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…
- Best in Show Red (and Best Syrah): 2015 V. Sattui Winery Syrah (Napa Valley, USA, $50) – This spicy, deep, and concentrated little number edged out a field of tough competitors that included some killer Pinots; that a Syrah took top honors is, I think, indicative of the scientifically proven fact [ editor’s note: this is not factual and has never been proven clinically ] that hating on Syrah makes you boring and stupid.
- Best in Show White (and Best Riesling): 2018 Winemaking Tasmania Artisan Riesling (Tasmania, $NA) – Well… I didn’t even pretend not to be relieved that a more marketable grape took top White honors in 2018, after a run of a few, uhm, more obscure varieties garnering the top spot in the last couple of SFIWC results. Perky and focused, this one will be difficult to find but well worth seeking.
- Best in Show Sparkling (and Best Blanc de Noir): NV Gloria Ferrer Caves & Vineyards Blanc de Noir (Carneros, USA $25) – Yes, they basically always win; Yes, they deserve it… and for 2019, maybe we can save time and just forward some medals to them now? Just a thought…
- Best in Show Dessert (and Best Ice Wine): 2017 Inniskillin Niagara Estate Riesling Icewine (Niagara Peninsula, Canada $80, half bottle) – Holy f*ck, this is soooooo good. Look, Canadian Ice Wine is usually a safe bet for those who like their dessert wines to amp up the volume on sweetness, fruit purity, and natural acidity, but when Riesling gets the Great White North Ice Wine treatment, something magical happens… floral, candied, lip-smacking, succulent magic…
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