Who Won 2021 World Wine Tasting Championship, Who Competed for Team USA, and A Lawsuit

 

USA Wine Team logo

Who Won the 2021 World Wine Tasting Championship? Who Competed for Team USA? What wines were tasted? And what’s that lawsuit all about? I’ll do my best to answer these questions and more starting with who won by identifying the most wines “blind”! At the World Wine Tasting Championships organized by La Revue du vin de France and held today at Chateauneuf-du-Pape, France, the winning team scored an astounding 166 points! And which team took the trophy and wines home to which country?

Congratulations go to

1. Hungary, 166 points

Attila Aranyos 
Levente Molnar
Laura Rabcsanszki
Didier Sánchez
Coach : Krisztina Palagy

It seems they took an early lead,

and they kept it, beating out home team favorites France who won in 2020 (read here) and in 2019 (read more here). 

In 2021, France with Pascal Piednoir (Capitaine), Pierre Rey, Nicolas Barrault and Bruno Oechslin actually came in 6th place with 114 points, even though the contest this year featured four French wines out of the twelve in the contest (more on the wines below). Competitors this year clearly found the contest easier; in 2019, the year I competed,  France won with 112 points and China came in second with 103 points.

In case you are new to this topic, in this contest of skill and teamwork, up to four tasters plus a coach make an educated guess what’s in the glass: the grape, the country, the region, the producer, and the vintage. Varying numbers of points come with each designation, and winners typically come in between 100-125 points depending on how difficult it is that year– whether the wines veer far outside the norm. Typically there are six white wines and six reds; the contest often starts with a sparkling wine and ends with a sweet one. In previous years, the selections included wines from around the world, but generally more Euro-centric with two wines from host country France.

Once again, because of COVID concerns, organizers planned for the competition to have two stages as I explained here. All teams sampled eight wines, and the top teams moved on to the next stage with four more wines.

This year the wines included Baga, a red grape from Portugal, and four wines from France including  three Pinot Noir and not a one from the host region, Chateauneauf-du-Pape. Scroll down for more details on all twelve wines.

 

So how did the other teams do in this blind tasting contest? 

2 : Belgium, 154

FrançoisXavier Barcéna
Laurent Katz
Frederick Christoffels
Olivier rotiers
Nathalie Harhelier coach

3 : Spain, 136

Daniel Monsonis (capitaine)
Josep Gallego
David Carril Sendra
Juan Luis Vanrell
Felipe Pardo Palero

4 : Netherlands, 126

Juliette Zandbergen
Kim van der Linde – Bruggink
Jesper Moonen
Jaap Baan 
coach Maxime Zandbergen

5 : Luxembourg, 120

Zaiah Amann
Herve Amann
Guy Bosseler
Jules Hoffelt
Coach Daniel Poos

7 : Taiwan, 110

Chang Chia-Hsiang
Wu Long-Ching
Lu Yen-Ting
Hsieh Tsung-Hsing
Aaron Chiang (coach)

8 : Brasil, 109

Luiz Batistello
Diego Dequi 
Bruno Vianna
Raphael Morras

9 : Romania, 108

Julia Scavo
Sandra Cahu
Valentin Ceafalau
Horia Hasnas
and Cosmin Udrea.

10 : Italy, 107

Andre Podazza 
Miguel lopez couto
Pierre-Yves Challier

  • Italy has typically done terribly, which people say is because Italians generally own drink their own country’s wine! They did really well and it’s not like the lineup was full of Italian wines! Keep scrolling for the wines list.

NOTE: It is my understanding that only the top 10 teams went on to compete and taste the final four wines which would mean the teams below did not have a chance to improve their scores with the rest of the wines which would also explain how the winning team could have 100 points more than the American team.

11 : Finland, 102

Tomi Naarvala
Erkki Piitulainen 
Kimmo Räntilä
Samu Viljanen

12 : South Africa, 100

Chris Groenewald
Gavin Smith
Benthe Legg
Warren Kemm
Pieter de Waal (captain)

  • UPDATE: I previously reported only one person on the South Africa team (according to my source), however, South Africa did compete with a full team so this has been updated thanks to info provided by teammate Warren Kemm. Thank you Warren!

