This is a brief report from London where in April I was once again a member of the judging team at Decanter World Wine Awards (DWWA). This was my third year as a judge and I again sat on the Rhône panel, under the leadership of King Roan, John Livingstone-Learmonth.
This year drew the largest number of wines in the annals of the competition with some 14,000 wines presented by makers from every region in the wine world. Over five days some 225 judges worked on regional panels from 9:30 am to whenever, to taste and assess the wines. The judges work in tables of 4 members, the wines are tasted blind and each wine is awarded a score based on a table conclusion reached by the 4 judges. The process is intense, fair and rigorous.
The Rhône team is generally known for two things: we are slow and deliberate and we are somewhat niggardly when it comes to awarding gold medals. The niggardly reputation is unfair as often the wines presented are not representative of the best the region can deliver. This year we broke out of the mold and awarded 9 golds, a record for the region.
This performance is fully due to the quality of the wines we tasted. The exciting aspect of the golds is they were all from the excellent 2011 and 2010 vintages, they were a mix of reds and whites and they were all wines that will sell at value-prices. Côtes du Rhône and C-d-R Villages showed exceptionally well. The whites were a highlight and the quality of natural winemaking is on the up-tick in the region.
This said, team-Rhône continued to distinguish itself with a deliberate and unmatched pace.
The annual DWWA issue of Decanter magazine is now on newsstands. Get your copy to learn more about the medallists.
Check out the Clos Petite Bellane La Petite Bellane white Côtes du Rhône Villages 2010. This was the first white we tasted on Day 1 and it was selected as an International Trophy Winner as the best white blend under ₤10.
Canada was well-represented among the judges with Tony Aspler, Rhys Pender, MW, Barbara Phillip, MW and me. I should also include among the Canadians Ian D’Agata who carries a Canadian passport who co-chaired the Italy panel. Ian lives in Rome. and is one of the leading writers on the wines of Italy.
Tony shared some good news with me and Ian one morning at breakfast. He has been named to the Wine Writers Hall of Fame and will be fêted in New York next month when he is inducted to the Hall, along with New York Times wine writer, Eric Asimov, NY Times alum Terry Robards and – a name from the past – the late Maynard Amerine, a long-time California expert credited with being at the forefront of the ascendancy of California after the repeal of Prohibition. Congratulations, Tony. Well done and well-deserved!
Copyright© W. John Switzer 2003 – 2012.