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.
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.
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!
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.
An occasion that we had been looking forward to was a trip to The Assembly Rooms on George Street in Edinburgh to see Oz Clarke, Tim Atkin and Olly Smith at their Three Wine Men event. A leisurely drive up to Edinburgh didn’t leave us much time to check into our B&B, Dalry Guesthouse, and get across the assault course of tram works between Haymarket and the City Centre. Therefore, we arrived with all of 30 seconds to spare at Olly Smith’s Waxing Lyrical about Weird Wines.
Featured wines were:
Rockburn Pinot Gris, 2011, New Zealand, #strictlywine
Gaia Wild Ferment Assyrtiko, 2012, Greece, #hedonismwines – Our top pick
Roccolo Grassi Valpolicella, 2008, Italy, #wineman- Kel’s top pick
Andeluna Malbec, 2012, Argentina, #spiritedwines
Kel got a mention from Olly and round of applause in celebration of his stripy jacket …
Later in the day, Tim Atkin presented cheese and wine matching with Tanny Gill of Tanny Gill Cheese and what a fabulous matching it was:
Chapel Down Bacchus, 2011 with Connage Crowdie (cow’s milk), Inverness, Scotland.
Jurancon Sec, Chant des Vignes, Domaine Cauhape, 2012 with Bonnet (hard goat’s milk), Stewarton, Scotland.
Faldeos Nevados Malbec, 2011 with Admiral Collingwodd (hard cow’s milk), Northumberland (stinky but oh so good!)
Bleasdale, The Wise One Tawny 10 year old, Langhorne Creek with Harrogate Blue.
In between these wonderful Masterclasses, we did a tour of the main hall where 27 suppliers were showcasing wines, cheese, fudge, Riedel glassware, as well as a WSET stand. Tim Atkin was displaying his photography, whilst Olly and Oz were promoting their latest books.
Majestic Wine, Caixas Godello Martin Codax, 2012, Spain – very drinkable.
Wines of Portugal, Alvarinho Solar de Serrade, 2012, Portugal – zesty.
Wines of Portugal, Pato Frio Antao Vaz, 2011, Portugal – nice to taste again.
Wines of Portugal, Quinta de Saes Encruzado, 2011, Portugal
The Wine Society, Castillo del Baron Monastrell, Yecla, 2012, Spain
The Wine Society, Vinha do Reino, Douro, 2010, Portugal – we liked this.
The Wine Society, Pitti (Pittnauer), 2011, Austria – impressed.
Falcon Wine Ltd, Herdade Tapada do Falcao, Rocha Rosa, 2009, 2010, 2011, Portugal
Wines of Brasil, Aurora Pinot Noir, 2012
Wines of Brasil, Lido Carraro Dadivas Pinot Noir, 2010
Lidl UK, Medoc AC, 2011, France
Lidl UK, Chateauneuf du Pape AOP, 2012, France – not bad at all.
Wines of Chile, Valdivieso Reserva Pinot Noir, 2011, Casablanca Valley, Chile
Wines of Chile, Valdivieso Single Vineyard Merlot 2009, Sagrada Familia, Curico Valley, Chile – full bodied, dark and smooth, ummm.
Wines of Chile, Carmen Carmenere Gran Reserva, 2011, Apalta, Colchagua, Chile
Wines of Chile, Novas Gran Reserva Carmenere Cabernet Sauvignon, 2010, Colchagua, Chile – Kel liked this one.
Vino Wines, Thorn Clarke Mount Crawford Riesling, 2012, Australia
Diemersfontein Coffee Pinotage, 2011, South Africa
California Wines, Parducci Small Lot Petite Sirah, 2009, California
California Wines, Bonterra Zinfandel, 2010, California – juicy, fruity and drinkable.
Morrisons, Jackson Estate Stich Sauvignon Blanc, 2011, New Zealand
Morrisons, Castigilione Barbaresco, 2009, Italy – Kel liked this one.
L’Art du Vin, Velvet, Gerhard Pittnauer, NV, Burgenland, Austria – light and fruity.
L’Art du Vin, Mencia, Pittacum, 2007, Bierzo, Spain
Yapp Brothers, Savoie L’Orangiere: Tiollier Freres, 2012, France – fresh and smooth lemon.
Yapp Brothers, Crozes Hermitage: Alain Graillot, 2011, France
Waitrose, Magnus Hill Chardonnay, 2012, Australia
Reuben’s Wine Store, Circle of Life White, 2011, South Africa
Halewood Romania, Sebes Alba Sauvignon Blanc, 2012, Romania
Mud House Wine Company, Mud House South Island Pinot Gris, 2011, New Zealand
Mud House Wine Company, Mud House Gewürztraminer, 2010, New Zealand – we liked this one.
The day was nicely rounded off by a trip to Bon Vivant, Thistle Street, for a lovely glass of Villa Wolf, Riesling Dry, 2011 for Ruth and Alvarinho, Adega de Moncao, Portugal for Kel, followed by The Oxford Bar, Young Street (drinking hole of Ian Rankin’s TV Detective Rebus) for a pint with Oz Clarke.
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:
An easy drinking wine, juicy with fresh red fruits and soft tannins, great value retailing at £8.99.
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.
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!