June 2012 Editorial - Gong of Gongs
by Anthony Rose
Did you get a gong last week? NO? Can you live with yourself?
It was Gong of Gongs week and if you failed to make the gong grade then what exactly was the point of getting out of bed? It’s a cruel world that fails to recognise one’s talents. First up at the London International Wine Fair the Decanter and International Wine Challenge gold medals were announced with trophies to be given out at their respective black tie dinners, usually held, for those who enjoy such occasions on consecutive evenings in early September. Then along came the Drinks Business Man of the Year Award and the inaugural Harpers Awards recognizing the achievements of various people in the wine industry, not forgetting the Imbibe Personality of the Year Awards, doing much the same again, but not necessarily to the same people.
I was just about to send my congratulations to Emily O’Hare of the River Café for winning the Harpers Sommelier of the Year Award when another tweet came through announcing that Jan Konetzki at Gordon Ramsay had just won the Moët et Chandon Sommelier of the Year. I became confused about who to be congratulating but tweeted ‘congratulations to all worthy winners’ anyway. In the midst of all this, the grandly titled Born Digital Awards were announced to virtual fanfare at the London International Wine Fair recognizing the contributions of the bloggers and tweeters to the social media world. A Frenchman next to me muttered about a Tweet of Ze Year award but I suspect it was just sour grapes on his part.
Then something calling itself the 10 in 10 For Business Awards by Wine Intelligence was announced at the London International Wine Fair, creating enormous logistical problems for anyone clever enough to have been awarded awards at both awards ceremonies. Hands were shaken, backs duly patted and acceptance speeches made underlining the extraordinary importance of the award and the astonishing perceptiveness of those giving the gongs. They followed in the wake of an artcle in trade journal Off-Licence News telling us who the 75 most influential people in wine were. At least there were no awards involved, saving Off-Licence News valuable resources and sparing us from having to attend yet another awards ceremony.
Even The Wine Gang got in on the act by holding our inaugural Best of Show Awards at the London International Wine Fair. We tasted our way around the LIWF, shortlisted 33 wines and showered the wine industry with four – thoroughly well-deserved – gongs, one of which we presented to Peter Gago of Penfolds, who’d just hot-footed it across the hall from receiving the Drinks Business Man of the Year Award. A lot of people came to the stand and photographed the event as our very own Jane Parkinson dramatically unveiled the winners.Scroll down for our full notes on all 33 wines as this month's bonus report.
Too many awards in the drinks industry? Get real, I’m off to judge the Louis Roederer Awards for Best Wine Writer. I’ve always believed that giving was better than receiving.
This month's top scoring wines
Graham's Diamond Jubilee Colheita Port 1952
Douro, Portugal, Fortified (Cork), 20.0% abv.
Never mind its collectability, the coffee and caramel whiff of this mahogany brown tawny is complemented by complex, aged 'rancio' nuttiness reminiscent of old Madeira while the 'Angel's Share' evaporation over decades brings an intensity and concentration of dried apricot and figgy fruit that's at once both opulent, spicy and nutty and balanced by a remarkable zesty freshness. Find on wine-searcher.com
£275.00 at Berry Bros & Rudd
CVNE Rioja Reserva Imperial 2004
Rioja, Spain, Dry Red (Cork), 14.0% abv.
There's a little of top Rioja's gentle game and bloody character, plenty of spice and dark, dramatic richness. Vanilla and creamy blackcurrant dominate the fruit profile which is appealing and youthful. The palate has superb juiciness, fantastic clarity to the tannins and the acids, but never at the expense of that core of fruit. Superb length and balance, and must be a candidate for a decade of cellaring. Find on wine-searcher.com
£17.99 at The Co-operative
The Wine Gang's Best in Show finalists
Overall Winner and Best Sparkling Wine
Coates & Seely, Blanc de Blanc 2007, England
Beautifully poised, Chardonnay nose, touch of biscuit, but taut, apple and citrus tang – English apples – with delicious bite, a real juicy, perfumed apple fruit on the palate and so much lemony tang and finesse. 94/100.
Best Red Wine
Penfold's, Cellar Reserve Mataro 2010, Australia
Loads of deep, American oak spice and coconut, but has a perfumed, fragrant fruit character showing richness and pepper, plenty of garrigue too in a polished, svelte style. Long and deliciously creamy and ripe. 94/100.
Best White Wine
Waterkloof, Circle of Life White 2011, South Africa
Beautiful nose, a lot of almond and honey, ripe apples and the oak. Nutty, rich and textured on the palate, some roasted lemon fruit, but beautiful length and balance. Well managed oak, and superbly drinkable. 93/100.
Best Fortified Wine
Bodegas Hidalgo, La Gitana En Rama Sherry, Spain
Nutty, ozone, lemon and creamy quality, real sea-breeze freshness. Creamy, bone-dry, mineral freshness with salty, nutty flavours and a searingly dry finish with a flash of marmite, but so beautifully tangy. 93/100.
The other finalists - RED
Domaine de Saint Ennemond, Brouilly 2011, France
Not in the ultra sappy style, with its lovely, bright, juicy but creamy ripe fruit. Beautifully balanced Beaujolais. 89/100.
Kavaklidere, Kalecik Karasi Prestige 2009, Turkey
Bright, rich, perhaps a touch chewy in the tannin and plenty of acidity that adds drinkability, but perhaps slightly short the finish in this company. 86/100.
Soter, Mineral Springs Ranch Pinot Noir, Oregon
Slightly smoky cherry and dark berry fruit, with a fresh palate showing a bit of structure and complexity. Still youthful, impressive Pinot. 90/100.
