Today was a good day judging at the Decanter World Wine Awards. I think the strongest feature of these awards is the regional focus, and I always judge on the Loire panel. And always intend to, for as long as they keep inviting me back, anyway.
Today’s panel was a strong one; pictured below are panel chairman Jim Budd (on the right) who I suspect needs no introduction. He appears to be listening intently here to fellow panel member Véronique Rivest (on the left), who came fresh from success in a global sommelier competition in Tokyo, where she finished in second place. She is French-Canadian, and has a newspaper column and radio slot as well as working as a sommelier.
Also on the panel was Richard Kelley MW (pictured below, deeply engrossed in a glass of Cheverny, his new favourite appellation). I have a lot of respect for Richard, who knows his stuff and knows the Loire very well, but this is the first chance I have had to taste alongside him. As I expected, I learnt from him during the course of the day, as I listened to his opinions on the wines. Judging with Decanter can be very beneficial that way, I have found.
The tasting day went smoothly; organisation here, led by Sarah Kemp and her team, is always good. Today started with Muscadet, where there were some good wines, with the 2009 and 2012 vintages showing strongest, and we handed out some medals. The same was true with a later flight of Pouilly-Fumé, with the 2012 strutting its stuff here, giving us another medal-awarding opportunity. Along the way we saw sparkling wines, Cheverny, Cour-Cheverny, Saumur, Chinon, Touraine whites and reds and of course plenty more Sauvignon Blanc, from all appellations. There were medal opportunities in every flight.
I will be judging again tomorrow but that will be it for this year, as I have commitments later in the week I can’t break. Let’s hope there are some sweet wines tomorrow, as these are always the highlight, and so I don’t want to miss them with not judging on Thursday or Friday. There may still be some 2010s and certainly some 2011s in the system, both good vintages. Who knows, we might see some more gold medal candidates to add to the golds awarded today.