Tag Archives: international wine challenge

Back for more … International Wine Challenge 2014

IMG_0028

Mid-November saw us return to the International Wine Challenge in London for the first stage of the 2014 competition that has now been split into two parts, with the first ‘Tranche’ being mostly dedicated to Southern Hemisphere producers. This time we found ourselves working at a different location than that of the April 2013 event, the Barbican, where we arrived on a cold, wet Monday morning to begin what would be an intensive fortnight. However, the thought of this was eased by the welcome sight of familiar faces amongst a few newcomers to the crew. It’s strange to think in only April this year we were the newcomers, yet now the new members of the team are coming to us for advice on how to do things and it was nice to know that we could give adequate answers.

IMG_0905 IMG_0024 IMG_0027 IMG_0007 IMG_0011 IMG_0018 IMG_0023

The event has been slightly more relaxed than envisaged due to its present size in comparison to the April event, which made for smooth running.

IMG_0170 IMG_0195 IMG_0153 IMG_0178 IMG_0204 

Panel judges at work, alongside Co-Chairs Peter McCombie, Martin Moran, Oz Clarke, Charles Metcalfe, Sam Harrop, Jamie Goode, Richard Bampfield

This year, we were both given positions that had more of a key role to them, which was very exciting as well as a little scary as neither of us wanted any major, or minor, hiccups along the way. Ruth was given the task of ‘Floor Pit Boss’ to ensure the smooth running of the tasting tables, whilst Kel had the position of ‘Dispatch Pit Boss’ whose role it is to oversee the correct dispatch of tasting flights to the tasting tables. Jokes about husband and wife communications swiftly arose as our roles needed to ensure that we made ourselves clearly understood to ensure that the wines arrived at the tables on time. All went well reflecting that this husband and wife team are a perfect match!

IMG_0172 IMG_0181 IMG_0154

The competition week went well and passed by quickly. It was great to meet up with many of the judges again and to witness their expertise at first hand – many red lips and teeth by the end of the competition.

The week was nicely rounded off with a curry dinner all washed down with a nice glass of wine … or two.

The results from this event shall be released on December 4th, so remember to look out for those medals and snap up the wines whilst you can… just in time for Christmas!

Tranche 2 is to be held at The Oval in London, April 2014.

The International Wine Challenge 2013 Awards Dinner & 30th Anniversary Summer Ball – London

IMG_0325

We arrived to a hot, sticky London evening in search of our hotel in Pimlico, which we found just in time as we discovered that one of our tyres was punctured by a large screw and was quickly going flat.

We moved into our pink, basement, shoebox sized room that resembled the inside of an oven. After failed attempts to manage the temperature and create some kind of airflow in the room, we resigned ourselves to the fact we would just have to swelter. So we put our minds to planning our stay in London.

We have forgotten to mention that we acquired three vines in Devon, our ‘Pinot Passengers’, which would be coming home with us to hopefully grow in our porch, aka the cats toilet (incidentally he does use a litter tray and is very proper about his toilet habits). We thought it fitting that he should have a few Pinot Noir grapes dangling above his head and hopefully he will agree.  Before retiring to bed, Kel popped out to the car to water our precious commodity, which we hoped wouldn’t be mistaken for a more “exotic” type of plant. IMG_0395 The following day, after sorting the flat tyre out, we escaped any further baking in our room by spending a few hours relaxing in the sun in Hyde Park, along with most other people in London who had the same idea.

IMG_0268

The awards dinner was held at Grosvenor House Hotel in Park Lane and is the result of a lengthy process of identifying those wines from the thousands judged from around the world that are considered to be the best. The Awards Dinner is also a platform for celebrating and recognising businesses as well as individual personalities within the wine trade who have achieved great success. Well done to everyone involved!

IMG_0270 IMG_0276 IMG_0324 IMG_0274

This year’s dinner was all the more important as it celebrated the 30th anniversary of the Challenge, since it’s beginnings in 1984 founded by Robert Joseph and Charles Metcalfe. Many well known individual “wine celebrities” enjoyed the Awards Dinner as well as the odd non-wine related celeb, who have a keen interest in wine, such as Mick Hucknell of Simply Red fame.

It was good for us to meet up once again with familiar faces from our time working on the IWC Crew back in April, when all the judging took place at Lords Cricket Ground, and we enjoyed sharing a glass (or two) of Trophy Award winning wine.

IMG_0278  IMG_0340 IMG_0287 IMG_0355 IMG_0294 IMG_0291 IMG_0300 IMG_0318 IMG_0321IMG_0362 IMG_0331 IMG_0327 IMG_0367

Also receiving an award that evening was long standing IWC Crew Member John, who has amazingly worked for 25 years as part of the team. Here he is proudly receiving his own trophy: IMG_0272 It was a fantastic evening and a wonderful way to see the fruits of all the hard labour that has gone into the IWC year. Now the process begins all over again for IWC 2014 … Bring it on!!!

A Taste of Gold 2013

IMAG2218 IMAG2225 IMAG2215

Following on from our exploits working at the International Wine Challenge in April, we arrived back in London to crew the Taste of Gold event, a showcase of medal winning wines, including those awarded Trophies, Golds, Silvers, some Bronzes and Commended.

It was great to be back working with the gang again.

