Sam Wylie-Harris parades some medal-winning wines to raise a glass to the Summer Olympic Games (August 5 to 21)
While Team GB are preparing for the Rio Olympics in the hope of winning a cache of medals, wine competitions have been handing out a stack of silverware to winemakers behind some of the world’s finest wines.
Judging panels for The Decanter World Wine Awards (DWWA) and International Wine Challenge (IWC) have spent weeks behind closed doors meticulously tasting wines blind… swirling, sniffing and swishing, before spitting into spittoons that see more action than an Olympic sized swimming pool.
Thousands of wines are entered into the competitions (more than 16,000 for Decanter), and after comparing notes, retasting and scoring, the finalists have their chance to shine and add their names to the medal table.
Basking in glory, here are some podium winners that impressed the greatest palates in the world and now sport a trophy….
:: Vidal Fleury Cotes du Rhone 2013, France (£10.75, www.nywines.co.uk) – Decanter Platinum Best in Category: Red Rhone under £15
A classic southern Rhone red with a fetching cherry-esque bouquet, it’s beautifully concentrated with a forest floor of spiced black fruit and fine tannins entwined with black pepper. Compulsively drinkable.
:: Chateau de Berne Rose 2015, Provence, France (£13.99 or £9.99 mixed case of 6, now until August 1, Majestic) – Decanter Gold
With a striking square-shaped bottle, this ravishing rose hails from the vineyards of Chateau de Berne, a boutique hotel in one of the prettiest parts of Provence. A ballet slipper pink that’s perfectly poised, the red fruits are coated with a creamy freshness with crisp acidity on the graceful finish.
:: Taylor’s 20 Year Old Tawny Port, Portugal (£34.24, 75cl, www.thedrinkshop.com) – Decanter Gold
Port is often thought of as the last wine of the night, but this aged tawny can be served lightly chilled as an appetiser to enjoy with parmesan or manchego cheese. A fortified wine that’s fit for summer sipping, it has a spicy, raisiny character with a nutty note and honeyed finish.
:: Extra Special El Meson Rioja Gran Reserva 2008, Spain, (£9.98, Asda) – IWC Gold
A Gold winner for the third year running, this Rioja is a rhapsody of vivid ripe fruits, sweet spices, vanilla and toasty caramel that really shines through. Simply gorgeous and unbeatable value.
:: M Signature Chablis Premier Cru 2013, France (£15, Morrisons) – IWC Gold
With Chablis producers warning us of a reduced harvest for 2016 and inevitable price increases, this own label Premier Cru from Morrisons (voted Supermarket of the Year, IWC 2016) is a stunner and should be snapped up before it races off the shelves. A well-crafted mix of apple, melon and lemon with a discreet buttery finish.
:: Finest Ventisquero Carmenere 2015, Colchagua, Chile (£5.50, Tesco) – Decanter Silver
This sunny red glugger sets the standard with its juicy, sweet black fruits laced with spice and a bouquet that’s bursting with blackberry and cassis. A crowd pleaser destined for the BBQ King.
:: Bindi Sergardi Chianti Classico “La Ghirlanda” 2013, Tuscany, (£12.95, www.fromvineyardsdirect.com) – Decanter Silver
A suave sangiovese with generous forest fruit aromas, masses of moreish morello cherry and plum fruit, delightful floral notes and spice. Very smooth with a touch of oak in the background.
:: San Leo Prosecco Brut NV, Italy (£7.79 from £10.49, now until August 16, Waitrose) – IWC Silver
Less sweet than extra dry prosecco, this brut (dry) style has pretty white flower aromas, ripe citrusy fruits and bubbly freshness, and it’s a sweet deal while on special offer.
:: Colome Altitude Blend Malbec Cabernet Franc Tannat 2014, Argentina (£12, Marks & Spencer) – IWC Silver
This purple beauty hails from some of the highest vineyards in the world and winemaker Thibaut Delmotte has blended this trump trio to perfection. Fruit forward, plush and seductively smooth, there’s spiced cherries, cassis and vanilla galore.
Great Scot! If you’re partial to Scotch, why not try making a mid-week cocktail with Monkey Shoulder Blended Malt Scotch Whisky (£27, 70cl, www.tesco.com and major supermarkets nationwide). Smooth, sweet and rich with hints of mellow vanilla, it’s very versatile and works especially well in cocktails as well as mixers.
Chain reaction… Majestic Wine, the UK’s largest specialist wine retailer has won High Street Chain of the Year at the International Wine Challenge (IWC) Merchant Awards 2016.
The Merchant Awards celebrate the most successful businesses, which deliver an outstanding service to wine consumers across the UK. The awards are based on top quality wines and a commercially successful, viable, and proven business model.
“Winning the IWC High Street Chain of the Year award is an incredible achievement and is especially important as it reflects all the work that has been done this year as part of our transformation plan,” says John Colley, managing director, Majestic Retail.
“We are making brilliant steps in becoming a customer focused business with the best people in the trade and I’d like to not only thank the IWC for recognising how far we’ve come in this short period of time, but also all our people at Majestic for their efforts in putting the customer back at the heart of what we do.”
Over the past year, Majestic Wine has embarked on a transformational strategy aimed at helping customers find wines they love thanks to guidance from more than 900 store team members who know and love wine. They have also ceased the minimum purchase of six bottles.
With more than 200 stores in the UK, visit www.majestic.co.uk/stores to find a store near you.