Champagne, City and the last day of the Challenge

Spent the day at Lord’s today, for the final day of the International Wine Challenge. Just a small band of 12 tasters, deciding on the final trophies and value awards. Remarkably, the sun was out and the home of cricket was looking its normal lovely self. I’ve enjoyed the last couple of weeks a good [...]

The siren call of wine

Wine has a strange ability to draw people in. To win their hearts.

I don’t quite understand it, but there’s something special about wine. Wine makes people want to work hard for low pay, just because they love the stuff.

It makes them want to study hard educating themselves.

It causes people to travel the world’s wine regions [...]

1952 Colheita from Graham for the Diamond Jubilee

Old wines? I love them. And some of the best old wines are fortified wines: Madeira, Vintage Port, Tawny Port and VORS Sherry.

This is a 60 year old single-vintage Tawny Port (the official name for vintage dated Tawnies is Colheita), released to commerate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. It’s fabulous and expensive, but good value when [...]

Loimer Gruner Veltliner Lois: great wine, great packaging

Lunch at the BFI today, on the south bank of the Thames, near Waterloo. The Benugo restaurant is actually pretty good, and I had a very well presented starter of duck egg on salad, followed by a perfectly cooked fillet of sea bass on some wilted spinach.

All was washed down with Fred Loimer’s Lois Gruner [...]

IWC, the final day

Table 9, day 9

So, tasting has finished at the world’s biggest and best blind tasting wine competition. Day 9 of judging at the International Wine Challenge was, from the perspective of table 9 at least, a very good one, with some nice wines.

Preparing a pitch at Lord's

We began the day with a flight of vintage [...]

Pago de Los Capellanes Reserva 2007, and day 8 of the IWC

Table 9, day 8

Back to the home of cricket for day 8 of the International Wine Challenge. It was another wet, cold day, but I had another good table, and although we worked hard, finishing after 5 pm, it was an enjoyable day’s work. There’s a reason that we have four or five judges [...]

Days 6 and 7 of the IWC

I am officially tired. The last two days of the International Wine Challenge have been fun, but hard work. It takes a lot of concentration to judge wines well, and for the last two days we have been into week 2, where we get to award medals to the wines that survived last week’s cut.

Vineyards have a talent

I remember a discussion with Ernie Loosen in the Mosel, Germany. He said that each of his vineyards had specific talents. Rather than try to make a full range of sweetness levels from each, he tried to pick the appropriate sweetness level for the Riesling from each particular vineyard, vintage depending. Some vineyards were great [...]

Day 5 of the IWC, and some comments on faults

The first week of the International Wine Challenge has ended. A great week, and the new venue, Lord’s, has been great.

OK, the lunches aren’t quite as good as the Michelin-star level creations of Searcy’s at the Barbican, but they’re still well above par – two courses, plenty of variety. The Barbican was logistically ideal, but [...]

Day 4 at the International Wine Challenge

Table 9

Another good day at the Challenge. After two big days (of 160 and 140 wines), our panel today worked at a slightly slower pace, taking more time to decide over some rather tricky flights.

A mixed collection of southern French whites, from a wide array of grape varieties, proved quite a challenge to score. [...]