The first part of the day focused on trade tasting only, to be followed by public tasting in the evening.

Between us we looked after and promoted the following producers’ wines:

Argentina

Trivento Reserve Malbec, 2012 – Gold

An easy drinking wine, juicy with fresh red fruits and soft tannins, great value retailing at £8.99.

Chile

Cono Sur 20 Barrels Limited Edition Pinot Noir, 2011 – Chilean Pinot Noir & Chilean Red Trophy & Gold

A beautifully crafted new world Pinot, cherry and raspberry entwined with savoury characteristics, complex and approachable. One of my favourites (^R). Retails at £19.99. 

Vina Underraga ‘Terroir Hunter’ Cabernet Sauvignon, 2010 – Maipo Valley Trophy & Gold

Intense blackcurrant nose with hints of cedar and mint, good structure and long finish. This wine received very positive attention from those who tried it. Retails at £12.99.

Cono Sur Ocio Pinot Noir, 2011 – Gold

More subtle than the 20 Barrels Pinot, depth of red fruit flavours with hints of nutty savouriness and oak. Retails at £35.

Cono Sur Single Vineyard Syrah, 2011 – Gold

Very well done Syrah with red fruit and bramble flavours, peppery spice and good oak balance. Another firm favourite for me (^R) and many who tried it, especially at this price. Retails at £11.49.

Marques de Casa Carmenere, 2011 – Silver

A powerful wine, spicy red and dark fruits, chunky tannins. Retails at £12.99.

Marques de Casa Chardonnay, 2011 – Silver

Lovely, fresh, tropical, pineapple, flavours, nicely integrated oak adding body and structure. I could quite happily quaff this one (^R). Retails at £12.99.

France

Calmel Joseph Cotes du Roussillon Villages, 2011 – Cotes du Roussillon Villages Trophy & Gold

Fresh, summer fruits with black pepper spice. Retails at £10.99.

Villa Blanche Chardonnay, 2012 – Commended

Tropical fruit aromas with citrus hints, good acidic balance. Retails at £8.99.

Calmel Joseph Caramany, 2011 – Guest wine from producer not entered in IWC

The 50% Carignan in this blend highlighted violets and spice. The winemaker described this as the big brother to his Cotes du Roussillon Villages. Retails at £14.99.

This was a really enjoyable event, as much by meeting and chatting with members of the trade and the public, as well as the IWC crew and Co-Chairs, Charles Metcalfe, Derek Smedley, Oz Clarke, Tim Atkin and Peter McCombie. Look forward to seeing you all again soon!

IMAG2229 IMAG2228

IMAG2221 IMAG2232 IMAG2223IMAG2197  IMAG2224

IMAG2206 IMAG2203 IMAG2220

IMAG2211 IMAG2210

IMAG2217 IMAG2207 IMAG2205 IMAG2202

IMAG2201 IMAG2200

London International Wine Fair 2013

In May, we managed to get down to this year’s London International Wine Fair, held for the last time at ExCel before moving to Olympia next year!

IMG_0021

It was great to see many familiar faces including the gang from Local Wine SchoolInternational Wine Challenge, Ribafreixo, Alentejo, Portugal and Kathy from Jordan Winery, Stellenbosch, South Africa. We also had the pleasure of meeting Virginia Wines producer Andrew Hodson, Veritas Wines, whose Petit Verdot 2010 we were introduced to at a recent NEWTS tasting and a rather top wine it was too.

IMG_0030 IMG_0060 IMG_0052IMG_0039

We had the opportunity to try wines from new and far off places, Brazil, China, Japan, Georgia, India, Mexico, Peru, Ukraine but we were too late to try Thailand – already quaffed! It was great to see many English Wine Producers at the Hub’s pop-up tasting, including the multi-award winning Gusbourne Estate sparkling wine range (IWC, IWSC and Decanter).

However, it wasn’t all just tasting, there was learning to be done too! We attended Masterclasses and talks on:

IMAG2097 IMG_0010 IMG_0015IMG_0032 IMG_0050 IMG_0051IMG_0068

As an interlude, we headed to The Cork and Bottle Wine Bar, squeezed between retail outlets in Leicester Square, quite retro 80s in feel, reasonable selection of wines, especially liked the Callabriga 2008 from Douro, Portugal. On the food front, the mixed platter was a bit of a let down but the chips were good.

IMAG2099

Our own personal International Wine Challenge

Our own personal International Wine Challenge

“The Challenge can break you! Are you prepared for really hard work, emotionally and physically demanding, relentless and exhausting! You need to be sure you can handle this. Do you think you can?” Was more or less what we were asked at our interview in February when we jovially hopped into Chris’s office in London all excited about the prospect of being selected to work as part of the crew on the International Wine Challenge 2013. We were under no illusion that it was going to be tough and were already mentally preparing ourselves for it, but still to hear someone say that it has broken people was slightly freaky and I just hoped to God I could keep up the pace and not be weak.

Wow – we survived. We learnt a lot about wine and tasting, the competition judging process, working as part of an eclectic team of people, who we are proud to have worked with.

What a great experience!

942379_574825615881089_939143406_n

IMG_0040 IMAG1946 IMG_0042 IMG_0069 IMG_0044 IMG_0048 IMG_0054