Judging at the Sommelier Wine Awards

sommelier wine awards

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.

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