With so many wine competitions these days, you do come to wonder whether all are the same and is one gold medal as good as the other. Comparing competitions is somewhat irrelevant as you are not comparing like for like, the entries into each so vastly different. The pedigree of the show, standing in a marketing, tenure and calibre of the judges do for sure make a difference. The Japanese Wine Challenge is now in its 22nd year, with the 2019 judging.
For me what’s fascinating and so exciting about this competition is firstly the array of wines. There was somewhere around 1200 wines entered, coming from all four corners of the world. This is one of the key aspects that has given this show so much kudos over the years. It judges and reviews the wines made in Japan as well as those imported. Japan is a very imported wine for imported wines, putting them all side by side gives a great benchmark. Talking to the Japanese Judges it is a competition that they feel has great weight in the market and that customers have learnt to trust.
The competition is rigorously run with very high standards and attracts a stellar line up of judges. For the 2019 competition, the international judges included Lynn Sherriff MW, John Salvi MW, Andrew Caillard MW, Adrian Garforth MW, Eduardo Dingler and Chris Martin
Over the years the organisers and judges have also taken very seriously educating Japanese judges on the process and encouraged them to learn to judge. This has through the years given a great deal back to the industry in Japan and created many leaders in wine appreciation.
It was my second time in Tokyo to judge at this competition, something I really enjoy, particularly the opportunity to see New Zealand wines in an international context. A number of New Zealand wines did very well include the Lake Chalice Raptor Sauvignon Blanc 2018. I recall seeing it in the line-up as it came through and wondering whose it was. It was sitting there in a truly international line up, head held high and very deserving of its Platinum Award.