Spent the day judging at the Sommelier Wine Awards, which is run by Imbibe magazine. The idea is to award medals to wines that deserve a place on a good wine list. As a result, we judge matched flights of wines ranging in price, and price is a consideration in determining whether the wine goes forward to next week’s medal-awarding stage.
I was with a fun table, and so judging was a pleasure. We kicked off with a rather undistinguished group of New Zealand Sauvignon Blancs (a category that has some real highlights, but also a lot of middle ground), and followed this up with a flight of 14 Rhone whites.
The Rhone whites were really interesting. Scoring out of 20, there was one wine I awarded 19, and a few got 18. An interesting mix of styles, including wines that were obviously Viognier, and those which seemed quite Marsanne dominated. I really enjoyed this flight.
Then some Bordeaux left bank wines in the mid- to high-price range, which were a mixed bag. One was really bretty, and two bottles of another were both corked. But there were also some very fresh, taut young wines with real finesse. With a run of good recent vintages, affordable Bordeaux is getting better, I reckon.
What about southern Italian reds, the next flight? Disappointingly inconsistent. Not enough bright, modern, fruity, inexpensive wines of the sort that Puglia is becoming quite adept at these days. I did enjoy a couple of more expensive Aglianico-like wines (I don’t know that they were; this is just a guess).
Overall, we tasted 70 wines in 4 hours, and that felt about right.