Judging for the Decanter World Wine Awards began this morning; as usual I’m judging the Loire category, which is – as always – being chaired by Jim Budd (pictured below).
It was an early start for me to be here; my alarm was set for 4am, but for some reason I woke up at 3:30am and figured I might as well get up then! My flight from Edinburgh went smoothly, and I hopped onto (a) the Gatwick shuttle, (b) the Gatwick Express and (b) a Circle Line train, in each case just as the doors slid shut. It was a masterclass in good timing! Why can’t life always be like that?
The morning was taken up by Loire Sauvignon Blanc, the afternoon by Muscadets (as can be seen on the tasting sheet above), in both cases mostly from the 2011 vintage. I was surprised by the results; many of the Sauvignons struggled, everything from issues of ripeness to rot. So I expected worse with the Muscadets, the 2011 vintage having been plagued with rot. But it wasn’t to be; there were a lot of lovely wines here, and we displayed unusual extravagance (for the Loire panel) by awarding two silvers, as well as a small handful of bronzes and commendations.
The panel was of a very high quality; alongside Jim and myself there was Yves Desmaris MS (above left), who works with chef Gary Rhodes, and Ken MacKay MW (above right), who buys for Waitrose (including responsibility for the Loire – so UK readers have him to thank for Waitrose listing the wines of Domaine Huet and Jacky Blot). Clearly I was the weak link in this highly qualified group of tasters – I was lucky to be allowed to sit at the same table! Ken in particular had some great insights and made some very incisive comments on the wines. Waitrose are lucky to have him.
Tomorrow: who knows? Maybe some more Sauvignon Blanc?