Monday, 12 April 2010

Well what a week that was!

I arrived to a pre-volcanic ash London last Wednesday in time for the world renowned International Wine Challenge where I have been invited to be a wine judge along with other wine professionals.

The tasting started at 9am. in the Barbican in central London, on arrival I was given the usual name badge, pen, clipboard and bumf before being introduced to the 5 person team that I would be working with for the day. The wines are all tasted blind but in loosely categorized flights of a varying number of bottles. Behind the scenes it is impressively organised and a team of people or runners effortlessly deliver the endless rows of numbered bottles in the hall to the tasting room!

Once in position, everybody in the team tastes the wines and makes notes awarding levels of acceptance and if the wine merits one, a medal. Any faulty bottles were immediately replaced on request for re-tasting and when we had all tasted, each bottle was discussed until a final conclusion was drawn with the help of an appointed experienced team leader.

Once one flight had finished we turned to the table behind and the next flight was laid out ready with bottles in order, clean glasses and new tasting sheets. During the next flight, our previous table was cleaned and set up for our next tasting.

We alternated between these two tables from 9am to 6pm, stopping only for a quick lunch. We tasted hundreds of wines and it was a very interesting experience indeed – meeting and making contacts with all walks of life from the wine trade. My personal highlights were the dry reds from Portugal and the beautiful fruit on the 2009 Côtes du Rhône reds.

After we finished I couldn’t resist hopping on the tube to have my first look at our new wine store in Vinopolis. The shop is just incredible and the lighting, huge tasting table and of course the fantastic range of wines on offer easily allowed me to muster the energy to taste a few more wines!

In the evening I met up with my friends Ben and Karen who have been living in South America for the past few years for some lovely refreshing real ales in the Brew Wharf micro brewery in Borough Market – can’t get those in France!


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