13 : Sweden, 99

Mats Burnert coach
Torgny Almgren
Jerker Delsing
Rickard Granberg
Ulf Palmnäs**

  • **Ulf has competed for Team USA in the past, notably when they placed third with a team that included Kristen Schubert and the current coach. Evidently, national teams can have members from other countries although I’m not so sure how common that is.

14 : Denmark, 95

Rasmus Amdi Larsen
Christian Thorsholt Jacobsen
Jonas Munk Christensen

14 : Belarus, 95

Jury Lukjanau
Siarhei Saroka
Kirill Komissarov
Norbert Puzenat

16 : England, 94

Christopher Nelmes
Christopher Spencer
Vincent Dulhoste
Warwick Ross

16 : Switzerland, 94

Dorian Pajic
Pierre-Emmanuel Fehr
Damien Mermoud
Tristan Frésard

18 : Monaco, 93

19 : Japan, 88

20 : Poland, 85

21 : Russia, 79

22 : Kasakhstan, 78

23 : South Korea, 74

23 : Mexico, 74

25 : USA, 66

Taylor Robertson
Lisa Stoll
Byanca Godwin
Elan Glasser

  • This is a REALLY SURPRISING list of teammates for Team USA. And that’s what has led to the lawsuit from other teammates. A little more on that matter below; more to come.
  • And what have I been yammering about for two years now? Teams need to practice together to be successful. As far as I know, Team USA met for the first time and practiced together for the first time the day before the contest; however, three of the team members live in SoCal so could have practiced.
  • Lisa and Elan competed in 2019 and came in at third place with 59 points; Sue and I secured our place on the 2019 team with second place and 92 points while Taylor and his partner Jacob Fergus placed first in 2019 with 101 points. Byanca placed third in 2018, but when the second place team dropped out, they took their spot.

26 : Austria, 59

27 : Portugal, 55

If anyone from any of these teams ever comes to southern California, please let me know so I can share my local wine region with you! 

competitors and organizers for the 2021 World Wine Tasting Championship; photo from La Revue du vin de France

What about the wines?

Wine N ° 1:
Main grape variety: Pinot Noir
Country: France
Appellation: Champagne
Producer: Bollinger Vintage: 2012

Team USA coach prepared us by saying there wouldn’t be any sparkling wine in the contest so not to worry about that — but we went to Champagne anyway! Read about our vineyard visit with Vincent Charlot here. Of course in 2019, there was a sparkling wine and it was CAVA. I’m doing a tasting this Wednesday of three, and Cava is a category I’ve been working on for sure after it stumped Team USA in 2019. Bollinger is a wine I know well — a favorite I’ve written about a few times! In fact I think I’ll open a bottle of this tonight to go with my oysters and fresh ridgeback prawns I bought this morning from the fisherman who caught them yesterday! 

Wine N ° 2:
Main grape: Chardonnay
Country: Australia
Designation: Kangaroo Island
Producer: The Islander
Vintage: 2020

Oh my! While these may sound unusual, we’ve been tasting and writing about Chardonnay from Australia lately — it’ super distinct and interesting. 

Wine N ° 3:
Main grape variety: Chenin
Country: Argentina
Designation: Mendoza
Producer: La priméra revancha
Vintage: 2019  

This is a wine to track down and get a sample of! How interesting — I think I’d know Chenin anywhere but one from Mendoza? Fascinating! 

Wine N ° 4:
Main grape: Baga 65%
Country: Portugal
Designation: Serra d’Aire
Producer: Serradinha
Vintage: 2015  

I suspect this is a new grape! How fun! I need to track this one down. I have lots of Portuguese wine to write about as soon as I’m done writing about all my Slow Wines. I need to do this one too!

Wine N ° 5:
Main grape variety: Pinot Noir
Country: France
Appellation: Chorey les beaune
Producer: Laroche
Vintage: 2019

Aw, French Pinot Noir! What could go wrong? 

Wine N ° 6:
Main grape: Merlot 60% Cabernet Franc 25% Sauvignon 15%
Country: South Africa
Designation: Coastal region Stellenbosch
Producer: Ruppert and Rothschild
Vintage: 2017

I just did a tasting with six South Africa Chenin Blanc and six South Africa Cabernet; I wonder if I would have picked this out?

