Western Living Magazine
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DotY 2022: Our Judges for the Maker Category Can’t Wait to See What You’ve Got
Both were white, both phenom.
Sperling Old Vines Riesling 2015 $35
For the most part wine awards are a bit of a racket. Many of them (hell, most of them) make money by entry fees. You pay X dollars for every bottle you enter. And if you enter 10 wines, then they make 10x as much. But wineries have no interest in continuing to give their money to awards that shun their wares, so there started to be a medal creep. Just like elementary school sports day today…everyone gets a medal. That means that although once upon a time being awarded a bronze meant you we’re on on the right track, now it often means you simply paid the entry fee. And whereas once gold was king, now double gold, platinum and double platinum are options. Have the wines gotten that much better. Uhm, not really.
Now I want to be clear. Not all wine competitions are like this. And even more importantly I’m in no way suggesting the judges are somehow in cahoots. At properly run awards they continue to taste blind and use their expertise to grade wine to an exceptionally high standard. It’s just that even the wines they don’t favour end up getting some recognition, because that’s the game.
All of which is a long-winded and self-indulgent way of saying the Decanter World Wine Awards is not like that. Its panel of judges is the very best in the business. It’s a 280-person who’s who of the wine world with a crazy number of them sporting either their Master Sommelier or Master’s of Wine designation. And while it’s a bit British heavy—Decanter is based in London after all—it does feature four of BC’s greatest wine minds: Barbara Philip, Treve Ring, Rhys Pender and Michaela Morris. And while the awards have started “commending” wines that they give 83 point scores to, they are, as a group, hard assess. How hard? Remember that hullabaloo a few weeks back when the Chardonnay from Checkmate got a perfect 100 points? The Decanter gang gave it 86 points (it was a different vintage, but still). When you get a Gold Medal from them you have made a wine that is something truly special.
These wines are truly special. Sperling is one of those wineries that everyone in the industry has a crush on. It has history () it has a legendary winemaker in Ann Sperling an it hs the oldest riesling vines in the Province.