All That Glitters...
Giles looks at wine festivals and their impact on the trade.
Hallo! It's time for more tales of from the wine face.
This week I have been bombarded, not with samples mores the pity, but with e-mails, e-mails that have had two things in common; firstly they have beaming from html ear to poorly rendered jpeg with self satisfaction and secondly they have had the initials IWSC emblazoned all over them. Yes it's that time of year again, the time when the now deceased Wine Magazine's inspired wine and spirit competition releases its results to the press and the trade - if you want to know the results you have to but Wine & Spirit International...or just e-mail me and I'll tell you and save you a fiver!
Since the IWSC's inception some twenty or so years ago, the world of wine has changed somewhat. These days wine competitions are not so much ten a penny as a thousand a halfpenny, so much so that it seems that the only place that doesn't have its own wine competition is my cellar. Things have got so ridiculous that wine merchants are even holding competitions for their own wines and awarding themselves medals...Laithwaites, give me strength! Point is that these days don't be fooled by a mass of pretty gold stickers and neck label saying that it won a medal at the Belize wine festival 2006, as frankly the way things are I could put my father's home brewed Hock, circa 1984 and win a commendation!
Anyway, back to the IWSC. This is a competition that actually counts for something. The wines, thousands of them, are tasted blind by panels of judges who generally (myself excluded) know what they are talking about and who have no axe to grind but are simply judging the wines on their respective merits. Achieving any sort of award in the IWSC is an achievement, even a relatively lowly seal of approval is hard won and as you get into the realms of bronze, silver, gold or, lumy, a trophy you can be pretty certain that what lies within is at least worth taking a look at.
Now under the veil of silence that is supposed to keep us from telling you what's won, I thought I'd run you through a few wines that have won various things in the past and which are still available now.
Louis Jadot Cotes de Beaune Village 2002 (Waitrose bin end offer £8.99) is a stunning drop of Burgundy at a price that is equally special. Packed with red and black cherry fruits, raspberry acidity and a silken, velvety body. Its glorious now having reached its mature peak and is just delicious with red meats (lamb is always sublime with burgundy) though when it tastes this good, why not take it on its own?
Another red which has won multiple favour with the judges is the excellent St Hallet's Faith Shiraz (Tesco £) This Barossa wine shies away from the usually Aussie rubric of bung it all in and then chuck in the kitchen sink and instead goes for a measure of reserve and style that means that rather than being totally bowled over you are seduced by soft bramble, redcurrant and strawberry flavours.
A stunning white (I'm sure I gave this a gold or platinum or some such) is the CVNE Monopole white Rioja (Waitrose £6.99) This barrel fermented wine is rich, fragrant, juicy and soft with sumptuous notes of pears, apricots, melons and limes. It is without doubt one of the best value great wines you are going to come across and it never ceases to amaze me that it's price has rocketed like that of the reds CVNE make.
Last, but by no means least, and here I am going to break the code of silence, if you have a celebration coming up or are just flush and want to buy the best bottle of Champagne of your life, then the Gosset Celebris 1996 is the one for you (£69.99) This is the epitome of Champagne elegance and power. Gosset routinely don't dosage their wines (bung a bit of sugar into the finished wine to cover faults and make it more 'accessible') and as such their wines are ultra-refined and sing with notes of white grapes, grapefruit, red and green apples, walnuts and pears (well, for seventy quid you want something complex!) And because this wine has spent a decade in Gosset's cellars before release it comes to you ready to drink and smouldering with yeasty touches. In short, it's marvellous!
Well I hope I had given you drink for thought,
PS Date for your diaries - Saturday 9th December, Christmas tasting at Boughton church. For more details and ticket availability please mail me on firstname.lastname@example.org.