The international wine challenge begins, and some nice beer, too

So the International Wine Challenge has begun. As a panel chair, I’m signed up for all two weeks of judging. I really enjoy it, working with a different panel each day. You get to meet lots of new people, as well as a chance to catch up with old friends. And because of the feedback system, most of the people tasting at the challenge are pretty good.

Last night we had a panel chairs’ dinner at the wonderful Providores, with four different wines. They deserve a mention.

Fefiñanes Albariño 2011 Rias Baixas, Spain
Such a beautiful wine. Lively and fresh with peach, pear and spice. Floral and textured with amazing precision. Pure and delicate. 93/100

Yalumba FDW(7c) Chardonnay 2009 Adelaide Hills, Australia
Very fine with lovely toast, white peach and pear notes as well as just a hint of matchstick and cabbage adding complexity. Fresh palate is fine with nice texture. Fine and expressive with lovely weight and great definition. 94/100

Viña Leyda Las Brisas Pinot Noir 2011 Leyda, Chile
Cherries, plum and spice with supple black cherry fruit and some bitter damson notes. Sweet and supple but there’s some reductive character that takes away from the elegance. Nice but could be really good without it. 90/100

Wine & Soul Pintas 2009 Douro, Portugal
Tried from two bottles: the second was better, and it’s that one I’ve produced this note from. Sweet, smooth and ripe with black cherry and spice notes and some mineral character. Ripe and sweet but fresh with real class. 94/100

And so today, it was off to Lord’s, where the wine challenge is being held for the second year in a row. We had a good day, my panel worked well, and it was enjoyable.

We finished the day with some Brewdog. Punk IPA and 5 am Saint went down very well, and after tasting a lot of wine it’s a brilliant way to wind down. I particularly enjoyed the 5 am Saint, which is rich, beautifully balance with nice hoppiness and also a bit of malty richness.

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