Concours Mondial de Bruxelles and Bye-Bye Europe! China…. here we come!

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I attended for the second time the Concours Mondial de Bruxelles. I had wanted to be a part of it for a very long time because it is a “traveling show” which every year takes place somewhere else and every year you see something new. A new wine region, new wines, new people, interesting places.

I was glad to meet at the airport a bigger team, especially since one of the team members was my old friend, Lorena Deaconu. In addition to last year’s colleagues, Horia Hasnaş, Valentin Ceafalău, Cătălin Păduraru, Cosmin Popescu, we were joined this year by Prof. Valeriu Cotea, Sergiu Nedelea and Otilia Chiriţă. A great group, full of enthusiasm.

Together with my Moldavian colleagues (five highly professional Moldavians and connoisseurs), we formed an even more impressive team. For us, Greater Romania is accomplished and works very well. Wine is a great connector, with a history older than any territorial maps and the vagaries of time.

More than 9,000 samples were judged by 61 committees, five more than last year in Plovdiv. Can you realize just how many bottles there were? 36,000 bottles in total to be registered and ordered and divided into series for each commission. It’s an impressive workload and I can tell you from experience that even for 150 samples it takes a lot of time. You can imagine what it’s like for 9000!

I judged wines from Spain, France, Italy and Portugal.

We had a series of champagne, yes, actual champagne, not sparkling wine, from 2008 to 2002. We started with the freshest, of course. Some had already oxidized and had little pearling, others were still excellent. A good bonus lesson.

Red wines dominated clearly, a consequence of consumption trends. I had to judge two wine series of Bordeaux. The unbarreld ones received better grades than the ones barreled in oak. I gave good grades to the Spanish wines in Castilla to Mancha and to those in Portugal, which did not differ greatly from those I saw in Berlin in winter. They were fruity, full and complex from Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca or Alicante Bouschet.

Ours was a quiet and balanced committee. Although we did not talk very much to each other, there was little difference between our grades for most of the time. We very rarely diverged. Of course, our colleague from Spain clearly preferred wines with intensive wood notes, as they all do in Spain. All in all… it was a tour de force that involved a great deal of concentration. When each producer sends the best wine from his wine cellar to the competition, it all becomes and even greater responsibility and every wine must be carefully analyzed.

The surprise came on the last day, when the place of next year’s edition was announced, a revelation that everybody was waiting for. Well … we are going to China, all the way to Haidian, a small neighborhood of nearly 4 million people in Beijing. This is the first time this contest leaves Europe. Reasons are simple to understand. China has become the second largest wine producer in the world and has every chance to soon reach first place. Can you imagine?! Wine consumption rose to 1.4 liters / capita! I talked to colleagues who participated in tastings of Chinese wine and confessed they were surprisingly good.

The three days of the competition ended with a wonderful festive evening, organized by our hosts, with various events. The funniest one was when some of our colleagues “danced” Kamate, Kamate kaora, kaora, just like in rugby, but this time with lyrics with a wine theme, of course. It was due to the association between wine production and rugby: regardless of the weather, no matter the season, you must be well trained and prepared.

It did not matter that the bus to the airport left at 3 am and we got home a little tired. There were a few days lived intensely, a wonderful wine adventure, which I enjoyed with great pleasure. Until next time!