London Wine Competition: A Hotbed of Competition
Blondie, Sting, Mick Jagger, David Bowie to name but a few of the artistically, thoughtful and reflective photographed celebrities of the modern age, who adorned the walls of the London Wine Competition’s 2019 venue. On March 21-22,2019, the judging day, London Wine Competition invited stars of the UK trade to look for celebrities of their own – wine superstars. Judges evaluated some of the known, unknown and everything in between wines, brands, varieties and countries that will go on to grace the shelves of some of the most famous high street names, often grace the tables of celebrities and enjoy the greatest approval of all from the everyday drinker.
With 11 Masters of Wine, two Master Sommeliers, buyers from key retail and senior sommeliers from London’s fine dining scene, the backdrop could not be more fitting with many celebrities photographed by snapper of the stars, Brian Aris featuring on the walls of the competition venue.
Nine teams of judges lined up to taste hundreds of entries, increasing by 40% on 2018. The London Wine Competition judges its entries in a different way to traditional wine competitions, reflecting the way that the real consumer judges and selects wines.
The judges begin with taste and quality always a critical part. If there isn’t quality in the bottle then customer just won’t buy again. Each team of judges has a Master of Wine or Master Sommelier on it, together with 3 or 4 experienced tasters and commercial traders. They judge the wines individually and their scores are taken uniquely to contribute to the overall final score. Quality is evaluated blind – each bottle is wrapped in an opaque bag without sight of the capsule or label. They are asked to score the wine purely on its quality as seen in the ISO glass in front of them. Looking, smelling, swilling, tasting, analysing and scoring, the judges taste around 80 wines in a day tasting. Following their organoleptic evaluation, a score is awarded out of 100.
Whilst this is manor from heaven for lay people, this swooning idea is mostly a creation of the imagination as they conjure up the image of their favourite Friday night tipple perhaps.
On a professional basis it is different. For the novice the understanding and profound examination is a rewarding experience and in equal measure for those who have been tasting for many years. For the trade apprentice or starter there is the opening up of worlds of flavour and discovery that they never realised existed previously.
For the seasoned pro there is the reward, I imagine, similar to that of an experienced dry stone-waller completing a stretch of challenging rampart, fitting all the stones in. Albeit that they are irregular shapes and sizes, as one, they form a raw beauty, unique and unparalleled anywhere else. Similarly, with wine tasting. It is never complete, over a lifetime of tasting, the evaluater builds a bank of knowledge and understanding like no other, creating pictures, moments in time, of wines, their colours, their smells, their taste, reputation and consistency, or otherwise. A flight of London Wine Competition wines is that piece of challenging stone wall, which shows itself as unique at a moment in time. Each wine is a knowledge stone, a distinctive unique shape, filled with crevices of sensory attributes, that may be judged to excite and elaborate or render the imagination numb, if the wine makes a feature of its neutrality. Fortunately the vast majority of wines have something to say, their crafter and maker asserting a personality through this vinous liquid. As a wine is tasted, and eventually revealed, it builds a picture in the tasters mind forming part of their vast tasting wall built with passion and determined effort over time.
Quality is given double the potential points that either value or presentation is given, because of the importance that this aspect plays in the wine’s overall perspective.
Next comes value. The wines price is placed against the product and a score awarded on the basis of its quality for the money. Scored out of 100, a wine which is judged to be excellent value will score 100/100, if the wine should be priced lower according to the judge then it scores a corresponding score. Good value between 61 and 80, somewhat 41 to 60, not really 26-40, not at all 0-25.
Next comes the most telling aspect of London Wine Competition judging – packaging. Many judges exclaim how fantastic this part of the London Wine Competition is, some even suggesting that the look of the bottle influences what they think about the quality of the wine inside the bottle. Judges are asked to evaluate label, bottle colour, shape and closure, in the eyes of the consumer. In other words when this bottle ends up on a shelf, amongst the many other wines from around the world, how will it really stack up?
Of course we will not know the answer until the results are published on April 30th. That is when we will find out the identity of the next batch of wine superstars including Wine of the Year, Winery of the Year, Best in Show Wine (by variety, Best in Show Wine (by country) Best Wine of the Year (by packaging).
Like the seasoned photographer, Brian Aris, who was responsible for those portaits mentioned in the introduction, the London Wine Competition will take you on a journey around the world. However its purpose is to show off the celebrities of the wine world, as opposed to those of the rock world. Enjoy the ride.
Be the first to get the winners’ list. Fill up the form on the website (https://londonwinecompetition.com/) and we would send the names of the winning wines in your inbox by 30th April, 2019.
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