There seems to be little question that wine awards and their associated medals and other ‘bling’ attract people to buy those winning wines. It isn’t hard to understand why, “recommendations” are always at the top of reasons why we buy the things we do. A wine competition neatly fills that role: judges or experts have chosen this wine to be of the finest. Done deal, especially in a cash rich/time poor world.
So if an award winning wine is attractive to us as it is an essentially a “recommendation” from experts, what criteria would you reasonably expect as a consumer? Doubtless you would have expected some sort of judges scoring system, the design of which being to establish the best of breed amongst the entrants. You’d be reasonable to expect the criteria and scoring system to consider taste, craftsmanship and perhaps some form of overall quality.
But what if part of that criteria were that the producer must, as a rule, make stock available to a specific national retailer “so that the wines be commercially available to the public”? On the one hand this seems a reasonable rule, but on the other why prescribe a specific retailer above all others?
It was on such a contentious point that Land of Hope Chenin Blanc Reserve 2015 first won a Gold Medal and then had their win disqualified by the Old Mutual Trophy Wine Show last month.
So, this specific Chenin Blanc went through all of the blind tasting of the illustrious judging panel and based on the liquid in the bottle was judged to be a ‘Gold Medal”. However, subsequently, it was ruled that because the wine is distributed exclusively by Frogitt & Vonkel and could not be sold through the Awards appointed retailer… the wine is summarily disqualified, and therefore no longer a “Gold Medal” wine.
We think that is a nonsense. We accept that the requirement to make an amount of the wine available to a specific retailer was within the published rules. Those rules, however, were not applied to all in an equal manner. Various other medal winning wines are not available through the prescribed retailer and yet were allowed to retain their Medals. We think it begs the question of how, then, can the Old Mutual Trophy Wine Show make any claim to being a benchmark of wine quality? The ability to disqualify winning wines that cannot be sold by the appointed retailer, and the subsequent following through of this sanction, materially makes a mockery of all of that competitions results (insofar as the actual wine itself). Surely the Competition should concern itself about quality alone and not dictate where the wine may be sold?
Whilst it was bad news for the team at Land of Hope, who had already begun celebrating their win when the disqualification occurred, it’s good news for our customers. We’ve got the 2015 in stock and we’re selling it now! The Land of Hope team’s determination to protect F&V’s exclusivity cost them a Gold Medal -sacrificing glory for principle, while actual wine quality was totally disregarded by the Competition organisers…
If you like really good Chenin, and you also think wine awards should concentrate on wine excellence, why not get behind our own (now un-sung) Gold Medal “winner that wasn’t” and order a few cases today!