Category Archives: Judging

10th Annual American Fine Wine Invitational Judging Results!

Announcing the judging results from my trip to Miami over MLK weekend for The American Fine Wine Invitational (AFWI)!  This year 850 wines from 230 wineries were included.

The event took place  January 15 & 16 at FIU’s Chaplin School of Hospitality & Tourism Management. The AFWI is the most exclusive, top tier, all-American Wine Invitational in the world, and it takes place in our back yard. Over the course of two full days, 24 judges tasted and awarded medals to the invited wines. Here are the top winners:

BEST OF SHOW

Best of Show Red –
’13 Baldacci Family, Cabernet Sauvignon “Ruppert”, Napa $125

Best of Show White
’15 Chehalem Vineyards, Gruner Veltliner, Ribbon Ridge, OR $24

Best of Show Sparkling
NV Mumm Napa, “Santana” Brut, Napa (also Best Of in 2015) $50

Best of Show Dessert Wine
’11 John Anthony Vyds Late Harvest Sauvignon Blanc, Napa $65


All of the wines entered into the judging will be available for tasting at the highly anticipated 10th annual AFWI Charity Wine Gala being hosted this year at the DCOTA, and taking place on April 29th. The Gala includes a “Sparkling” reception, The Wine Walk, a magnificent wine-centric dinner, during which, the award winning wines will be poured by the AFWI “Wine Angels”, and The Winemaker of the Year Awards. There will be a live auction, a silent auction and a “Premium” wine auction, as well as live entertainment and the opportunity to dine with your favorite Dolphin player all while raising money to support The Dolphins Cancer Challenge.

More information available at www.americanfinewinecompetition.org

Glorious Bites Challenge elicits delicious food & photos!

gbites2Gloria Ferrer Caves & Vineyards hosted the 2nd annual “Glorious Bites Challenge” this weekend, where three other judges and I selected Chera Little of Leander, Texas, as the 2016 winner, earning her bragging rights, a custom glass trophy and a check for $5000.  Her Miso-Maple Glazed Cod Wonton-Cho’s with Crispy Bok Choy Slaw has been deemed this year’s most glorious appetizer recipe in the country to pair with Gloria Ferrer’s sparkling Sonoma Brut. Little, who lost her husband just three months ago to brain cancer, said he encouraged her to enter the competition.  “My late husband was my biggest cheerleader.  He loved won tons, he loved cream cheese and he loved fish. This dish was inspired by him,” said Little.   “I am very excited and very humbled.  This has been an incredible experience. ”

Out of more than 1800 entries from 44 states, Little’s recipe rose to the forefront, bringing her to the semi-finals and ultimately to the winner’s circle at the final cook-off at Gloria Ferrer Winery on Saturday.   The judges unanimously enjoyed her recipe.

Joel Riddel, myself and Sara Deseran while Judging the Gloria Ferrer Glorious Bites.
Joel Riddel, myself and Sara Deseran while Judging the Gloria Ferrer Glorious Bites.

“I just loved the way the miso married so well with the Gloria Ferrer Sonoma Brut,” said award-winning radio show Host and Producer Joel Riddell.

“I definitely thought it was the most complex dish. There were so many layers of flavors.  Every bite stood out and different elements played nicely with the wine,” said Sommelier, Wine Educator and Journalist Christopher Sawyer.

(Photos above: Three delicious entries and a bit of “ham” with colleagues Joel Riddell and Leslie Sbrocco.)

“I think we all agreed that this dish was really beautiful to look at and beautiful to taste.  It had it all the elements going on – bitter, salty, sweet—just a great dish,” according to Sara Deseran, Food Writer and Editor-at-Large for San Francisco magazine.

“Having tasted all the dishes previously at the semi-finals, I had no idea who would win today,” said Jennifer Luttrell, Keynote Glorious Bites Judge and Executive Chef for Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese Company.  “It was really tough to choose, but Chera’s dish had really bright layers of flavors and complexity and, most of all, it was delicious with the Sonoma Brut.”

gbites5
Won tons stuffed by Diane Williams of Auburn, CA with Beef, Blue Cheese and Bacon.

All finalists’ appetizers were judged on originality, taste and ability to pair with the Gloria Ferrer Sonoma Brut.  During the competition, the more than 200 guests in attendance were entertained by TV Host, Wine Expert and Author Leslie Sbrocco, known for her appearances on NBC’s The Today Show and as the host of Check Please! Bay Area and her newest show Taste This.  Attendees also voted on their favorite appetizer from among the four finalists.  Taking home the popular vote, or the “Pop Award,” was Diane Williams of Auburn, California, for her Triple “B” Won Tons with Beef, Blue Cheese and Bacon.

All recipes from the 2016 finalists are available for download from the Glorious Bites website: www.gloriousbites.com 

San Francisco International Wine Competition 2016: Exciting Results!

The results are in! Check out the wines that won at SFIWC 2016 this year. Also, enjoy a few pics from my days judging at Hotel Nikko while you are at it. Cheers! Christopher

Pink Out! The start of a colorful flight of Rosé on Day 1;  (clockwise from left); Taking a break with my fellow judges, wine guru Jeffery Stivers and New Orleans-based wine and spirits radio personality Tim McNally; #StrengthInNumbers: Selfie Deluxe with my fellow judges sommelier Eduardo Dingler of Morimoto Napa; wine educator Ian Blackburn of LA-based WineCloudInc; sommelier Tonya Pitts of One Market SF, author, wine personality and star of Check Please Bay Area Leslie Sbracco, and author, sommelier and proprietor of A16 and RN74 in SF, Shelley Lindgren; The magnificent menu for the Judges Dinner at Hotel Nikko International, with dazzling wines provided by Gloria Ferrer and Jaimeson Ranch wineries.

