Tantrums and trophies at the 2012 Decanter awards

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Three of the world’s largest international wine competitions are held in the UK and across the year the wine calendar is divided into a delirium of sample sending, extreme tasting, result announcing and the grand finale of award dinners where the ‘super’ trophies are revealed.

I was invited this week to one of the super trophy finales, the first in a series of three black tie do's. It was the turn of the youngest of the UK accolade collectives: the Decanter World Wine Awards run by Decanter magazine.

As the only surviving consumer printed wine publication on our shores, it's a magazine I'm desperate to love but I’m guilty of chastising for its old school approach. It's heavily dominated by Bordeaux and old world wine categories which isn’t necessarily a bad thing except for the fact that there isn’t an equivalent rival to balance the picture with new world wines. But behind the façade of a magazine designed for your Dad they’ve been quietly building what's become the most visited wine website in the world creating meaningful content delivered in a modern medium. Now I’m impressed.
 
Of the 14,000 or so wines that were entered into the competition this weeks award dinner boiled down to 28. The best of the best, the trophies of the trophy winners, and several wine producers from as far away as NZ had come to London in hope of picking up one of these exclusive gongs. 
 
As a guest of Concha y Toro we tasted through a good handful of trophy winners that had the budget to doll out extra samples for the occasion, the most notable of which were the three reds served with dinner;
 
Bodegas de Familia Burgo Viejo, Licenciado, Rioja Reserva 2006 in the Red Rioja trophy over £10 category
Emma Zuccardi Bonarda 2010 in the Argentinian Single Varietal Red Over £10 category
and
Damilano, Cannubi, Barolo 2008 in the Red Piedmont over £10 regional trophy category
 
All these medals serve to help consumers sift the wheat from the shaft so it was disappointing to find that between these cream-of-the-crop-reds our table was served corked examples of each of them. Short of pulling a little tantrum with such bottle variation, what chance have consumers got of feeling safe when they pick their trophy winning wine to serve with dinner?
And why, when in the audience of the wine trade glitterati, wasn't there a sommelier or wine judge tasting every bottle that was sent out before it was poured?
 
Regardless, the trophy for 'best red with dinner' for me went to the Bodegas de Familia Burgo Viejo a classy, classy example of the spicy and rich fruity goodness found in good vintages of Rioja Reserva. Good job they're served blind during the judging process though because like Decanter magazine what it charmed with its impressive contents it lacked in style of presentation.
 
For the full list of Decanter World Wine Award Trophies visit here.
Next up is the International Wine Challenge dinner in London on the 11th September.