Today is May Day. And last week, I sometimes felt like crying for help after tasting over 80 wines per day for Decanter Magazine's World Wine awards. Some 150 judges tasted 14,000 wines in a single week. It was intense, and even tiring, but oh-so rewarding.
I had been originally assigned to taste Bordeaux all week, but thankfully spaces opened in the German and Alsatian categories, so that I tasted Bordeaux three days out of five, and then one day German wines, another day Alsatian. Great to taste primarily Alsatian Gewürztraminers (yes, some were flabby, but a couple were amazingly good in their crazy cheap price categories of being up to 15 pounds per bottle), but perhaps the most interesting day was spent tasting German wines, because I do not do that often enough.
All tastings were blind, but we had detailed information sheets, indicating region, blend, alcohol and acidity and rs levels, and price points (A being really cheap and J being over 200 pounds sterling per bottle). We did have a couple of magnificent Trockenbeerenauslesen wines in the I category (btw 150 and 200 pounds), earning gold medals (at least 18.5 on the 20 point scale), but - surprise, surprise - a couple of quite fine German reds, too. Yes, there were some that were quite bad, too - and expensive.
For example, I gave flight 11, wine number 5, which costs between 50 and 100 pounds per bottle (wide range, yes), 13 points, which is very low on the 20 point scale: "chemical fruit nose, disjointed, alcohol and acidity both painful"...
But especially reds we tried from the Pfalz and Ahr regions performed well. Take flight 11, wine number 7, which costs only between 10 and 15 pounds: 17 points, smooth and flavorful, fine mid palate, long on the finish... Consensus from the entire group, silver medal, meaning that the score was between 17 and 18.5 points.
As you can see in the video below, groups did not always agree, in this somewhat amusing example of a German Chardonnay. World Wine Awards chairman Steven Spurrier stepped in to offer his opinion, as he did in such rare cases.
As for tasting Bordeaux, I have to say that young Bordeaux from the Right Bank in 2009 and 2010, when tasting over 80 bottles per day, can be trying! There were some fine wines, of course, but rarely any golds. The price category was lowish, ranging from Bordeaux AOC and Bordeaux Superieur to satellite appellations from the Right Bank. Although I also tasted a string of fine Margaux cru bourgeois from the 2009 vintage, with several reaching silver rankings, as well as some Saint Emilion GCCs.
Read and view more about my experience tasting in London last week for Decanter, HERE.
le vin est le génial breuvage qui nous donne du courage
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