The top names of the international wine world descended on London on Monday night to indulge in some great wines and applaud the winners of the 2008 Decanter World Wine Awards.
All evidence of Craven Hill Gardens, a small square opposite London’s boutique, ultra-exclusive Hempel Hotel, had vanished under Decanter’s black-and-white striped marquee, primed to welcome the 350 guests.
Big names had flown in to London from all over the world. Christophe Salin, of Chateau Lafite, mingled with the likes of multimillionaire Donald Hess, Alsace producer Jean Trimbach, and Tesco’s Dan Jago over the crisp Lanson Black Label and Lanson rosé champagnes (see all tasting notes below) that accompanied the Hempel’s delicious canapés.
Moving from the Hempel’s white, minimalist rooms, still ringing to the sound of jazz piano, attendees moved over the road to take their seats in the marquee.
Every table quickly became engaged in possibly the biggest unresolved discussion of the evening – which wine went best with the food. The lineup of whites paired with the starter of seared tuna, began with the elegant Lunae Vermentino 2007 from Colli di Luni (Regional North Italy white over £10 Trophy), followed by the delicious 2006 Chablis Grand Cru Valmur by J Moreau & Fils (Regional Burgundy white over £10 Trophy). Last in the flight, but by no means least, Peter Lehmann’s dry, lean and classic Margaret Semillon 2002 showed why it deserved its International white single varietal over £10 Trophy.
The main course, a rack of Welsh lamb with spinach, pancetta, caramelised baby onions and rosemary sauce, was paired with two International trophy winners: Vasse Felix’s 2005 Margaret River Cabernet Sauvignon and a 2005 Authenthique Cahors from Chateau Pineraie.
Guests settled down to the final stretch of the evening with cheese and Sandeman’s 30-year-old tawny Port – another international award-winner, taking the sweet over £10 trophy.
The two wines with dessert, Pierre Sparr’s Gewurztraminer Selection Grains Nobles 2005 (Regional Alsace sweet over £10 trophy) and Champagne Lanson Gold Label 1998, were served with the Hempel’s superlative dessert canapes.
To cap proceedings, Tempus Two’s 2006 Copper Cabernet Merlot from the Barossa Valley (Regional Australia red Bordeaux varietals under £10 trophy) and Chateau Couhins-Lurton’s white 2006 Pessac-Leognan (Regional Bordeaux white over £10 trophy) were poured after dinner.
Champagne Lanson, Black Label, NV
Delicate, toasty, floral nose. Stylish. Straighforward, lean and focused. Fruity and young.
Champagne Lanson, Noble Cuvée Rosé, NV
Lovely, rich, fresh strawberry nose. Rich strawberry, creamy mousse. Great persistence on palate – a seductive rosé.
Lunae Bosoni, Lunae Vermentino, Colli di Luni, Liguria 2007
Roasted almonds, apricot, citrus and white pepper on the nose. Pleasantly exotic flavours, very well balanced. Elegant, with persistence.
J Moreau & Fils, Valmur, Chablis Grand Cru 2006
A cool-climate Chardonnay with little oak. Dry, austere, and long. Delicious.
Peter Lehmann Margaret Semillon Barossa Valley South Australia 2002
Pale gold, a wonderful toasty bottle with age beginning to emerge. A dry, lean, classic Semillon with zest and minerality. A long lasting wine with a great future.
Vasse Felix Cabernet Sauvignon Western Australia Australia 2005
Expressive tight-knit blackcurrant nose with a hint of mint. Elegantly smokey fruit, cedary medium-weight – graceful and youthful. A silky texture with some pretty, late tannins.
Château Pineraie L’Authentique Cahors Southwest France 2005
A deep red with purple intensity. Rich, powerful, with dry but fine tannin. Excellent texture – rich velvet.
Sandeman 30 Year Old Tawny Port Portugal
A supple, elegant, alluring, warm amber character. This lovely nutty, sweet, smooth drop has excellent acidity to carry long, lingering flavour.
Pierre Sparr Gewurztraminer, Sélection de Grains Nobles Alsace France 2005
Expressive aromas of roses, lychee, peach and grapefruit continue onto the palate. A firm acidity balances the sugar, the finish is elegant.
Champagne Lanson, Gold Label 1998
Rich strawberry and cream. A whack of sweet jam tarts, crisp acidity and lively mousse.
Tempus Two Copper Cabernet Merlot Barossa valley, South Australia 2006
A fresh yet fine, fragrant aroma. Gentle, complex, elegant, spicy and ripe. Superb.
Château Couhins-Lurton white, Pessac-Léognan Bordeaux 2006
A discreet fruity aroma coupled with a soft, rich palate. A clean, fresh Sauvignon Blanc with good balance and a long finish.
Written by decanter.com staff