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2019 Poet's Leap Riesling was given 96 points, a double gold, and a top wine by the glass award by leading sommeliers, master sommeliers, wine directors and restaurant buyers of USA at the 2021 Sommeliers Choice Awards.
Inspired by the great wines of Germany and winemaker Armin Diel, Long Shadows Vintners winemaker Gilles Nicault continues to craft the 2019 Poet’s Leap in Armin’s style and using his expertise when it comes to vineyard selection, fermentation, and blending to create a lively Riesling with delicious minerality.
The 2019 Poet’s Leap Riesling became the darling for wine by glass recommendation by America's top sommeliers.
“This is a delicious riesling - peach and nectarine, hints of white flowers and ginger...fresh, high quality and long finish” - says GILLIAN BALLANCE MS DWS Master Sommelier and Education Manager at Treasury Wine Estates and judge at the 2021 Sommeliers Choice Awards.
“Beautiful wine. Balanced in all aspects. Would definitely have a second glass”, quoted PAUL CARAYAS, Wine Director at Chez TJ, San Mateo, CA and a judge at the 2021 Sommeliers Choice Awards.
“Delightful! Alsatian-style Riesling, rich, textural - ripe apricot, ripe golden apple, textural - weighty but not heavy, ripe but not jammy. Refreshing and quaffable but with real complexity that invites back into the glass. Fantastic work!” said Mark Guillaudeu, judge at the 2021 Sommeliers Choice Awards.
After 20 years of building Chateau Ste. Michelle and its affiliate wineries into an international brand, Washington wine visionary Allen Shoup had a new vision: to create a group of ultra-premium wines, each with an exceptional international winemaker, working together to elevate Washington wine to true world-class status. The result is Long Shadows Vintners and some of Washington’s most acclaimed.
During Allen’s tenure as CEO of Chateau Ste. Michelle, he elevated Columbia Valley wines on the world stage, partnering with some of Europe’s winemaking legends to create wildly successful collaborations between the old world and new. Long Shadows is a continuation of this vision.
Allen knew the ambitious project would need a director of winemaking who was highly knowledgeable and flexible enough to help the collaborating winemakers realize their vision. Allen tapped Gilles Nicault for the job. Gilles—a French native—carried with him an impressive résumé, at the time working as winemaker for Woodward Canyon, one of Washington’s premier wineries.
With Gilles’ position secured, Allen recruited a veritable who’s who of winemakers: Randy Dunn (Napa, Feather Cabernet Sauvignon), John Duval (Australia, Sequel Syrah), Philippe Melka and Agustin Huneeus, Sr. (Napa, Pirouette Red Wine), Michel Rolland (France, Pedestal Merlot), Armin Diel (Germany, Poet’s Leap Riesling), and father-and-son winemakers Ambrogio and Giovanni Folonari (Italy, Saggi Red Wine). Since the beginning Gilles has served as director of winemaking and viticulture, overseeing the production of all labels, and recently assumed the winemaking duties for Poet’s Leap and Saggi in the style of their original winemakers.
Long Shadows remains at the forefront of the industry, utilizing cutting-edge winemaking equipment and techniques to further explore the limits of Washington’s unique terroir. With each limited-production release, striving towards Allen’s original vision of establishing Washington State as one of the world’s premier wine regions. View all winners here.
The Sommelier Choice Awards provides on-premise buyers and sommeliers a valuable benchmark for understanding which wines would make a compelling addition to a wine list.
Sid Patel briefing the judges
On the left, each judge was seated at their own desk. On the right, Sid Patel, CEO of Beverage Trade Network briefing the judges.
The wines were judged in five categories: food pairing ability, typicity, quality, value, and packaging. The judges ask themselves, would I stock this wine, and is it good enough for customers to order a second glass? Wines are graded out of 100, with only those above 95 points winning the coveted Double Gold award. There are also category awards, with best in show given to white, red, sparkling, rosé, and an overall winner every year, by the bottle and by the glass – reflecting how wine is presented in restaurants.
