For some while now, I have been invited to be in the jury of the Berliner Wein Trophy. This biannual contest is organized by Deutsche Wein Marketing, an influencer of standards in the wine industry for over 20 years.
Why is it important for a wine maker to enter such a competition?
Annually, over 20 000 wines from all over the world are evaluated in contests organized under the larger umbrella of the International Organization of Wine and Vine (OIV) and Vinofed. I knew that Romanian winemakers had also entered the contest and were among the winners. In Berlin, the DiVin magazine was launched, reuniting all the award winning wines in the contest. I was glad to see them mentioned in DiVin. This is a first step in a PR campaign organized by Germany who wants to keep clients informed. The magazine will be published every three months and distributed free of charge in 70000 copies throughout HoReCa in Germany. Thus, consumers are made aware of the award winning wines. This is makes it important for Romanian producers to participate in such a competition. But Romanian wines should also be available for the German market, ready to be purchased. For those who have not done either, I strongly recommend you to do so. Our country image abroad would have much to gain.
Secondly, as a juror during the four days of the contest, you have the opportunity to see three or four series of wine per day selected by the organizers. You can easily paint yourself a picture of the wines in question. For example, we had a series of Rhineland Riesling 2016. It was clearly a rainy year with thin wines and not many flavors. Correct, but without aging potential. A series of Pinot Blanc, a variety I did not know much about as we do not cultivate it in Romania, but with interesting pear and citrus flavors, slightly aromatic to other Pinot (Gris). I also made close acquaintance with the Portuguese rosé and red wines on the 3rd day, when all three series had been from Portugal. If the rosé wines were not really well graded, being a little phenolic and without the acidity you would expect, the heat made the red ones extraordinary. We gave a lot of gold and silver medals.
And something about the local varieties…. Portugal is the country that preserved its local varieties. International varieties exist more in blends with local ones and are used mostly to empower them. Alicante Bousquet, Touriga Nacional, Castelao, Tinta Ruiz or Touriga Franca are some of the varieties in the cups to which I found deserving of a gold medal. 2016 and 2015 harvests. Amazing to see 2016 red wines ready to be consumed in January next year. A trip to Portugal is definitely worth it!
We tasted many red wines, which gives us some clues about consumer orientation. Red, fresh, fruity wines. Round and full bodied, ready to be drunk shortly. For the first time since I participate in international competitions, I was offered Fetească Neagră. Some good, even very good, others hmm… with defects. You might hint that I rated them as high as I good without falling into extremes. (at an international competition according to the OIV, the final grade is the arithmetic average after the extremes are eliminated.) It gave me the opportunity to talk to colleagues about the variety and characteristics.
The best wines I remember now are Negro Amaro and Nero d’Avola. I gave them the highest grades. Anyway, I promised my colleagues that for this Nero d’Avola I’ll go to Sicily once again… even at the risk of having my purse and shoes stolen again as friends know it happened last time. But this is another story for another time.