The last two days I've spent judging the top 100 Vin de Pays competition. As part of a 16-strong team of elite tasters (of whom I was the junior and least of all), we whittled 2000 wines down to just 100, with 12 trophy winners. We worked in teams of three, and it was actually pretty good fun. On Thursday I was with Sam Harrop MW (consultant) and Jo Aherne (M&S) (pictured), and today I was with Chris Hardy (Majestic) and Anthony Rose (The Independent).
It's useful to taste with experienced tasters, and then share perceptions. It's a learning experience and you can't have too many of those. Overall thoughts? Some really nice wines, but Merlot (especially) and Cabernet in the Languedoc are a bit of a waste of time. Ditto for Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay, which tend to make very boring wines. The organization of the tasting, by Sopexa, was great, and Tim Atkin chaired the whole event with good humour and professionalism.