London calling for local wine judge
Rohnert Park’s David Sandri to judge prestigious International Wine Challenge in jolly old England
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By Kaydon Coburn  March 1, 2013 12:00 am


Living in one of the well-known wine producing regions in the world, there are many individuals in Sonoma County who are wine experts. Then, there are experts among wine experts; David Sandri would definitely be one of those individuals. Sandri, a 22-year local wine industry veteran and wine educator, has been accepted as an Associate Judge for the 2013 International Wine Challenge in London upon his first year of submission.

“I was just trying to broaden my horizons,” said a humble Sandri. “Mainly because there are so many entries from around the world. That would give me more opportunity to judge more wines from around the world.”

Geography is one variable that dictates the selections of wines sampled at competitions, according to Sandri, a Rohnert Park resident.

“This way I get to judge more European wines and Australian wines,” he says.

Location plays a role
Location also influences where the judges come from.

 “I will be one of the few California people there (London) judging with a lot of people from the U.K. and European wine industry. That’s always nice. You get a lot of different perspectives…learn a lot from each other,” Sandri explains.

He judges about eight or nine competitions domestically each year. Locations include New York, Denver, Dallas, Florida and Vermont.

Sandri feels his involvement in the wine industry, education, and active judging experience landed him a spot as an international judge.

“I had to submit my qualifications and different certifications that I had done in the wine industry as well as what other places I have judged. I’ve judged throughout the country,” says Sandri.

Expectations are high for Sandri at the international competition, which runs April 8-22. Sandri is scheduled to judge during the first week of the competition.

“I get to taste and judge a lot of really, really high-end wines…to meet a lot of people from the wine industry…especially from Europe…the U.K.,” Sandri said.

Wine judging protocol is normally with a “blind” or “double blind” method by the tasters. Sandri was asked what type of wines he might be judging.

“I might end up getting a fair amount of sparkling wines. Being from California, I might get some California wines. I honestly won’t know until I get there,” he said.

Expert array of judges
The prominent International Wine Challenge, now in its 30th year of competition, has more than 10,000 wine entries from around the world. The judging pool includes such well-known wine experts as Tim Atkin, MW (Master of Wine); Oz Clarke; Sam Harrop, MW; Peter McCombie, MW; Charles Metcalfe; and Derek Smedley, MW. As one of the longest running international wine competitions in the world, the IWC claims to use the most knowledgeable judges to ensure the wines that win the top awards are truly the best of the best.

“It’s run by extremely, highly regarded people in the wine industry,” says Sandri.

Impressive resume
Sandri currently works as a Compliance Specialist for Compliance Connection in Santa Rosa. He also is an instructor in Wine Studies at College of Marin, a frequent lecturer in the Wine Business Program at Sonoma State University, and has given presentations on wine through many organizations, including VESTA, SOWI, and Lodi Wine Country. Sandri also serves as Consulting Senior Sensory Enologist for American Winesecrets.

“It is an honor to be able to judge wines for such an amazing event, and be able to judge with some of the best in the wine industry from around the world,” stated Sandri.

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