Wine N ° 7:
Main grape: Grüner Vetliner
Country: Austria
Designation: Wachau
Producer: Emmerich Knoll
Vintage: 2019
 

So after wine 6, did they take a break to calculate scores and determine who would go on to the finals? This Gruner seems odd to follow the red blend. 

Wine
N ° 8:
Main grape: Riesling
Country: Germany
Designation: Rheinehesseb
Producer: Wittmann
Vintage: 2020

Everyone should have gotten this one; forgiven if they got the region wrong though!

Wine N ° 9:
Main grape variety: Pinot Noir
Country: France
Appellation: Sancerre
Producer: Vincent Pinard
Vintage: 2018

So there’s THREE Pinot Noir in this tasting? This one has to totally be there to trip people who have coaches like Team USA where we were told no more than one wine from any one country (then later told oh except for FRANCE) and there would be no doubles etc etc. 

Wine N ° 10:
Main grape: Nebbiolo
Country: Italia
Designation: Barolo
Producer: Gianfranco Alessandria
Vintage: 2017

Ahhh, nebbiolo! Here’s a lovely vegan biodynamic one we wrote about last September.

Wine N ° 11:
Main grape: Grenache
Country: Spain
Designation: Aragon Campo de Borja
Producer: Gil Estate Family
Vintage: 2018 

I think I have a sample of this wine right now waiting for me! Maybe it’s not Gil Estate but that region. Here’s what we did about Aragon recently; those sandwiches were divine. 

Wine N ° 12:
Main grape: Savagnin
Country: France
Appellation: Côtes du Jura
Producer: Domaine des Marnes Blanches
Vintage: 2014

FOUR WINES FROM FRANCE! Three Pinot Noir! Count them! And ending with Jura! How fun! We’ve written about Jura a few times; here’s the most recent.

Read more about the contest from organizer World Wine Tasting Championships organized by La Revue du vin de France here. 

Notably, it’s easy to second guess how I might do from here at home, by myself, without all the chaos in the room and the tension. But I suspect if the team of women tasters we had proposed to organizers had competed we would have made it into the finals. 

So what about that lawsuit?

So what about it? 

  1. The Team USA organizer/coach has been served papers with regard to a lawsuit by Team USA member Kristen Schubert related to contractual obligations related to the contest, how it was run, and how competitors were selected.
  2. Several team members as well as the coach and others will be required to submit depositions.
  3. Three women in their 50s selected to be on the team who raised concerns about how the team has been coached int he past were “uninvited” to be on the team in 2021 and told they could not compete again; one woman was then invited back to compete in the future while a second woman (myself) never received a response with regards to the allegations. 
  4. The team who competed in France did not meet the rules as set by the organizer; the organizer also refused to provide a clearer rubric for how team members were selected however according to the rules on the website, the organizer operated illegally.
  5. Want to see the letter that got me disinvited as well as other documents which caused Kristen to serve the Team USA organizer with legal papers? Stay tuned! Subscribe! More details to come!

 

4 thoughts on “Who Won 2021 World Wine Tasting Championship, Who Competed for Team USA, and A Lawsuit

  1. There are also rules/laws governing California contests/lotteries/drawings, etc. You can research “contests of skill”. John Villja charged us $250/team to participate, then denied us the right to compete as “winners”. Bait and switch. The law discusses that the if an organizer has a PUBLIC competition and lists the rules of the competition, those rules must be followed. Our competition is actually more involved with rulings since it is a competition of skill, and not a random drawing or lottery, etc. The fines are much steeper, and the state or federal authorities will have the right to remove the organizer for not following his own rules(posted on his website). Quite clearly, John chose two third-place finishers to compete in 2021, and not the two” winning teams” of 2018 and 2019. If you operate a public contest with rules displayed publicly, take payments for your own gain, and then do not follow those rules-the state and federal authorities will respond.
    As contestants, we PAID to be in this yearly contest-and this is how we have been treated as customers of WIne Acuity! SHameful!
    In 2020, even during covid, the rules were followed for the team named. This is the first year John has broken with precedent. However, in personal conversations, John did try to deny Lisa Stoll her spot on the team in 2020, and her teammate stood up for her to the point that she was reinstated.

    Liked by 1 person

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