Yesterday, I posted an article on Spain’s results in the recent International Wine Magazine wine challenge. Shortly thereafter, I received an email from a reader who pointed out that this wine challenge was not that well organized – mainly due to the fact that so few French wines won (very few entered) and the Zinfandel that won was from Australia (not that Australia can’t make good Zinfandel). In the end, very few wines were submitted from the US and France. His main point was that it’s hard to say these wines officially won. For the most part, I feel he is right, because the wines that competed were all sent in voluntarily. Thus, the wineries who did not enter did not win. Obviously, lots of wineries fall into this category.
To Quote from the reader:
…Notice the Zin winner is from Australia. Notice the best French red is from Minverois. (Just how few French reds were submitted?!) Notice there is no Best Burg, no Best Bordeaux, no Best Californian, no Best US, etc. Yet so many wines I never heard of won (and the ones I am familiar with are mostly from Spain/Portugal). Do you even think the Spanish winners represent the best Spanish wines?…Mostly it’s the younger wineries or wineries in less prestigious appellations that enter judged wine competitions. These are the wineries just trying to get people to try their wines; those visiting their tasting rooms are more likely to buy if it got a gold medal from, well, anybody. The best or most successful wineries almost never enter competitions as they having nothing to gain and can only stand to lose (i.e., if the judges don’t like their wine/style of wine)….
My goal in posting this was not so much to lend credence to the “wine challenge” but rather to make the point that more people seem to be taking an interest in Spanish wines. While I have seen a lot of sporadic articles on Spanish wines in the US press, and have seen reviews of them in the major wine publications, I still believe that Spanish and Portuguese wines, barring Port and Rioja wines, are still being discovered to most everyday wine drinkers. If someone does try a wine from this competition based on what the results were, most likely it will prompt that person to explore other wines from that region or in that style.
So while competitions are not always the most fair or set up to actually judge all the wines made in the world(an impossible task), I do think they can help to raise awareness. It was also nice to see wines from the same regions judged against each other. The only thing I would like to see with the results would be some kind of tasting note. Even wine scores, either the Parker scale, or the 5 point scale I use, need the addition of tasting to notes to fully explain themselves. Thus a gold medal winner only says that some of the people liked it at the tasting, but not why.
Either way, the competitions will go on and with some responsible reading between the lines I think they can help to, at the least, promote a wine style or region.
I hope with this blog I’m helping too to spread the word.
Till soon, Ryan