The answer of my esteemed Italian colleague is yes, undoubtedly, as you can read HERE.
My answer is, well, a little bit more contrasted. Although I have taken part in a lot of these competitions, and still do for some, I tend to have become more discerning these last few years.
And my choice of events is often based more on the people I am judging with than on the products I judge, especially as I usually don’t now what I judge (an exception to this rule being competitions organised for a special grape or region).
I tried to leave a comment on Daniele’s site, but the watchrobot there did not allow me to, so I decided to publish it here.
Aren’t you a little embarrassed when one of these competitions in which you take part gives an award to the « Best white wine of the world », based on the best marks of all the different juries? Which means that you, as a judge, may well be said to have awarded a medal to a wine that you and your jury have never tasted.
And is it not a problem for you that a lot of the best producers never enter bottles in these competitions, because they have nothing to gain? And that so, what you are left with is only second best wines? I remember tasting Burgundy wines at such a competition and asking myself, how is it possible to send such bad wines to an international event – did the producers only take the chance to sell unsold/unsalable wines? And what is the idea of Burgundy wines one would form if it were the first time one had tasted some?
I have no doubt these competitions can be useful for some new players, wineries that will indeed get a better exposure once they have won an award, and will use it in their communication, and even on their label to reassure the consumer when he or she hesitates to buy the first bottle.
I have no doubt either that it is useful for the organisers – they must make a profit out of it, otherwise, they could not afford to organise these competitions.
But as far as the « profit » we, wine writers, can make, or rather, the direct use we can find in such competitions, I think it is quite limited when we don’t know the wines we taste.
For me, the best part of such competitions is the exchanges I have with other jury members (always interesting to compare the way you judge with other nationalities and other approaches like that of an oenologist, for instance); not to forget the odd visit to wineries if and when the competition is based in a producing region. Otherwise, what can we write?
I am confident that in your guide, Daniele, you do everything you can to get to taste all the best producer’s wines in the different DOCs.
So don’t you think, at times, that you are something of a character witness for some of these competitions, that you give them your good name in exchange of a free trip and lodging?