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Sommelier Judges Find Greatness Across the Price Spectrum; Record Number of Platinum-Winning Wines 


San Diego, Calif. (October 11, 2023) – The 16th Annual Sommelier Challenge Wine & Spirits Competition, held September 22-23 in San Diego, proved once again that blind tastings can be great equalizers. This year’s panel of sommelier judges awarded over 700 medals, selecting a record-setting 86 wines, priced from $6.99 to $275.00, as worthy of the competition’s top award – Platinum. 

At the upper end of the scale, the 2019 Miguel Caratachea Cabernet Sauvignon “Venerable Vines” from Napa Valley took Domestic Wine of the Year with a score of 98 points ($275.00). Wakefield/Taylor’s 2019 Shiraz “The Pioneer” from Clare Valley, Australia (also 98 points, $200) nabbed Import Wine of the Year accolades. 

As any good sommelier will tell you, one of the fun parts of the job is being able to recommend great wines that won’t break the bank. The 2022 Navarro Vineyards Pinot Gris from Anderson Valley fits the bill, taking Best of Show White Wine and at the modest price of $22.00. 

Top awards in the spirits judging followed suit, with winners running the price gamut. Spirit of the Year honors went to Kavo Greek Island Asimi Rum (yes, Greek Rum!) at $28.99. Other class winners included New Amsterdam No. 525 Vodka (Best Vodka) at $15.00 and Cierto Tequila Reserve Collection Extra Añejo (Best Tequila) at $289.00. 

Sommelier Challenge International Wine & Spirits Competition attracts entries from across the globe. This unique and prestigious tasting is 100% judged in a double-blind format by certified sommeliers – some of the most respected palates in the industry. Partial sponsors of the event are WineReviewOnline.com, with over 1.2 million visitors, and SpiritsReviewOnline.com, where Platinum award winners receive full reviews in the weeks following the competition. Sommelier Challenge was founded in 2007 by wine writer Robert Whitley and is part of the Challenge Series of international wine and spirits competitions that includes San Diego Int’l Wine & Spirits Challenge (formerly San Diego Wine Competition), Winemaker Challenge, Distillers Challenge, and Critics Challenge. 

For a complete list of Sommelier Challenge award winners, go to SommelierChallenge.com.



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