin of lamb with a fig-Zinfandel sauce. The Solaré will complement a tiramisu dessert course.

For reservations:

Fresno State wines are sold at the Gibson Farm Market at Chestnut and Barstow and at various retail outlets as well as online. The seven medal-winning wines will be featured in the weekly wine-tasting at the Gibson Farm Market noon-4 p.m. Saturday, March 6. Tastings — $3 for three of the wines, $5 for all seven – are available to those 21 and older.

The university’s Department of Viticulture and Enology in the Jordan College of Agricultural Sciences and Technology and the Fresno State Winery have won numerous awards in commercial competition throughout the nation. Students learn their craft at the first fully licensed commercial winery on a United States college campus.

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