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Friday, November 4, 2011

We're a little over a week away from Wine Spectator unveiling their 2011 Wine of the Year. As we have the past couple years, we're running a contest to see who can guess the top wine ahead of time.

This year we're playing for a Kindle Fire ($199 value!) sponsored by New York wine retailer Grapes the Wine Company.

Here are the Rules:
  1. Submit your guess as a comment on this blog post.
  2. One guess per person.
  3. The first person to guess a specific wine "owns" that wine as their entry.  Subsequent guesses of the same wine aren't useful so look at the previous comments before submitting your entry.
  4. If nobody guesses the 2011 Wine Spectator Wine of Year, the guess with the highest position on the list will win the prize.
  5. Not that they'd try, but Wine Spectator editors aren't allowed to enter. And if you have inside information please don't spoil the fun for others by entering. But if you do know please E-mail me and let me know. ;)
  6. Since the Kindle Fire is US-only at this point, a winning entry from outside the U.S. will receive a $199 Amazon.com gift card.
Wine Spectator describes their criteria as follows:
  • Quality (represented by score)
  • Value (reflected by release price)
  • Availability (measured by cases made or imported)
  • An X-factor we call excitement.
    But no equation determines the final selections: These choices reflect our editors’ judgment and passion about the wines we tasted.
Last year's winner was the 98WS/$67 2007 Saxum James Berry Vineyard Paso Robles. With only 950 cases produced this wine was never in play for folks not on Saxum's mailing list which made the wine a surprising pick to me.

The year before, the 95WS/$27 2005 Columbia Crest Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley Reserve was more in line with what I think makes Spectator's Wine of the Year interesting. The wine was widely available at warehouse clubs in the high $20s prior to the announcement and now sells for over $100 at auction.

To be successful, I think you need to have a sense for what category the publication would like to make a statement about. After the Saxum announcement heavy coverage came out about Paso Robles, and Saxum seemed to capture the essence of what's going on in the region. With the Columbia Crest Reserve the sentiment seemed to be value.

What will they choose this year? 2009 California Pinot Noir? (best vintage evar!) 2006 Brunello? Bordeaux (2005) and Chateauneuf (2007) seem to be in a lull until 2009/2010. Napa Cab hit a peak in 2007 and didn't make the cut last year. Is there a new region they might like to highlight?

The thing is - and sometimes this is forgotten when crunching the numbers - the wine needs to stand up to the scrutiny of all the Spectator editors. Not just the person covering the region. That's where I think there's some merit in tracking down wines in the Spectator Top 10. They tend to be pretty darn good wines if you can get your hands on them.

Interesting side note: Last year's winner went on to do some freelance writing for Wine Spectator. Demonstrate your savvy here and you could work your way into a wine writing job in the big leagues!

Ready, set, GO! Leave your entry below as a comment.

Drop me an email (wellesleywinepress@gmail.com) or hit me up on Twitter (@RobertDwyer) if you have any questions.

And let's let Grapes the Wine Company's Daniel Posner know we appreciate his making this contest more interesting by signing up for his mailing list (he offers some amazing deals) and/or giving him a shout-out on Twitter (@grapestwc). 

Contest closes Friday, November 11th at 11:59 pm Eastern.

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