Napa Dominates Winemaker Challenge
Three powerhouse Napa Valley wineries dominated the top awards over the weekend at the ninth annual Winemaker Challenge International Wine Competition in San Diego. The Winemaker Challenge is one of only two U.S. wine competitions judged exclusively by professional winemakers.
V. Sattui was named winery of the year for the second consecutive year by Winemaker Challenge Director Rich Cook. Located in the heart of the Napa Valley between Yountville and Calistoga, the winery produced the wine of the year, a cabernet sauvignon from the historic Morisoli vineyard.
The V. Sattui 2014 cabernet sauvignon, Morisoli vineyard ($95) earned a score of 97 points on the 100-point scale. The V. Sattui 2016 Select Late Harvest riesling, Anderson Valley ($45) won best dessert wine with a score of 96 points.
Overall, V. Sattui took a stunning 40 medals for its 44 wines entered. The total included four platinum awards and 14 golds. V. Sattui is somewhat unique among high-profile Napa Valley wineries, for it eschews nationwide distribution and sells its wines only at the winery or online.
V. Sattui was joined in the winner's circle by two other stellar Napa Valley producers. The 2013 Domaine Carneros by Taittinger Brut, Carneros ($45) took best sparkling wine, and the 2015 Cakebread Cellars reserve chardonnay, Carneros ($56) took best white. Both received a score of 95 points.
The only non-Napa Valley winery to crack the top echelon of best-of-show awards was the 2017 Hart Family Winery rose of sangiovese, Temecula Valley ($23) with a score of 94 points.
Although no foreign wines made the best-of-show list either, the foreign contingent was hardly skunked. The 2016 Heirloom Vineyards shiraz, Barossa, Australia ($40) was the highest-scoring foreign wine and the second-highest-scoring red overall, with a score of 96 points.
The Bolla 2010 Le Origini Amarone della Valpolicella Classico DOC, Italy ($65) was nipping at the heels of the Aussie shiraz with a score of 95 points.
The 1,002 wines entered were most in the nine years of Winemaker Challenge. From that total, only 45 wines earned a platinum award with a score of 94 points or higher. The 18 winemaker judges evaluated the wines in panels of three. All the wines were tasted blind, meaning the name of the producer and the price of the wine were not revealed to the judges until after the results were declared official.
Complete results can be found on the Winemaker Challenge website.