China has the weight of expectation on its shoulders at the Decanter World Wine Awards this year, the panel chairman for the region says.
Ch’ng Poh Tiong, chair of the panel judging this year’s entries, recalled last year’s International Trophy for Red Bordeaux Varietals for He Lan Qing Xue’s Jia Bei Lan 2009, from Ningxia province in China.
‘My hope this year is that China will show to the world that this wasn’t a one-off,’ the publisher of The Singapore Wine Review told Decanter.com. ‘We are a small panel but we make a lot of noise,’ he said, referring to the blizzard of publicity that surrounded the announcement that a Chinese wine had won such a prestigious trophy.
Poh Tiong said it was early days but the category – Middle East, Far East and Asia – had thrown up ‘a handful of well-made wines’ so far, with two particularly impressive sparkling wines from the white Japanese variety Koshu.
In other categories, Stephen Brook, chair of the USA panel, was very pleased that Oregon Pinot Noir had produced its ‘first-ever Gold medal’ this year.
In Argentina Phil Crozier, wine director of the UK restaurant chain Gaucho, was surprised by ‘some great Malbecs in the under £10 category’ but was less pleased with the more expensive Malbecs which he found over-extracted and over-oaked.
‘There are some elegant wines but there is a tendency toward showiness. My message to the industry is, ‘Stick with the fruit and the elegance – use two- and three-year-old barrels rather than new oak. Don’t underestimate yourselves.’
There have been disappointments: the offering from Germany was ‘mixed’, one judge said, and Romania, Bulgaria and Macedonia had offered wines that were ‘not faulty, but they were uninteresting. They were no fun,’ regional chair Robert Gorjak said.
Gearoid Devaney MS, judging Germany, said, ‘I was surprised by several flights of Kabinett-level Riesling that lacked structure and minerality.’
Giles MacDonogh, chair of the German panel, added that the main problem was the 2010 harvest was half the normal size and so the best wines sold out fast – and were not entered for the Awards.
Moreover, he said, ‘there is a slight disaffection in Germany. It is an old wine culture – they feel they don’t need publicity and so don’t have the enthusiasm to enter wines for awards.’
On the New Zealand table, chair Margaret Harvey MW said the country’s wine industry was in perfect healt. ‘The quality of wines is extremely high. There is a lot more to be discovered from New Zealand.’
In Champagne, judges including Tony Jordan and Beverley Blanning MW could find little to criticise. ‘There have been some marvellous, truly excellent wines,’ Jordan said. ‘The top wines really sing.’
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Written by Adam Lechmere