2016 North Coast Wine Challenge Results!

The fabulous panels for the 2016 North Coast Wine Challenge.
The fabulous panels for the 2016 North Coast Wine Challenge.

Spectacular finish to the North Coast Wine Challenge with some of the finest wine judges in America. Our team sent the top red & white wine winners to the final round and the 2012, 2013 & 2014 vintages were brilliant.

Enjoying the fabulous Judges Dinner at MacMurray Ranch in Russian River Valley.
Enjoying the fabulous Judges Dinner at MacMurray Ranch in Russian River Valley.
My fellow judges and two of my favorite people in the wine industry: Traci Dutton, Manager of Wine & Beverage Studies at the Rudd Center at the Culinary Institute of America Greystone, and Master Sommelier Fred Dame.
My fellow judges and two of my favorite people in the wine industry: Traci Dutton, Manager of Wine & Beverage Studies at the Rudd Center at the Culinary Institute of America Greystone, and Master Sommelier Fred Dame.

The big winners have been published in the Press Democrat in this article by Diane Peterson:

Find the entire winners’ list is HERE!
Cheers! Christopher

 

Welcome to Wine Judges Corner!

winejudges-300x180Wine Channel TV has a new digital online wine lifestyle community called Wine Judges Corner dedicated to wine competitions, award-winning wines and wine judges!

Not only does the site provide extensive competition information for both past and future events, but it also offers the inside scoop from competition organizers, exclusive interviews with renowned judges and extensive wine reviews by experts in the field.

Start your exploration by reading up on yours truly,
follow that up with details about the site!

Wine Judge Christopher Sawyer

Pizza prizes and plentiful posts! Saturday, March 26th

Follow my social media this weekend for updates from Sebastiani’s pizza16bPizza My Way Contest™.   Participants entered their homemade pizza recipe and will be competing for the $10,000 Grand Prize!

The event is sold out, but I will be sharing posts on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter of the best pizza and wine pairings done by me and my fellow judges Tony Gemignani of Tony’s Pizza Napoletana in SF, Tony’s of North Beach at the Graton Casino, and author of The Pizza Bible by Ten Speed Press; Sondra Bernstein, proprietor of girl & the fig restaurant in Sonoma; and Chef Carlo Cavali of Burgers & Vine in Sonoma.

Also look for my posts of recipes to try at home!
Christopher

Fun selfie of me and Pizza King Tony Gemignani taken at Flavor Napa Valley. This week, Tony and I will be judging the Pizza My Way event at Sebastiani Winery in Sonoma.
Fun selfie of me and Pizza King Tony Gemignani taken at Flavor Napa Valley. This week, Tony and I will be judging the Pizza My Way event at Sebastiani Winery in Sonoma.

SF Chronicle Public Tasting this Saturday Feb 13th!

The San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition is the largest competition of American wines in the world!  This Saturday, February 13,  is the chronicle22016 Public Tasting at Fort Mason Center, San Francisco.

Now in its 16th year and with more than 6,000 entries, thousands of wine lovers experience award-winning wines paired with delicious food, while top, professional wine judges have the challenging task of selecting the finest wines from a crowded field of varietals in various categories.

Join me and the other judges to learn more about delicious wine and fine food.  Get your Tickets online now!

Action shot: With my judging team of Kent Rosenblum and Victoria Wilson getting ready for the next round with a little gift from the SF Chronicle staff and Gloria Ferrer!
Action shot: With my judging team of Kent Rosenblum and Victoria Wilson getting ready for the next round with a little gift from the SF Chronicle staff and Gloria Ferrer!

KGO spot on Ryan Scott show, Sat Jan 30th, to discuss SFCWC results

The countdown to Valentine’s Day is on! This Saturday, January 30th, listen to KGO Radio 810 AM from 5-6 pm to hear the live broadcast of foodie Ryan Scott and I discussing the exciting results of the 7,200 wines that were judged at the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition, aphrodisiac food pairings with gold medal winning wines, and what to expect at the upcoming SFCWC Public Tasting at Fort Mason on February 13th.

For more information about the “Cooking with Ryan Scott” show visit www.kgoradio.com and for tickets to the Public Tasting visit www.winejudging.com.  And don’t forget to look for the special spread focused on the top medal winners in the San Francisco Chronicle on Super Bowl Sunday, February 7th.
KGO

The SawyerSomm.com 2016 Calendar is UP!

My resolution for 2016, to share a calendar of my upcoming adventures that may be investigated by my readers: This is a way for you to anticipate upcoming events that might be of interest, and maybe even join in the fun!

The Calendar Page is here on my site, among the tabs at the top right, and will be updated periodically as new plans are made, so hope to be seeing you in this exciting new year.

Cheers!  Christopher

Ready for action at MacMurry Ranch for Taste of Sonoma, a few years back.
Ready for action at MacMurry Ranch for Taste of Sonoma, a few years back.