San Diego International
April 12 & 13, 2014
Entries are now being accepted for the 31st annual San Diego International, one of the three oldest wine competitions in the nation.
This venerable event is open to commercial wines produced anywhere in the world. All entered wines will be judged blind by a panel of experienced wine professionals assembled by Competition Director Robert Whitley, a wine journalist of more than 20 years whose weekly Wine Talk column is syndicated nationally by the Creators Syndicate of Los Angeles. Robert also is publisher of the online wine publication, Wine Review Online.
The San Diego International benefits the charities of the Social Service Auxiliary (SSA) of San Diego, which supports funding for a youh camp in San Diego. Over the past three decades the SSA has provided thousands of "camperships" for deserving area children.
The San Diego International works closely with the annual Wine & Roses charity wine tasting to raise scholarship money for its many camperships. This year's Wine & Roses will be staged at The Grand Del Mar, California's only 15 Diamond hotel and restaurant property, on June 1, 2014. Winning wines from the San Diego International will be poured at this spectacular event, and cases of medal-winning wines (generously donated by many of the winning wineries) will be auctioned for the benefit of the charity.
Wine & Roses is the oldest continuously running charity wine tasting in San Diego.
NEW THIS YEAR: We will publish scores with all Gold and Platinum award wines!
Enter by mail, email, fax or ENTER ONLINE
Top Five Reasons to Enter
San Diego International Wine Competition
1. Outstanding judges! Our team of wine professionals (winemakers, sommeliers, critics and retailers) was recruited personally by nationally syndicated wine columnist Robert Whitley, who has managed important international wine competitions for more than 20 years. We pride ourselves on choosing judges with a world view and an open mind when it comes to wine evaluation. These guys and gals are very, very sharp!
2. Tremendous exposure! Our website, SDIWC.com, links back to all of the winning wineries from the results page. This is a useful tool for wine consumers and a courtesy to our winning wineries. In addition, the winning wines are posted and linked at WineSearcher.com, one of the world's most heavily trafficked wine websites. We also have a strong social-media presence, with tens of thousands of followers on our multiple twitter accounts. And you can follow Robert Whitley on twitter at @wineguru.
3. Critical evaluation! In addition to the awards you may win, many of the top wines of the competition (those that reach deep into the championship rounds where we vote on Best of Class and Best of Show) are tasted and reviewed by Chief Judge Michael Franz, Editor of Wine Review Online, "Wine Talk" columnist Robert Whitley of the Creators Syndicate, and California Grapevine panelist Rich Cook. The reviews are posted in the weeks following the competition at Wine Review Online, an online wine publication that attracts more than one million visitors a year. And we will publish scores with all Gold medal wines, too!
4. Wine & Roses! Winning wineries will be invited to pour their award-winning wines at the 31st annual Wine & Roses Charity Wine Tasting, our sister event. Wine & Roses will be staged June 1 at The Grand Del Mar, just voted the No. 1 hotel in the U.S. The Grand Del Mar, a resort hotel situated on the northern edge of San Diego, also has been awarded 15 Diamonds by AAA and 15 Stars by Forbes. The Grand Del Mar is a destination for wine lovers, with nearly 30 certified sommeliers on staff. Its signature restaurant, Addison, is the most acclaimed in the region. And many other San Diego restaurants will line up to exhibit their cuisine at Wine & Roses this year, making it the single most scintillating wine and food event in Southern California.
5. Professional certification! Each winning wine will be issued an attractive award certificate that spells out the winery name, the winning wine, vintage, appellation, and any vineyard or proprietary name or reserve designation.
The Wonder of Wine Competitions
Game on. That would be the long race to the end of the wine competition season, which for me concludes with the Sommelier Challenge in September. I'm a true believer.
This year I'm on board for nine competitions; four as Director and five as a judge. Last week I completed the first gig as a judge, heading a panel at the Dallas Morning News/TexSom competition in Dallas. Last month we staged the fifth annual Winemaker Challenge in San Diego, where I am Director.
