Mar 292012
 
FLIWC Wines

Photo Credit: Tracy Ellen Kamens

Dozens of wine judges descended upon Rochester, NY last weekend to participate in the Finger Lakes International Wine Competition, the largest charitable wine competition in North America. Beating all previous records, this year, the competition drew 3,298 entries, representing all 50 states, 5 Canadian provinces and 22 countries. The 64 judges themselves hailed from throughout the U.S. as well as Canada, South America and Europe. Another claim to fame were the 67 ice wine entries, thought to be the largest judging of ice wines anywhere.

If you read this publication with some regularity, you will have noticed that a few of the contributors have had the privilege to serve as a wine judge this year. However, my colleagues’ experiences judging at various competitions were likely much different than mine. Did we judge flights of Chardonnay? We sure did. Pinot Noir? You betcha. But, we were just as often served a flight of Concord, Muscadine, fruit wines or hybrids.

While most of the judges have been trained to evaluate American and French-American grape varieties, we were certainly stumped by a few and had to ask for some assistance as to what a perfect example of the variety might smell and taste like. Léon Millet, anyone? I think I met him once. Our table was a bit rusty on Marquette (aside from the fact that they have a good basketball team). But, all in all, it is precisely this exposure to these wines that bring many of the judges back year after year. And, certainly these wines deserve as fair an evaluation as their more well-known cousins.

This competition is also special in the way that it brings the Rochester community together, in more ways than one. Established with the sole purpose of raising money for Camp Good Days and Special Times, a summer camp for children affected by cancer, FLIWC attracts a significant volunteer base of locals to help out with uncorking, pouring, tabulating and glass washing, among the many Herculean tasks required over the two-day competition. Several years ago, the competition drew volunteers Jeff Stabins and Nancy McCullough together, who recently celebrated their third wedding anniversary.

It was on an equally celebratory note that the judges had the opportunity to visit a few of the award-winning wineries the day after the competition. Of course, as the bearers of such great news, they were thrilled to see us. And, despite having tasted over 200 wines each on the previous two days, somehow were just as eager to taste their wines and toast their success.

  One Response to “Flight of the Concords”

  1. Tracy,

    I would be interested to hear your impression of Marquette. From a wine judge perspective and then from a consumer perspective.

    Thanks,

    Mitch

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