It’s Wine Competition Season

I am quite ambivalent about commercial wine competitions. In the best of circumstances they can be a bit of a crap shoot. You don’t want to be the first wine that the judging panels samples (they aren’t going to give a gold medal to the first wine they taste), and if you are in a really large category, like Chardonnay, where there might be 100 entries, you definitely don’t want to be the last one judged (how do you still taste a wine after about 15 or 20?). That being said, they do have a utility. Commercial wine competitions are expensive to enter, so I don’t generally enter very many wines, only the ones that I think will do very well, and allow me to gauge how my skills are developing. The California State Fair Commercial Wine Competition is the best known, the Orange County Fair competition is the largest, the San Francisco Chronicle is the most prestigious. Of the hundreds of wine competitions in America, these are the only three I enter regularly. The SF Chron is my favorite, mainly because they don’t allow winemakers on the judging panels. This may seem counter-intuitive; it is not. Winemakers have a tendency to be myopic. They know what they do, they like what they do, their scope can be somewhat limited. This can be problematic when your focus is obscure varietals that many, if not most, California winemakers have never even heard of. Wine writers, bloggers, critics, sommeliers on the other hand, tend to have a much broader wine experience. For this reason, my wines always do better at competitions like the San Francisco Chronicle competition. Which seques me to the 2018 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition:

Montoliva 2015 Negroamaro – Silver Medal
Montoliva 2015 Dolcetto – Double Gold
Montoliva 2014 Aglianico – Best of Class

I am particularly pleased with the Double Gold for our current Dolcetto. This is awarded when all five judges on the panel agree that the wine they are sampling is superior. Any idea how hard it is to get five wine critics to agree on anything?! Double Golds aren’t awarded very often. I thought the Negroamaro deserved a better score, there’s my ambivalence towards competitions. Sometimes you just can’t account for taste. Cheers, Mark

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