COVID or no, 8th World Blind Wine Tasting Championship To Be Held 10/10/20: No Team USA?

Competitors in the 2019 World Blind Wine Tasting Championship at Chateau Chambord, Loire, France.

This weekend at Château Smith Haut Lafitte, in Pessac-Léognan, competitors from around the world will gather to compete in the 8th edition of the World Tasting Championship. Organized by the Revue du vin de France and its partners, this year’s competition will feature far fewer competitors than last year when 30 teams competed.

Competition Hall in 2019 at Chateau Chambord; Team USA middle left with Wine Predator Gwendolyn Alley in the baseball cap.

Because of COVID complications, chaos, and quarantines, several teams, including the US did not send a team to this year’s competition; read more here about changes to the competition to accomodate COVID and how Team USA would be chosen.  Read here who was chosen.

However, Viet Nam and Greece will join for the first time this weekend. There are plans to live stream the event.

Team USA at Chateau Chambord

The weekend kicks off with a friendly dinner where teams bring wines from their home countries to share with everyone. Last year this was a highlight for me. I met so many great people and tasted lots of different wines because many people brought wines made from indigenous grapes of their country. Sue and I brought wines from the two southern California wineries where we work: Camarillo’s Cantara which gets grapes from Lodi, and Santa Paula’s Clos des Amis which uses estate and Ventura County fruit.

On the morning of Saturday, October 10, competitors will do a blind tasting of 12 wines from around the world, for which the tasters must determine the country of origin, the grape variety. main, appellation, producer and vintage. The tasters who score the most points will be crowned World Tasting Champions 2020.

In 2019, France was the winning team.

Organizers for Team USA decided to pull out of the competition over a month ago, citing concerns for travel under COVID. As I had long considered heading over to France this fall for harvest — to work and write and cover the competition–when organizers said Team Coach John Vilja could field a team of Americans in France, I was even more tempted to go.

After all, I learned long ago that you can’t walk through the doors of opportunity of you’re not in the room! Not much happens if you stay stuck on your couch and don’t take chances.

Sue Hill and I certainly took a chance last year when, at the last minute, we competed without practicing and won second place which meant we had an all expenses paid trip to the Loire to compete on Team USA with two somms from Texas!

Read what happened at the competition in France in 2019.

Team USA with competition organizers

I understand that going to France and then likely having to be quarantined for two weeks is no fun — and expensive, even if it would give the team a great chance to practice together! And while I could find some great deals on flights, and had ideas of places where I could quarantine in Europe, the risk of flight cancellations and all the complications going and coming led me to decide to just stay home for now. Because while non-essential travel is forbidden, journalists, including wine journalists like me, are allowed as long as they take precautions and follow the rules for quarantine etc. Some countries have more open borders in Europe as well; a friend has been in Croatia the past few weeks when her travel to Greece was cancelled due to a COVD outbreak. You can only imagine how much I yearned to accept her invitation and join her there! Croatia is one of the birthplaces of wine, and I don’t know their  grapes at all! Her pictures are so tempting.

Info on the Russian Blind Wine Tasting Team event

Like the US, Russia also has high numbers of COVID-19 and did not decide to send a team to France. Instead, according to their Facebook page, the Russian team will conduct a contest. They write:

Dear lovers of blind tasting!
The Russian team does not go to the World Championship in Bordeaux, but under the patronage of the World Championship in Blind Tasting, we will hold the Blind Game Team in Moscow together with France by international rules. October 10 at 13.30 pm at Yura restaurant at StandArt Hotel Moscow. The team will be disbanded during the game, players become coaches and recruit their teams. You have a great opportunity to get your team together and perform together. Team is a coach and 4 players. The winning team will receive a prize from our partner, professional wine glass ChefSommelier Rus, a trip to our south winery and glass collection. Of course, the blind game will be held featuring Reveal ‘ Up glasses.
Everyone who wants to watch and get sick at the game, we suggest buying a ticket and tasting together with the teams. Prizes are waiting for you too!
After the game, we organize a dinner with the participants of the game and with Russian wines selected for the trip to the World Championship in Yura restaurant with love selected gastronomic support.
📍 Country-5 points. It is necessary to specify the winery country of the Old or New World. In anticipation of your questions, Russia does not play. Bye bye!
📍 Appellation-5 points. For the main countries of the Old World, it is an apelasion. Region-0 points. For the New World – the region (that is enough Central Valley and Mendoza)
📍 Variety-10 points. If a monosepage. If blend, the score that takes the given variety in the blend. For example, you indicated a sir, her in a blend is 30 %, means 3 points.
📍 Vintage-3 points, if the country is correctly indicated. If wrong, 1 points.
📍 Manufacturer-1 points.
The championship will be held tomorrow at 14.00. Watch us live! Don’t forget to prepare your favorite bottle.
As far as I know there is no Team USA in France in 2020.
Sue and I continue to taste wine prolifically — usually 30 or more wines a month — and we continue to pay attention to what we are tasting by writing about it here on this blog. I’ve published a number of articles about our two weeks of travel in France where we visited several biodynamic wineries in Champagne and more organic and biodynamic wineries in the Loire. We met with winemakers every where we went and we are so grateful for how much time they all shared with us.
And we have more stories to tell and more wines to write about!
Wish us luck for next year’s competition!
Whether I make Team USA or not, I plan to walk through that door of opportunity! Speaking of, if you have travel or tasting opportunities for me, or work writing or teaching or in the vineyards or the cellar, reach out! 
AND Stay tuned! Subscribe!
PS This is post 9 of 9 for the #Blogtober challenge to publish daily! It’s #MerlotMe time then a visit to Napa for updates on the fires. I am also trying to post on Art Predator (which I did daily in April for Poetry Month) but between these posts and painting this mural, I’ve been busy!

Women who wine: members of previous Team USA competitors prepared for the 2020 competition in June.



2 thoughts on “COVID or no, 8th World Blind Wine Tasting Championship To Be Held 10/10/20: No Team USA?

  1. I think you made the right decision to stay at home. France is experiencing covid spikes in many areas. Daily infections are near 18K, Bordeaux is a red zone and there is a new outbreak at one of the university wine campuses in Bordeaux.

    Liked by 1 person

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