David Sandri has been a judge for the Lone Star International Wine Competition for the past 5 years and he has agreed to be our Chair this year. We thought you might enjoy this quick interview with him about the #LSIWC before the competition on June 5-6.
Please tell us a little bit about yourself. What do you do for your profession?
I have been in the industry for over 27 years, and have done a bit of everything – retail wine and spirits buyer, working with brokers and distributors, vineyard operations, winemaking teams, tasting room management and winery administration. For the last several years, I have been consulting with a number of wineries (and some breweries and distillers) on compliance and regulatory issues. I also judge at competitions throughout the US and in the UK, as well as write on various aspects of the wine and alcohol industry. I have also been teaching a lot over the last 5 or 6 years – College of Marin, as well as lecturing through the Wine Business Institute at Sonoma State University, and giving presentations in California, Oregon and Texas.
What do you like to do for fun?
It might sound a bit odd, but one of the things I enjoy doing is finding out more about food and wine (and beer and cider…), but that’s leads to another interest – travel, both near and far. Luckily, my wife also shares the same passion, so we have a lot of fun adventures. I also enjoy hiking, reading and gardening. And, of course, playing with our silly dog.
Tell us about your first experience with the Lone Star IWC?
My first time at Lone Star a number of years ago was great – I went from not really knowing anyone to know several great people the first day. That’s one of the things I most like about this competition, the great sense of companionship between everyone. It all stems from the people (much like my maternal grandmother, and great-grandmother, who were both from Texas).
What makes the Lone Star IWC different from other competitions?
First, it is the people – from the TWGGA staff to the volunteers, the event runs so efficiently. Lone Star also has such a breadth of entries, from Texas wines, to ones from around the world. While some competitions that have a particular region focus are fine, the representation of wines from all around makes this one of the best to truly give a great view of Texas and imported wines.
When the judges are tasting the wines, what are they looking for?
First, the judges taste each wine on its own merit. Second, they look for correctness of type and style. And of course, balance and integration of components (such as fruit, acid, and alcohol). Wines that have an inviting aroma, and show all their layers throughout the palate, and leave a long, lingering finish – those will be the ones that show great winemaking, and will be rewarded highly by the judges.
What are you excited about for the 2017 competition?
As I have seen the quality keep increasing over the years I have been here, I think we will again see even better wines, especially coming from Texas wineries. I had the chance to taste a number of wines back in February (at the TWGGA Conference), and the winemaking keeps getting better. I am also impressed by the grapes that are being grown so well down here – especially from Spanish varieties (such as Tempranillo), as well as others such as Syrah and Mavasia. It’s all about finding the right place for the right grapes, and I think Texas is really hitting the mark on this.
Do you have any favorite memories from past competitions?
Favorite memories – wow, there are a lot. A lot of it is about the people – fellow judges, the staff, and how much fun all of have, while still doing some serious business. I also think that each year, we keep getting pleased by amount of truly great wine there is out there, not just from Texas but from around the country (we have seen a number of wines from the Great Lakes area do well in year’s past, as well as from some little state out west, where they grow a few vines).
Any words of wisdom for this year’s entrants?
Words of wisdom – I guess it would come down to this – send us your best, and we will give each wine a fair taste. We are always looking for that next great surprise for our palates.
Thank you David! We appreciate your time and talent. We can’t wait to hear about your favorite moment from this year’s competition.