In April of this year I was fortunate enough to be invited to attend the Concours Mondial de Bruxelles as a judge. For the first few years this wine competition was held in Brussels, as its name implies. However, the event has grown and now tours Europe, having been in Maastricht in 2007, Bordeaux in 2008 and Valencia in 2009 and will be held in Palermo, Sicily in 2010. In my job I spend a great deal of time alone, working by myself at a keyboard, so the few times that I get out and meet fellow members of the trade are a real bonus and I try to make the most of them. What makes the Concours especially great is that it is a truly international competition with judges from 41 countries. It is really useful to hear all these varied points of view about wines and to realise that we are all passionate about quality in wine. It is wonderful that a consensus about the truly great wines always emerges very quickly, quality is universal.
All my friends envy me my trips to the Concours and frankly belittle my claims that it is hard work, but it is. We taste hundreds of wines and it says much for the professionalism of the organisation and my fellow tasters that it seems to go off without a hitch and is always a lovely experience.
The competition itself is spread over three days and we are divided up into juries of four tasters with a chairman keeping us in order, my boss this year was the delightful Sue Van Wyk from South Africa who kept things moving along very smoothly. The wines are then divided up into flights of between ten and twenty five wines and it is our job to assess them and award a score out of 100. The best wines win Silver, Gold or Great Gold Medals.
We always have some wonderful wines to judge, but this year was my favourite, a bumper crop and I awarded a staggering thirteen Gold Medals.
These wines were found to be the overall best in their category:
Best Sparkling: Champagne Bourgeois Cuvée du Dernier Siècle, Brut Millésimé 2002
Best Sweet: Nes Passito di Pantelleria 2007, Italy
Best Red: Protos Crianza 2006, Ribera del Duero, Spain
Best White: Adega Vila Real Grande Reserva 2005, Douro, Portugal (I gave this 94 points, my highest scoring white wine of the competition)
Best Rosé: Chiaretto Giovanni Avanzi 2008, Garda Classico, Italy
Personally I would also like to mention these wines that I found especially good and awarded high marks:
Pérez Cruz Limitada Syrah Reserva Limited Edition 2007, Chile – Gold Medal
Caliterra Tributo Shiraz 2007, Chile – Gold Medal
Cune Crianza Rioja 2005, Spain – Silver Medal
Tabali Reserva Especial Syrah 2007 - Silver Medal
So, if you want to have reassurance when buying wine, look for the sticker that shows it has won a medal at The Concours Mondial de Bruxelles. It is a guarantee of excellence and will sure to be an enjoyable bottle of wine.