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10 Wineries to Watch in 2011

on 02/01/11 at 11:49 am


I’ve never been good with a crystal ball. My sense of what’s coming in the world of wine is almost always grounded in experiences from the past.

So I will approach 2011 with a short list of wineries to watch — wineries that I’ve only recently discovered, for the most part. All were impressive on the wine competition circuit in 2010, particularly in the competitions I am most closely associated with and supervise: Winemaker Challenge, Critics Challenge and Sommelier Challenge.

As you might have surmised, each of those competitions has a theme: the Winemaker Challenge judges are all accomplished winemakers; the Critics Challenge judges are all renowned wine journalists; and the Sommelier Challenge judges are professional sommeliers.

When a winery emerges victorious from such expert scrutiny, I take notice. While there were many outstanding performers in the three Challenge competitions this year, I have culled my list of “10 Wineries to Watch” from winners that are either from obscure wine regions or relatively unknown.

— Valdubon: This winery on the banks of the Duero river was founded in 1997, making it a virtual newcomer in the context of the rich history of wine in Spain’s Ribera del Duero. Many of Valdubon’s top wines are not imported, but the Crianza and Reserva are widely distributed and represent tremendous value at $18 and $24, respectively. The 2003 Crianza made its biggest splash to date when it was voted Wine of the Year at the 2010 Sommelier Challenge and earned a gold medal at the 2010 Critics Challenge. The Reserva took a gold medal at both the Sommelier and Critics Challenge wine competitions.

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