Category Archives: Judging

Listen Here! The KGO Interview from February 8th.

Here is a quick and easy way to listen to my short discussion on KGO 810AM at 5:30pm with Chip Franklin from February 8th!  Just kick back with cup of something warm and your device now to hear about the 2018 San Francisco Chronicle Competition results.

Cheers! Christopher

February 8th: Sawyer Radio-rama on KGO & KXSF!

I will be making the rounds via airwaves to discuss the results of the 2018 San Francisco Chronicle Competition.  So on Thursday February 8th, set your tuner for the following:

  • KGO 810AM at 5:30pm with Chip Franklin
  • KXSF (SFCR) 102.5 FM at 7pm with Steve King
  • Or follow the links to listen online

To followup, the list of big winners will be posted in the Sunday issue of the San Francisco Chronicle on Feb 11 and the Grand Tasting of the winners will happen on Sunday, Feb 18.  It is a great Valentine Day Weekend gift idea! Info is available at

Results! 11th annual American Fine Wine Competition

As some of you may know already, I spent the middle of January in the balmy climes of Miami.  It is a ritual these past few years to participate in judging at the American Fine Wine Competition.  Lucky for you as well that I have some splendid results for your perusal.  This is a partial list, but you can check the  AFWC website for final results in the next few days.

The 2018 Top Awards


Selfie with Carol Shelton, who won the best Red Wine at the AFWC!

Sparkling Wine
Domaine Carneros 2011 Le Reve, Carneros ($110)

White Wine
Fox Run Vineyards 2015 Riesling, Finger Lakes ($18)

Red Wine
Carol Shelton Wines 2013 Petite Sirah “Florence”, Dry Creek ($40)

Sweet/Dessert Wine
Ferrante Winery Vidal Blanc Ice Wine, Ohio 2016 ($30)


Sauvignon Blanc: TIE!
Hoopes Family Vineyard 2016 $35
and Kelleher Family Vineyard 2016 $34

Chardonnay: Eleven Eleven Wines 2015 $95

Dry Rosé: Shadowbox Cellars 2016 $35

Pinot Noir: Mi Sueno Winery 2013 $55

Zinfandel: Brown Estate Chiles Valley 2015 $55

Cabernet Franc: Detert Family Vineyards 2015 $95

Merlot: Muscardini Cellars 2015 $60

Syrah: Klinker Brick “Farrah” 2014 $65

Red Bordeaux-style Blend: Ahnfeldt Wines “Quid Pro Quo” 2015 $59

Cabernet Sauvignon: Frank Family Vineyards Rutherford Reserve 2015 $95

Other Red Single Varietal: VIE Winery “L’Intruse” Mourvedre 2014 $45

Grenache VIE Winery “L’Imaginaire” 2014 $45

Other White Single Varietal: Reustle-Prayer Rock Vyds, Gruner Veltliner “Smaragd” 2015 $25

Other Red Blend: Buena Vista “The Sheriff” 2016 $40

Hanging with my judging crew!

Harvest Fair: The Judgement in Santa Rosa!

Fresh off the Harvest Fair judging this week, an amazing day of twenty different varieties in multiple forms that showcase the diversity of what Sonoma County has to offer; White wines from Albariño, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris and Muscat; Red wines from Old Vine Zinfandel, Tannat, Syrah, Grenache and individual bottles of Alicante Bousche. An amazing experience and team effort by the 21 judges present!

Check for our results in today’s Press Democrat (September 24th) and get your Harvest Fair tickets to try all the winning wine and food on October 6-8 at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds.


Catch the California State Fair: July 14-30

Earlier this year I participated in a judging of over two thousand wines for the California State Fair! Here is the entire California Commercial Wine Competition Results for you to peruse. You also might make those plans to hit the big event starting this Friday July 14th in Sacramento. If not there are other more local fair opportunities to hit all summer long!

North Coast Wine & Food Festival on June 10th

I participated as a judge back in April, now here is your opportunity to taste the best wines from the North Coast American Viticulture Areas (AVA).  These are wines that achieve both a Gold Medal status and 90+ points in The Press Democrat North Coast Wine Competition.  The North Coast AVA consists of wines made from grapes grown in Napa, Lake, Marin, Mendocino, Solano and Sonoma counties. The winning wines are selected by prestigious judges in a blind taste test.  Mark your calendar for June 10th and get your North Coast Wine & Food Festival tickets soon!

Judging at Concours Mondial in Spain 2017!

Just finished this amazing competition in the spectacular city of Valladolid, Spain and on the way home now. Concours Mondial de Bruxelles is the only touring competition in the world: Next year? China!

This year over 9080 wines from 50 countries competed for a Silver, Gold, and Grand Gold Medals. Two new categories, for old vintage and organic wines, were introduced this year.

