Posts Filed Under wine industry events

“Sweet Lincoln’s Mullet!” (2019 San Diego International Wine & Spirits Challenge Highlights)

I recently had the honor of judging at the 2019 San Diego International Wine & Spirits Challenge (now in its 37th year!), the results of which have been published, allowing me to share some of my thoughts on a few surprises that my panel had the good fortune of tasting during the competition. When I wasn’t feeding errant seagulls who begged at my hotel room window, that is. It’s a long story.

Sweet Lincoln's Mullet!

Anyway, seasoned 1WD readers will recall that I’ve been infecting the Stay-Classy-San-Diego-based Critics Challenge competition for the last few years, but this was my first time joining much of the same well-heeled, finely-tuned crew for the SD Challenge. I’m happy to report that the SD incarnation is every bit as fun and professionally-executed as CC, and I’m already crossing my fingers that I’ll be back next year. [ By the way, if you’re curious about how the details on these competitions go down, listen to head honcho Robert Whitley dish on it over at the Wine Biz 360 podcast. ]

Sky sea-rat
Who got somethin’ for Deebo?!?

One of the most interesting – and fun… and humbling – things about judging wines blind is that occasionally some items surprise you, busting up your preconceived notions and turning you on to things you might otherwise overlook. The 2019 SD Challenge proved particularly generous in that regard. Here are a handful of vinous items that impressed my panel (Platinum medal winners all), the majority of which are over-achieving budget lovelies, tailor-made for Spring sipping by the San Diego seaside in a manner that would make Ron Burgundy himself beam with pride. Okay, before we start, let’s go over the ground-rules… No touching of the hair or face… And that’s it. Now FIGHT!…

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Lunga Vita Alla Rivoluzione! (Highlights From The 2016 Asti Barbera Revolution Tasting)

During my recent travels in Piedmont, I was part of a (rather large) media group that took part in a “Barbera Revolution” masterclass, held in the small town of Nizza Monferrato, organized by the Consorzio Barbera d’Asti e vini del Monferrato. There was nothing about that tasting of 2016 vintage releases to make me personally think that Barbera was undergoing some sort of quality revolution; likely a result of the fact that, given my history with the region, I was already convinced that Barbera in Asti was experiencing a quality renaissance.

So, no arms were taken up during the sampling of these 2016, but we did take up several glasses of promising Asti reds. Now that my stint with the My Name is Barbera program has wrapped up (for now, anyway), I felt comfy in taking a more critical eye on some of the latest Barbera d’Asti releases (not that you can ever fully take the critical eye from the critical guy, but I’ve generally avoided talking about Piedmonte Barbera here on 1WD while I was cashing checks for the video and blog work over at mynameisbarbera.com).

Here are my personal highlights from the tasting, many of which I think have been given short shrift from other critics in the past, and others that might be looking for US representation (importers… I’m looking at you!)…

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Smoke Gets In Your… Sinuses (San Francisco International Wine Competition 2018 Results)

Vinted on January 9, 2019 binned in on the road, wine industry events
Have lab coat, will judge (at the 2018 SFIWC)

Late last year, I had the pleasure (once again) of pretending to be an all-growed-up wine pro judging alongside some very notable palates at the 38th annual San Francisco International Wine Competition.

Judging the SFIWC almost always ends up being one of my favorite events of the entire year, and despite quite a bit of behind-the-scenes personnel changes, the competition didn’t skip a beat; I had a blast, with the only downer being the inundation of the city streets by the ominous smoke from the nearby Camp Fire (terribly, California’s deadliest and most destructive to date).

The results of the 2018 SFIWC have been announced, so I am officially allowed to share them with you. Here are some thoughts on the Best In Show winners, which are determined after going through 1) two days of normal judging panels, 2) “super tastings” of judges from multiple panels (meant to whittle down the field of wines deemed excellent enough to potentially vie for Best In Show ), and finally 3) a lively and spirited sweepstakes round in which the the most awarded wines are pitted against one another…

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Oregon Wine Experience 2018 Competition – Results

Vinted on August 30, 2018 binned in on the road, wine industry events

Oregon wine experience 2018 best of show round

Getting serious during the OWE 2018 Best of Show judging round

The results of the 2018 Oregon Wine Experience Competition are in and have recently been announced, and since I was more-or-less directly responsible for said results, I thought that I’d share some of them with you all here.

Before I do, however… a couple of thoughts/insights/dime-store-philosphocal-treatise on the experience of the OW Experience:

  • Wildfires suck; we hardly saw a clear, smoke-free day during the competition, and while the ever-present used-fireplace smell is somewhat pleasant, the destruction behind it all certainly isn’t anything short of tragic, and major props are due to the firefighters who shared my flights into and out of Medford for their difficult, tireless work in fighting the recent blazes.
  • There’s (much) more to Oregon than Willamette Valley. Duh. Southern Oregon is a lot smaller in volume, less developed in both land and sense of place, warmer in climate, and diverse in potential vinous offerings than its more famous northern wine AVA siblings. What should have wine geeks excited and giddy is that the premium fine wine scene in S. OR is really just getting its groove on, and the results are ridiculously promising already. The fact that the region is probably among the top ten most beautiful wine country settings in the world is just icing on the cake. To wit…
  • You’ll see a lot more coverage of some key S. OR producers here over the coming weeks, because I found their stories – and their development in wine quality – quite compelling. More to come.

Southern OR vineyard view 1

Anyway, here are some of the wines that wowed our judging panels at the 2018 OWE Competition…

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