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21st Annual
Critics Challenge
International Wine & Spirits Competition
June 22 & 23, 2024

The 2024 Critics Challenge
has been completed.

Click here for 2024 Results


Founded in 2004 by wine critic and journalist Robert Whitley, Critics Challenge is one of the most important and respected wine and spirits competitions in the world. Entries are judged in a double-blind format by panels of noted wine and spirits critics, bloggers and beverage journalists. Winning results are published on the competition website. Unique to this competition: Gold and Platinum awards are accompanied by the comment and score given by the individual Critic(s) that bestowed the award. Platinum-winning wines are also reviewed at and Platinum-winning spirits at

Rich Cook, Competition Director
+1 (760) 522-3167

MEDIA RELEASE (click here)

Dutcher Crossing Takes Top Honors in Wine; Bacardi Wows with Unique Rum Offering

(July 2024) - The 21st annual Critics Challenge International Wine & Spirits competition is in the books, with plenty of worthy products to celebrate. While reports of a downturn in the industry persist, I'm happy to report that very high quality wines and spirits continue to find their way to the top in blind judging events, and it's always worth taking a look at what passes muster with wine journalists, who tend to have an extremely wide view of the marketplace - especially when it involves the sharing of those insights with the public.

For openers, the second annual winner of our founder's memorial award - Robert Whitley Trophy for Wine of the Year - is the Dutcher Crossing 2021 Cut Root Vineyard Pinot Noir from Sonoma County's Russian River Valley AVA, taking a score of 98 points and edging out some serious competition. Chief Wine Judge Michael Franz describes the wine as follows: “A Pinot that displays the important varietal virtue of punching above its weight, this is fresh and shows some delicacy, but then kicks in with expressive, deep, and lasting flavors recalling dark cherries and berries. The balance of fruit, acidity and wood is excellent, so this is ready to go but also has years of positive development ahead of it." At its full retail price of $61, it's as good as several offerings that cost twice as much. Well done!

Dutcher Crossing had even more to celebrate, also taking Domestic Winery of the Year honors on a strong portfolio showing. Winner of the Wine of the Year, Import, is the Schloss Vollrads 2021 Riesling Kabinett Rheingau - with a score of 95 points and a retail price of $34. Australia’s Wakefield/Taylors grabbed the Import Winery of the Year title thanks to Platinum Awards in the Shiraz and Riesling categories. Pernod-Ricard's worldwide array of winemakers secured our Wine Company of the Year award with a portfolio spanning Spain, Australia and New Zealand. Paso Robles' Bella Luna Estate Winery won the Small Producer of the Year prize with three Platinum Awards.

The Spirits Dvision continues to grow year over year, and new products continue to impress. Spirits judges awarded Spirit of the Year to a completely unique product - the Bacardi Reserva Ocho Rum, Sevillian Orange Cask Finished.  Colorado's Lasso Whiskey earned the Distiller of the Year honor with a fine set of well-aged whiskies.

You can check out all of the wine and spirits winners on our results pages, and don't miss our judges' comments on Platinum and Gold Award winners there as well.

If you’d like to learn more about Critics Challenge founder Robert Whitley you can read a collection of tributes at this link at – another one of his great ideas. It’s my honor to play a part in continuing Robert's legacy, and our team looks forward to celebrating more great beverages at the 2025 Critics Challenge International Wine & Spirits Challenge next June. Cheers!

Rich Cook
Competition Director





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