SWA 2017. That was the year of...
...The first English red gold
While fizz and even whites have established a good reputation with our judges, the performance of our country’s reds could politely be described as ‘mixed’. But one wine absolutely took our tasters’ breath away - in a good way! Especially with the general shortage of affordable Pinot elsewhere, it looks like one of the stars of this year’s competition. Want to know what it is? Well, we can’t tell you yet. Wait for the full set of results!
...the corked screw cap
No really. For the first time ever we were monitoring the various wine faults that (inevitably) get thrown up during judging. Cork taint we were braced for. Oxidation, we were expecting. Geosmin and light strike we knew would be par for the course. But a screw capped wine riddled with TCA? That was a new one for even our most experienced judges.
...the 3000 mile commute
Actually, Immacolata Cannavo came even farther than that. Based in Hakkasan Dubai, she travelled 3404 miles (thank you Google) to do a couple of days’ judging at SWA. We just hope that she got the English red, and avoided the corked screw cap.
Italy had a quiet SWA in 2016, but it was back with a bang this year. Some truly magnificent wines - both red and white - often at decent prices and not always from big-name regions. They went on to put in a hugely strong performance in the Food Match awards, too.
All that stuff about tasters needing plain, neutral, non-sweet food to operate at their peak? Forget it. On this evidence, all you need to keep top somms operating at optimum performance levels is gallons of espresso (a big obrigado to our Portuguese coffee suppliers Portugalia Wines and Delta Q) and half a dozen brownies per taster. They began as a curiosity, but by the end of judging, their fame had spread and somms were queuing up to load their plates with them. Some of the more brownie-addicted tasters are still in rehab, but are expected to re-enter society shortly.
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