Wednesday, May 18, 2011

International wine judge suggests changes to tasting procedure

International wine judge suggests changes to tasting procedure

Author: Cathy Marston

Published: 09 May 11 And so the Old Mutual Trophy Wine Show gets underway at the Conference Centre of the Grand Roche in Paarl. Yesterday’s old wines tasting threw up some incredible surprises, the biggest one being a half bottle of 1959 Zonnebloem Cabernet Sauvignon which astonished and amazed everybody with its still-fresh red fruit, baked spiced plum cake and lively tannins. An incredible wine.

At the Old Mutual Trophy Wine Show currently underway, international wine judge Neal Martin suggested trialling a shorter tasting session.
International judge Thierry Desseauve, who flew in to South Africa only one hour before the tasting, commented on how amazing it was to be able to taste such a potted history of South African wine all in one sitting – a testimony to the generosity of the wineries and in most cases, individuals, who plundered their cellars and sacrificed precious bottles for this tasting. Other stars were the 1986 Klein Constantia Sauvignon Blanc, Rustenberg Cabernet Sauvignon 1971 and the KWV White Muscadel 1933.

Tasting kicked off bright and early at 8.15am with a full day’s work ahead. Chairman of the Judges, Michael Fridjhon was delighted with how quickly everyone was settling in together, explaining that today’s panels were all led by local chairmen, each of whom was highly experienced. “This is particularly useful for overseas judges to have strong chairmen with plenty of experience and knowledge of local wines. One of the things we have learnt over the years is that it’s best to start the tastings with strong local categories with which all judges are familiar (such as Sauvignon Blanc or Bordeaux Blends) as this gives everyone confidence right from the start.”

On another note, a new development being trialled this morning is a much shorter tasting session. Normally, a panel will taste through 30 wines before taking a break and chatting about their results. At the suggestion of international wine judge, Neal Martin, his panel (tasting Bordeaux-style red blends) will be tasting only 10 wines before discussing them and moving on. This gives tasters the chance to talk about wines whilst they are still fresh in their mind and also ensure that their palates are constantly recalibrated. “It gives a very intense view of the wines” says Michael “but the downside is that you can sometimes lose a sense of perspective on the category as a whole.”

Will this be adopted by all the panels? Watch this space.