My third day of judging on the Loire panel at the 2012 Decanter World Wine Awards has drawn to a close; it has been another long day of tasting. Keeping me company today were panel chair Jim Budd, and two figures already seen this week, Nigel Wilkinson (who judged with us yesterday) and Ken MacKay (who judged with us on Monday). Despite this being the third day our room (shown below, one of many) was as busy as ever, full of tasters looking at everything from Bordeaux and Regional France, to Port, Maderia and the wines of the Middle East and Far East.
We kicked off this morning with yet more Sauvignon Blanc. I guess that is hardly surprising; from a commercial point of view, Sauvignon Blanc – wearing a myriad of different appellation labels from the grand to the obscure – is of great importance to the Loire. Regular readers will know it is not these wines that draw me to the Loire, but the less commercial – and yet infinitely more interesting – wines of the Loire heartlands, Touraine and Anjou, and in more recent years Muscadet too. Nevertheless I’m certainly up for judging these wines, dishing out criticisms or medals as appropriate. Apart from a flight of wines from Cheverny (all Sauvignon and Chardonnay blends) and a single Cour-Cheverny (an appellation purely for Romorantin) this morning was entirely devoted to 2011 Sancerre.
We finished up with several flights of reds (just a small selection shown above), all Cabernet Franc or Cabernet Sauvignon, from the famous Touraine appellations (Chinon, Bourgueil, St Nicolas de Bourgueil) as well as Anjou (straight Anjou and Anjou-Villages). These were (like the Sancerres) rather variable in quality, although here there were a number of different vintages involved, including 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011.
That’s it for this year as far as I am concerned, although I know Jim, Nigel and two as yet unnamed Loire experts will be exploring the delights of the Loire’s sparkling wines, pink wines, older white Sancerres, red Sancerre, Gamay and probably other obscure oddities tomorrow. Naturally I will be thinking of them. With a sense of envy, obviously.