For the last couple of days I have been at The Oval (one of London’s two major cricket grounds) judging in the International Wine Challenge. It’s the second year where the judging has been divided into two tranches. This is tranche 1 of 2015, and the second (and larger) tranche will be held in April over two weeks. The idea is that the competition catches both southern and northern hemisphere wines at the optimum time for judging. It also allows the competition to grow, without compromising the judging process.
So for two days 14 tables, each led by a panel chair, have been sorting through the entries. This first stage involves deciding whether or not a wine is medal worthy. Anything kicked out is then retasted by one of the co-chairs who make sure no good wines have been unfairly eliminated. On Thursday we’ll be awarding medals to the surviving wines. Once again, co-chairs will check all the results, to ensure consistency. Any gold medal wines will he held for trophy judging at the end of tranche 2.
I have had two fun days working with great panels, including an associate each day – the associates are there to learn, and it represents a really good educational opportunity. Also the panel leaves feedback on us panel chairs, and we leave feedback on our team’s performance. This helps ensure that the judging process is as good as possible. On Thursday I’ll be joining the co-chairs, helping them out, and that will be a tough – but fun – day too.
The best bit about all this? Hanging out with wine trade colleagues, and making new connections. It’s such a lovely business to be involved with, full of lovely, interesting people. Long may this continue.