Medals all round

So many win awards, but does the wine taste any bet­ter?

The Irish Times Magazine - - DRINK -

We have all come across bot­tles of wine with an em­bossed gold sticker at­tached, boast­ing of an award gar­nered in some com­pe­ti­tion. Some have rows of shiny medals and look more like the uni­form of a South Amer­i­can dic­ta­tor. But does the wine taste any bet­ter? Wine- tast­ing is a sub­jec­tive ex­er­cise at the best of times. Our taste buds are no­to­ri­ously fickle; wit­ness the de­light ev­ery­one takes in fool­ing wine ex­perts into mis­tak­ing a ¤ 7.99 su­per­mar­ket house wine for a fine Bordeaux.

But with ex­pe­ri­ence and train­ing, it is pos­si­ble to give an ob­jec­tive as­sess­ment of a wine. Cred­i­ble wine com­pe­ti­tions will have a panel of ex­perts, and the win­ning wines will be tasted sev­eral times. Gen­er­ally the wines are tasted part- blind, so the taster knows the grape, coun­try and re­gion, and the ap­prox­i­mate price of the wines be­ing tasted.

That does make sense as you are judg­ing the qual­ity of a wine, not guess­ing where it might come from.

Usu­ally you won’t know what wines were en­tered. A top Pinot Noir pro­ducer who sells out their wine each year has no in­cen­tive to en­ter a com­pe­ti­tion.

These days most pro­ducer and con­sumer coun­tries have a com­pe­ti­tion of some sort. The two big­gest com­pe­ti­tions on these is­lands are the De­canter World Wine Awards and the In­ter­na­tional Wine Chal­lenge ( IWC), both run in Lon­don.

This year, the De­canter wine pan­els tasted their way through 16,903 wines, award­ing 11,121 awards of some kind, a very gen­er­ous 65 per cent of all en­trants. The IWC and most Aus­tralian com­pe­ti­tions have a sim­i­lar suc­cess rate, once you in­clude awards of merit.

Com­pe­ti­tions can be a lu­cra­tive busi­ness. Some help­fully award ev­ery wine that en­ters the com­pe­ti­tion. Most charge pro­duc­ers to en­ter a wine, and a win­ery has to pay for rolls of those gold medal stick­ers.

So this bank hol­i­day week­end, make your own judg­ment with four award- win­ning wines.

In ad­di­tion to those below, Dunnes Stores has the very en­joy­able award- win­ning Sim­ply Bet­ter Chi­anti Clas­sico ( although not the same vin­tage) for ¤ 16.49, and Marks & Spencer and O’Briens have the tro­phy- win­ning Ascheri Arneis (¤ 19.50). Aldi won sil­ver with its Mon­signy Cham­pagne (¤ 19.99) and Cré­mant de Jura (¤ 12.49) and com­mended for its Fleur de Prairie Rosé (¤ 9.99).

See In­ter­na­tion­al­winechal­lenge. com and De­canter. com for full re­sults.

Bar­buntin Al­bar­iño 2016, Rías Baixas, 12.5%, ¤ 14.95

Awarded the IWC In­ter­na­tional Al­bar­iño Tro­phy and I can see why. Mouth- wa­ter­ing crisp lemon zest bal­anced per­fectly by de­lec­ta­ble plump peach fruits. Per­fect sum­mer drink­ing on its own or with shell­fish.

Stock­ists:

Mitchell & Son, chq, Sandy­cove, and Avoca, Kil­macanogue & Dun­boyne, mitchel­land­son. com;

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