This past weekend I got to put my wine tasting experiences to work and partake in something very special. I made the drive up through the Finger Lakes region of New York to Rochester where I was a judge in the 2016 Finger Lakes International Wine Competition #FLIWC! The Finger Lakes are of course famous for their excellent cool climate wines including Fox Run Vineyards and and many others. A good portion of the region’s wineries are represented in the competition, but entries from all over the country (all 50 states are represented) and the world (26 countries) are drawn. Over 3,800 wines in total to be tasted and rated by 73 qualified judges. The judges have diverse backgrounds and hail from 20 different countries. There are winemakers, wine writers, MW’s, sommeliers, buyers and more. The judges in my panel were very professional. One was from Canada, one from the Czech Republic and another from Ohio.
It was my 3rd time serving as a judge and this year was a great experience as always! Of course, all of the wines are blind-judged to eliminate any bias, so we had no knowledge of the wine’s brand or winery while judging. Each flight of wines were brought out in Riedel crystal stemware and we shared our thoughts and deliberated on a score. It’s always a fun exchange of ideas discussing each wine. As always there were some excellent wines and some not so excellent wines. Another unique aspect to this particular competition is that it draws more Ice Wine entries than any other competition. I got lucky this year and in addition to judging our flight of sweet, syrupy ice wines, our panel was chosen to judge the Ice Wine finals. We had to narrow down the field of 14 succulent sippers to one Best Of Category. Not so easy, but lots of fun. There were several Vidals, a couple of Rieslings, a couple of Cabernet Francs (makes a lush, cherry-tinged Ice Wine) and some blends. In the end a delectable Vidal won out. Check the results on the FLIWC web page to see which one it was!