Vinakras, Izbrani Teran 2011, Slovenia
Very vibrant colour, with a sappy, beetroot and Indian ink quality, meaty too. Lovely acidity that refreshes with its damson-skin bite. An honest, delicious wine. Good fruit. 88/100.
Liliac, Blue Moon Feteasca Negra/Merlot 2011, Hungary
A bit of smokiness, pepper and almost smoky bacon notes, deliciously juicy on the palate, with a sinewy tannin and acid structure, a touch of saline minerality, but the fruit sweetness is there. 91/100.
Benanti, Serra della Contessa Etna Rosso 2006, Italy
Big, hot, lightly baked berry fruit, with a hint of barnyard, lovely sense of baked earth terroir. Palate is dry, but has delicious fruit sweetness, with lovely acidity and intensity. 90/100
Crossroads Winery, Hawkes Bay Syrah 2009, New Zealand
Nice, lightly lifted pepper and rosemary nose, a touch of meatiness – very northern Rhone-like Syrah. Lovely wine, balanced, perhaps doesn’t quite have the definition and polish for tops marks, but delicious. 88/100.
Pitchfork Cabernet/Merlot 2010, Australia
Leafy green note, with a perhaps a touch too much green, but a nice sense of elegance and food-friendly dryness. 87/100.
Chateau Musar, Hochar 2005, Lebanon
Slight volatility, lifted, chunky fruit, very nice cherry bakewell character on the palate, slightly hot on the finish, but an idiosyncratic wine with loads of genuine character and typically Musar. 88/100.
Quinta da Dona, Bairrada Tinto 2009, Portugal
Reserved but intense nose, classically structured with a nice oak quality, the palate has good sweet fruit, some real finesse and very harmonious. Not hugely complex, but lovely stuff. 89/100.
G.D. Vajra, Langhe Nebbiolo 2010, Italy
Spicy, bright raspberry and red berry fruit character, quite a big, powerful wine with quite big tannins, a dry finish, very pure, very long, beautifully fresh but structured. 90/100.
M&S Ogier Le Temps est Venu 2010, France
Dark, liquorice and aniseed nose, a bit of meatiness, quite youthful and primary, not hugely complex, but has a rustic charm, and delicious open honesty. 87/100.
Domaine Tournon, Shays Flat Vineyard Shiraz 2009, Australia
Tomato leaf and pepper, with some creosote, and peppery Shiraz character, briary, ripe, lots of tannin and acid freshness. 90/100.
Humilitat, Priorat 2009,Spain
Focused, mineral nose, dense and meaty, big and chewy on the palate with smoky, bitter chocolate and plush black berry fruit. A touch of coffee and chunky gravelly, tannins. A big wine, but has a creamy plushness, even though the heat and almost raisiny ripeness is there. 91/100.
Fuedo di Santa, Tresa Frappato, Sicily, Italy
A little too reductive for comfort, a touch green, but an interesting nose. Juicy, interesting pasta-basher, and if the price is good, a nice food-friendly style. 86/100.
The other finalists - WHITE
Cartanega, Sauvignon Blanc 2011, Chile
Huge sugar snap pea nose, lots of asparagus and vivid punch. Pithy grapefruit palate, loads of good balancing acidity, deliciously fresh and long, poised and intelligent stuff. 90/100.
Cederberg, Chenin Blanc 2011, South Africa
More restrained, but still has vivacious punch and some of those herbal aromatics. A little bit pear droppy and cold-ferment character. 86/100.
Lilac, Blue Moon Sauvignon Blanc 2011, Romania
Sour pear confectionery character, with again that slightly saline note, but the choc-lime confectionery character, with a nice clean finish. 88/100.
Jako, Posip Brac 2011, Croatia
White pepper spice, fresh herbs and zesty with loads of citrus and a fresh, rounded, but crisply defined maritime character with a lick of minerality. 90/100.
Emiliano, Signos de Origen White 2011, Chile
Blast of asparagus and crunchy very ripe, with tropical fruit notes against toasty oak. Rich on the palate, with tropical, lychee and mango fruit. Substantial stuff with gorgeous power and a serious wine, and good acidity too. 90/100.
Puklavec, Furmint 2011, Slovenia
Very pretty, appealing aromas, with lemons and sunflower seeds, a touch of Gavi-ish quality and such a fresh palate, perhaps a touch light, but we love the freshness, clarity and flavour. 91/100.
Ailala, Treixadura Ribeiro 2010, Spain
Gently floral touches, a lot of citrus and touch of peachiness, apricot, but the palate is a little dilute perhaps. 86/100.
Marof, Lazski Riesling et tu Petrus 2011, Slovenia
Pear droppy, tanky, youthful nose, quite primary and fresh, but fresh and herby, crunchy apple fruitiness. 85/100.
Jean Orliac Loup y Es-Tu? Blanc 2011, France
Grapey, floral, stone fruits and some peachy fruit coming through. On the palate it has Viognier's apricot oiliness, with lovely sweet fruit powering through the mid palate and a fresh, crunching, vibrant finish. 90/100.
The other finalists - ROSÉ, SWEET and FORTIFIED
Vinya Leyda Pinot Noir Rosé 2011, Chile
Lovely dry, reducrranty and slightly briary, serious stuff with tannins, real grip and bags of Pinot character and flavour. 87/100.
Wirra Wirra, Mrs Wigley Moscato 2011, Australia
Ice cream and American cream soda, pretty nose, perhaps not as convincing on the palate, but crowd-pleasing, if a touch synthetic on close consideration. 84/100
Tio Pepe, Fino Sherry En Rama, Spain
A more varnishy, nutty, super-fresh nose than our winning En Rama from Hidalgo, but we loved this too with its marmite, yeasty nose and wonderfully breezy and fresh smoky bacon flavour and tangy closing acidity. 92/100.