No. 1 Spot: Wine of the Year - Chateau Ste. Michelle & Dr. Loosen 2019 Eroica Riesling
Wine Of The Year - 2019 Chateau Ste. Michelle & Dr. Loosen Eroica Riesling by Ste. Michelle Wine Estates, United States
White Wine of the Year - 2019 Chateau Ste. Michelle & Dr. Loosen Eroica Riesling by Ste. Michelle Wine Estates, United States
Red Wine of the Year - 2018 Persistence by Reynolds Family Winery, United States
Sparkling Wine of the Year - Albinea Canali Lambrusco "FB" Metodo Ancestrale by Albinea Canali, Italy
Rosé Wine of the Year - 2020 Baron De Ley Rioja Rosado by Baron De Ley, Spain
Wine Of The Year - BTG (By The Glass) - 2019 Long Shadows Vintners - Poet's Leap Riesling, United States.
White Wine Of The Year - BTG (By The Glass) - 2019 Long Shadows Vintners - Poet's Leap Riesling, United States.
Red Wine Of The Year - BTG (By The Glass) - 2017 Carracedo, Spain
Sparkling Wine Of The Year - BTG (By The Glass) - Albinea Canali Lambrusco "FB" Metodo Ancestrale, Italy
Rosé Wine Of The Year - BTG (By The Glass) - 2020 Baron De Ley Rioja Rosado, Spain.
Riesling - 2019 Chateau Ste. Michelle & Dr. Loosen Eroica, United States.
Cabernet Sauvignon - 2018 Persistence, United States.
Malbec - 2018 UNO MALBEC, Argentina
Pinot Noir - 2016 Sass Pinot Noir 2016, United States.
Pinot Gris - 2019 Montinore Estate Pinot Gris, United States.
Chardonnay - 2019 Trois Noix Chardonnay, United States.
Judging Event of 2021 Sommeliers Choice Awards
"Covid-19 has had a huge impact on the industry," explained Sid Patel, CEO of Beverage Trade Network, the organizing company of the Sommeliers Choice Awards, "and when we come out of this, we hope to see a strong rebound in the hospitality sector. The increased number of quantity in 2021 submissions truly demonstrated the faith our industry has in the long term outlook of the hospitality industry".
Winners will also be promoted on BTN’s new direct-to-consumer portals Los Angeles Drinks Guide, San Francisco Drinks Guide, Chicago Drinks Guide, New York Drinks Guide along with BTN’s trade portals Sommeliers Business and BevRoute.
Sommelier Business Website
The top 100 wines for restaurants will also be marketed to sommeliers around the USA via the Top 100 On-Premise Wines website.
David Keck, Master Sommelier. View all judges here.
The goal of the Sommeliers Choice Awards is simple: to provide on-premise buyers and sommeliers a valuable benchmark for understanding which wines would make a compelling addition to a wine list.
Medals will be awarded to those wines that meet very specific judging criteria, with a goal of identifying wines that should become valuable additions to restaurant wine lists. Wines will be judged according to criteria such as how well they pair with food items in addition to their overall versatility. The pertinent questions that sommeliers attempt to answer as they judge wines is: “Would we stock this?” and “Would the customer buy a second glass of this wine?"
F (Food pairing ability Score) + T (Typicity Score) + Q (Quality Score) + Value Score (V) + Package Score (P) = Sommeliers Choice Awards Final Score.
Food pairing ability of a wine is measured based on the variety of dishes that the wine can be paired with instead of just one or two.
Typicity is a term in wine tasting used to describe the degree to which a wine reflects its varietal origins and thus demonstrates the signature characteristics of the grape from which it was produced, for e.g. how much a Merlot “tastes like a Merlot”. It is an important component in judging a wine competition when wines of the same variety are judged against each other.
Quality will be assessed based on how agreeable the wine is for its target customer and chemical analysis. SCA will measure quality by its Appearance, Aroma, Body, Taste and Aftertaste.
Value in this context means how well the wine is priced based on its quality. Judges will blind taste and write what they think should be the cost on which they will buy the wines and is fair. If they think it offers excellent value, the score should be close to 100 and if they think it should be priced lower, then the score should be low. The metric to be used here is the on-premise price vs quality.
Packaging will be measured by how well judges think the wine will be perceived by the consumer. The package will be judged for the on-premise market considering factors like label design, information, closure, and overall look. This does not involve boxes, cartons and bags. It is how they think the product will be observed when placed on a wine shelf amongst thousands of other wines.
A separate weighted score will be given for each of the parts of the judging process. The scores will be added up to give a final score from which individual prizes will be awarded.
Double Gold – 96 points and above
Gold – 90-95 points
Silver – 80-89 points
Bronze – 70-79 points