Check out the 2017 Concours Mondial results next week at:

Epic view from the Penafiel Castle we visited in the famous winegrowing area of Ribera del Duero D.O., which is an hour away the provincial city of Valladolid, where we are staying in the Castilla y Lyon region of Spain.
Epic view from the Penafiel Castle we visited in the famous winegrowing area of Ribera del Duero D.O., which is an hour away the provincial city of Valladolid, where we are staying in the Castilla y Lyon region of Spain.
#SawyerSelfieDeluxe with my fellow American wine judges at the Concours Mondail de Bruxelles International Wine Competition (from left): Master Sommelier Robin O'Conner; Wine Business Monthly Assistant Editor Eric Kirschenmann; Wine Guru/Sommelier Charlie Arturaola of Grappolo Blu, Inc; Mike DeSimone and Jeff Jenssen of the Wine Enthusiast/World Wine Guys.
#SawyerSelfieDeluxe with my fellow American wine judges at the Concours Mondail de Bruxelles International Wine Competition (from left): Master Sommelier Robin O’Conner; Wine Business Monthly Assistant Editor Eric Kirschenmann; Wine Guru/Sommelier Charlie Arturaola of Grappolo Blu, Inc; Mike DeSimone and Jeff Jenssen of the Wine Enthusiast/World Wine Guys.

Rosé Today & Everyday!

Take a moment to peruse this press release of the winners for Rosé Today for which I participated as a judge.  You can also read up on the fabulous varietal in this article I am featured in, U.S. Producers Betting on Rosé and Challenging French Dominance published by the Wine Industry Advisor.

Heads up as well about the Rosé Today Country Garden Party to taste some of the winners on Saturday, June 17th from 11-4 at Jaxon Keys Winery & Distillery in Hopland.

Press Release:

Healdsburg, CA – Friday, March 24, 2017 —Announcing Rosé Today 2017 Competition Winners of its 2017 Competition held at Soda Rock Winery on March 22, 2017. Rosé Today’s Wine Director Bob Ecker conducted the double-blind competition judged by nine preeminent judges which included Sean Brosnihan, Francois Cordesse, Debra Del Fiorentino, Rick Farga, Denise Gill, Teejay Lowe, Lucio Matricardi, Ph.D, Christopher Sawyer, and Leslie Sbrocco. On behalf of the entire staff of Rosé Today, producers Craig Palmer and Allen Habel extend their thanks to all competition entries and their heartiest congratulations to all these exceptional winners.

Taking home Best of Show, Best of Class and Double Gold in Domestic Sparkling, for the second year in a row is Gloria Ferrer 2013 Brut Rosé.

Best of Class (with Double Gold) are awarded to: Bonterra Organic Vineyards 2016 Rosé, Domestic Dry; Mezzacorona 2016 Rosato, International Dry; Veuve Ambal NV Marie Ambal Brut Rosé, International Sparkling; and Pratsch 2016 Rosé, International Sweet; Del Rio Vineyards NV Rose Jolee, Domestic Sweet.

Double Gold awardees include: Ascension Cellars 2016 “Siren” Rosé, Benziger Family Winery 2016 Rosé, Fleur 2016 Pinot Noir Rosé, Chateau D’Esclans Whispering Angel Rosé 2016, Darkhorse 2015 Rosé, Ferrari-Carrano Lazy Creek Vineyards 2016 Rosé of Pinot Noir, Sassoferrato 2016 Rosé, Lawer Estates 2016 Rosé, Luis Felipe Edwards Loma Negra 2016 Rosé, Luis Felip Edwards Autoritas 2016 Rosé, LXV 2016 Sangiovese Rosé, Proulx 2016 Grenache Rosé, Sonoma-Cutrer 2016 Rosé of Pinot Noir, St. Anne’s Crossing Winery 2016 Rose of Zinfandel, Santa Rita Limited Release Rosé 2016, and Wollersheim Winery 2016 Prairie Blush.

Gold recipients are: Apriori 2016 Rosé, Locations NV F Rosé, Collection des Anges 2016 Rosé, Six Degrees 2016 Rosé, Phillips Dublanc NV Brut Rosé Sparkling, Cache Creek Vineyards 2016 Rosé, Chacewater 2016 Rosé, Clos LaChance 2016 Colibri, D’Alfonso-Curran Curran 2016 Rosé, Del Rio Vineyards 2016 Rosé, Domaine de Baccari 2015 Cinsault and Grenache, Domaine Serene NV “r” Rosé IX, Due Ruscelli 2016 Rosé, Ferrai-Carano 2016 Dry Sangiovese Rosé, Fess Parker 2016 Pinot Noir, Greenwood Ridge Vineyards 2016 Rosé, Black Ink 2015 Rosé, Fleur 2016 Rosé, Handley Cellars 2015 Pinot Rosé, J. Rickards Winery 2016 Rosé, King Estate Winery 2016 Rosé of Pinot Noir, Kobler Estate Winery 2016 Rosé of Pinot Noir, Dazzle Cellars 2016 Julia’s Dazzle Rosé, Matrix Winery 2016 Rosé of Pinot Noir, McCay Cellars 2015 Reserve Rosé, McPherson Cellars 2016 Les Copains Rosé, Pennyroyal Farm 2015 Pinot Noir Rosé, Peltier Winery Black Diamond 2016 Rosé, Soda Rock 2016 Rosé, St. Francis 2016 Rosé, Terra d’Oro 2016 Rosé, Coeur Clementine 2016 Rosé, Veuve Ambal NV Brut Rosé, Rivarose 2016 Brut Rosé, Wakefield/Taylors 2016 Pinot Noir Rosé, Abbazia NV Moscato Rosé, and Vinum Cellars 2016 Rosé.

Read the complete list here!

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 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

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.”

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: