It was a great week, challenging, demanding and stimulating, with several highlights. A few statistics – 220 judges assessed over 15, 000 wines, of which 681 came from Languedoc-Roussillon, in the 11th DWWA, and we apparently consumed 25 kilos of cheese each day, and very good cheese it was too. Sarah Kemp, who runs Decanter, believes in keeping her judges happy so we are talking Montgomery, rather than supermarket cheddar. This year we were in a new venue, Tobacco Dock, which was airy and spacious and entailed a pleasant walk from Tower Hill tube station, past the Tower, through St. Katherine’s Dock where the royal barge is moored, and along the canal. I was amused to see that my very elderly A-Z still marked the space as London Docks (disused). And the fun of the week was the international mix of judges, so I could catch up with friends from New Zealand, Australia, Toronto, Vancouver, Friuli, Paris and Nice.
Tastings panels varied from day to day, but the Languedoc team included Simon Taylor from Stone Vine & Sun, Elizabeth Gabay MW who is based outside Nice, wine writer Isabelle Bachelard from Paris, Arabella Woodrow MW, Justin Howard-Sneyd MW from Domaine of the Bee in Roussillon and Matt Walls, who is one of the new generation of wine writers. He won a prize last year from the Vins de Pays d’Oc people and you can read him on www.mattwalls.co.uk.
The full results will be published in the July issue of Decanter, which of course appears at the beginning of June. But I can tell you that there were several gold medals, significantly more than last year. A gold went to a delicious Blanquette de Limoux, This year, in sharp contrast to last year, there were several golds for white wine. There seems to be some real progress with the Languedoc whites, both blends and varietals. And some of the red appellations really shone. A flight of Faugères was sheer pleasure to taste, and produced two golds. Other highlights included Minervois la Livinière, Terrasses du Larzac, Corbières and Côtes du Roussillon, all with wines of real character with a true sense of place. And there were some delicious Vins Doux Naturels, including three gold medals, which were heaven to taste. These wines are an endangered species, and they deserve to be preserved. See Andrew Jefford’s article for www.decanter.com on Monday 28th April. .