On my plate in April I have the 31st annual San Diego International (Director) and the Sunset Magazine International (judge). May takes me abroad for the Concours Mondial de Bruxelles in Brussels (judge) and the Wines of Portugal Challenge in Lisbon (judge). June is a busy month as well, with the Critics Challenge (Director and Chief Judge) and the San Francisco International (judge). There is a brief summer break for some much needed R&R before staging the Sommelier Challenge (Director) in September.
Why, other than financial considerations, would I subject myself to the grind? Good question considering the value of a wine competition medal is often the subject of lively debate. I would be the first to say that wine competitions are not for every winery, although most every winery owner and winemaker I know enjoys boasting about their "award-winning" wines.
Tough to make that claim without any awards they can point to. But I realize there are any number of wineries that routinely rack up rave reviews and outstanding scores from the critics, and think of a wine competition medal as unnecessary icing on the cake. Tough to argue otherwise, although I do admire that handful of top-tier wineries that tally the big scores and enter wine competitions anyway, which tells me they truly believe in the quality of the wines they produce. Three renowned Napa Valley wineries – Cakebread, Grgich Hills, Beaulieu and Parallel – come to mind.
After more than 20 years of involvement I remain bullish on wine competitions because I believe they deliver a valuable service. Consumers benefit when they purchase a medal-winning wine because they can draw a measure of comfort from the knowledge that an unbiased panel of wine professionals tasted the wine and issued a stamp of approval. Wineries benefit when they win a medal because it gives them another tool in the task of competing in a challenging market that is critical to their ultimate success.
Making a good wine is relatively easy; selling it, not so much.
On a personal level, wine competitions are an avenue of discovery and keep my palate sharp and my finger on the pulse of winemaking trends. I like to tell the story of one of my first stints as a judge at Concours Mondial.
Concours Mondial is the world's largest wine competition and attracts entries from throughout the world, although it is European-centric. The format for this tasting places a judge alone at a table in a cluster of tables that form one tasting panel. Wines are tasted "blind" and rated on a 100-point scale, using criteria provided by Concours Mondial.
While all wine competitions taste "blind" in the sense that the identity of the producer is withheld from the judges, Concours Mondial takes the concept of "blind" tasting to another level. Judges are given no information about the grape varieties or origin of the wines they are evaluating. Each wine entry is evaluated as a stand-alone product.
During one flight of reds I came across a patch of five consecutive wines that worked out to a gold medal on my score sheet. Five consecutive gold medals might not be unprecedented, but it was for me. Naturally, I was curious to know what the wines were and where they came from.
Concours Mondial has a quaint practice of revealing the wines to each panel at the end of the day, after all wines have been tasted and scores tabulated. As soon as we had finished, I rushed over to the panel chairman to get the list and find out what those glorious reds had been.
Turns out they were AOC Coteaux du Languedoc wines from the sub-appellation of La Clape. Not acquainted with the wines of La Clape, I queried my good friend Stephen Brook, a London-based writer for Decanter well-schooled in the wines of France.
I was informed the La Clape wines were held in high esteem in the United Kingdom because quality was very high and prices were low. That sealed it for me. I had to know more about this subzone that was capable of making such amazing reds.
I made a point on my next trip to France to schedule visits with producers in the region, which sits on a spit of land that juts out into the Mediterranean Sea southwest of Montpelier in the broader region of Languedoc-Roussillon. I learned that the primary grape of La Clape was Syrah, that producers were firmly committed to quality, and that the wines were consistently brilliant over many vintages.
That was many years ago, and since my first visit it has been gratifying to watch La Clape rise to Grand Cru status and finally earn the recognition it so richly deserved.
But for me, the discovery of these great wines and my enduring appreciation began many, many years ago – at a wine competition.
READ MORE ROBERT WHITLEY "WINE TALK" COLUMNS AT CREATORS.COM