Hatfield Creek Vineyards & Winery, Ramona Valley, California
Judging Wine

Judging Wine

Blog 🕔September 22, 2010

A paper written some time ago by our friend Lum Eisenman on Judging Wine, talks about the consumer oriented competitions and the Davis 20-point system to judge wine – originally devised to expedite bulk-wine transfers between wineries (like quality transferred for like quality).

Lum goes on to say that consumers, including judges are influenced by many factors including the name of the producer, the vineyard location, the price of the wine, etc.  The only credible way of establishing wine quality is to taste and judge wines blind. The term “blind” indicates the judges know the types of wine being judged, but they know little else about it.  The judges never see the wines labels or corks, since the bottles are placed and secured in paper bags, and the corks are removed prior to judging.

Norm relates a story he read recently, about 6 red wines of the same variety and all costing the same amount that were each placed in their own brown paper bag.  A different price was written on the outside of each bag, ranging from $6 to $60.  The judging resulted in the $60 wine being found best.  They actually were all Charles Shaw (aka Two Buck Chuck) at $1.99 a bottle.

The Ramona Valley Vineyard Association holds an annual wine competition, with the main requirement being the grapes in the bottle must come from the Ramona Valley AVA.  The main intent of this competition is to encourage excellence in grape growing and the production of premium wines made from our valley’s grapes. 

One of the contestants from the 2010 competition, Sandy Mubarack of Old Coach Vineyards, http://www.oldcoachvineyards.com/  urges wine makers, “Don’t be afraid to enter.  The best thing is the education.”  In our local competition the judges are generous with their critiques, letting entrants know their impressions of sight, nose, taste and follow through, gained through their “blind” tasting.

Our friend Mike Schnell of Hawk Watch Winery near Warner Springs was a bit distainful of all the competitions and the hoops to go through to enter them.  He claimed he was just making the best damned wine he could and he didn’t care about medals.  Until he came back last month with a Double Gold Medal for their 2007 Syrah.  http://www.hawkwatchwinery.com/

We think we’ll work up the courage to enter our 2009 Petite Sirah next year.  Of course we need to get bottles,corks and labels, and a bottling machine before then, since the vintage is still in carboys.

Cheers,
Elaine