At Richmond Wine Society on Tuesday and Wednesday nights we tasted our way through some wines that for me, defined what the annual wine awards are about.
It’s easy to see these awards as the industry trying to drum up some hype, but my experience over the last few years has been that the Gold Medal and Trophy winners demonstrate a consistent theme: beautifully balanced wines, fruit, alcohol, oak and tannin in harmony, and at a range of price points that makes them accessible to everyone.
I haven’t judged at the awards myself, but I know they are demanding events with judges having to sample and judge hundreds of wines in a day. As a wine moves through its panels of judges, and approaches the possibility of a medal or trophy, it is judged by increasingly qualified and (sometimes) famous wine experts. That such lovely wines emerge from such an immense logistical exercise is a credit to the organisers. I particularly like the flexibility – if a wine deserves a trophy, then a trophy will be created to reward it! But that trophy won’t necessarily be awarded in subsequent years, and nor will the same number of Gold Medals be awarded every year.
For me, the star of the International Wine Challenge winners that we tasted was the Tasmanian Tolpuddle Pinot Noir 2013, a superb example of pinot grown in perfect conditions which won a trophy. Chateau Laville 2011, a Sauternes that I think offers great value, also won an IWC trophy, and was my favourite Gold Medal winner from the Decanter World Wine Awards. The 2014 ‘Terrapieno’ Pinot Grigio from Alpha Zeta in the Veneto was the star of the Sommelier Wine Awards – a glorious wine that proves pinot grigio is capable of great things without a silly price point. And I can still taste the 2012 Cuatro Pasos Mencia (an indigenous Spanish variety from Bierzo) which we enjoyed with the Britannia’s beef borguignon. The winner of the Wine Merchants Awards Great Value Trophy.
All these wines are available in the shop.