About the Best-of-Appellation Evaluation Program
The "Best-of-Appellation" (BOA) evaluation tastings are designed to facilitate the building of place-identity for the hundreds of winegrowing regions of North America. The BOA Program is not, per se, a competition, though the wines that best express the character and quality of their region of origin are rewarded with placement on Appellation America's Best-of-Appellation Lists for that region.
The BOA process rigorously follows this familiar proposition:
and the character of each appellation
is defined by its best wines.
In the BOA process, the "best" wines are defined by their own place of origin; NOT by the personal taste preferences of our esteemed and expert Evaluators. Nor are the wines of one place judged against the taste profile of wines from another place.
BOA Program Details:
Click on each heading for details
The BOA assessments are done by panels of expert evaluators moderated by the BOA Program Director and in-house oenologist, Clark Smith, and, whenever possible, assisted by a Regional Advocate Evaluator*.
*The Regional Advocate Evaluator must be an industry professional from the region with an intimate knowledge of the appellation, its history, terroir and production practices. The role of the Regional Advocate Evaluator is to bring that knowledge to the assessment process.
1. The tastings are directed by the Moderator, and all wines are handled/poured by a professional service staff out of sight of the Evaluators.
2. Tasting is done blind in flight categories composed of wines of the same variety from the same appellation, or in cross-appellation groupings carefully designed by the Moderator to highlight the different characteristics of the respective appellations. The focus is on identifying distinct regional signatures, not competing the wines or appellations against each other. A regional signature is deemed to be a pattern of taste and character identifiable in the wine, and traceable to the terroir of the region and/or the locally applied technologies in viticulture and oenology…practical professional choices, if you will, about how to manage mother nature in a given region. In most appellations there are multiple signatures (often for the same variety), identifiable on a spectrum running from traditional, to dominant, to innovative. The BOA Evaluation Program is designed to accommodate the full spectrum of wine character where appropriate.
3. Each wine submitted for evaluation in the BOA Program is accompanied by a detailed Product Information Form with a wide range of questions regarding the terroir and applied technologies.
4. Each tasting begins with a discussion of what is already known and/or expected in the development of the regional character and styles of wines from the subject appellation. This forms the qualitative benchmark for the evaluation to follow, super-ceding personal taste preferences that the Evaluators may bring to the table. This preliminary discussion may be accompanied by tasting wines previously judged to typify the best, or developing, characteristics of the region/variety.
5. The Evaluators individually analyze all the wines in the flight, searching for the patterns of typicity, making notes, and assessing each wine objectively against the afore-mentioned, regionally-informed qualitative benchmark on four separate dimensions (color, nose, flavor, balance). Again the focus is how a wine reflects the signature characteristics of the region itself, not in the individual taste preferences of the Evaluators.
6. The Moderator then quickly polls the panel to determine which wines deserve further discussion in order to define and refine the character/style/quality profile(s) of that variety in the given appellation.
7. Discussion is concluded with an apportionment of the BEST-OF-APPELLATION™ Awards:
8. Notes from all the Evaluators are amalgamated and entered into the database, and the award winning wines are promptly advanced to the "Best-of-Appellation™" list for that variety and region.
Because the BOA process is purposely focused on defining regionality and patterns of commonality, certain wines may be of exceptional quality by standards other than the regional benchmark criteria, and thus be underrated in the focused BOA evaluation process. Such wines may be accommodated as follows:
An Evaluator may position him/herself as an advocate for the more or less anomalous wine during the discussion and advance the premise that the wine deserves "Best-Of" recognition as either a quality example of the character/style of wines from the region in the past, or a potential beacon of where the region may be headed as it develops its identity for that variety in the future. If the other panelists concur, the wine will be medaled and the "Best-of-Appellation" notes will indicate the nature of its variance.
Results of the BOA evaluations will be communicated to the participating wineries within two days following the assessment.
Only the identity of wines advancing to the Best-of-Appellation Lists becomes known to the Evaluators or to anyone else, other than the BOA Coordinator and Moderators.
From time to time, notice of editorial coverage or Appellation America press releases related to the BOA evaluations will be circulated to wineries in the relevant appellations.
How to Submit Wines for Evaluation
1. Open Call: Appellation America welcomes submissions from wineries at any time. Though individual wines will not be tasted in isolation, the regional inventories generally build up quickly enough to assemble appropriate tasting flights in a reasonable amount of time.
2. Regional Call: From time to time, Appellation America's BOA Coordinator will call for submissions from all the wineries producing wines (or specified varieties) from a particular appellation or regional grouping of appellations.
In addition, Appellation America will work with regional industry organizations to schedule more or less comprehensive Best-of-Appellation evaluations for particular areas. In that process, the call for submissions will come jointly from the named industry organization and Appellation America. The industry organization will be expected to nominate Regional Advocates to work with the BOA Evaluators.
To submit wines for BOA Evaluation, please download complete each of the forms below:
1. Submission Form: This form identifies the products which the winery plans to submit for BOA evaluation.
The completed form, together with fees ($50/per product), should be posted to the appropriate Appellation America office separately from the shipment of the actual wines.
download printable form
2. Product Information Form: This form serves two purposes.
The wine will be categorized and coded into the BOA database according to the basic product information.
And the Product Background Questionnaire will be aggregated in the database to provide a broader profile of the terroir characteristics and applied technologies that distinguish the appellation.
download printable form
After the evaulation of your wines, we will contact you by e-mail to let you know the results.
If any of your wines have been awarded Best-of-Appellation Gold or Double Gold status, we will produce an award certificate for each, which you can download from our site as a pdf file and print as you wish. Our email message will include the link to each certificate.
You may also download BOA medal icons, which you may use on your website or winery publications in association with any wine that has been awarded Gold or Double Gold status.
Wines awarded Best-of-Appellation status will be listed on our website along with our panel's Tasting Notes for each. The public can see all wines awarded during the past 30 days and subscribers can see (and search) the entire BOA wine list.