By Sourish Bhattacharyya
|Steven Spurrier (above) and Jeannie|
Cho Lee, Asia's first Master of Wine,
co-charied the Decanter Asian Wine
Awards 2013 panel of 44 experts
IT HAPPENS to the best of Indian restaurants — they never make it to any respectable rank on any global ‘best list’. Indian wines, too, seem to be suffering from a similar crisis of acceptance.
Indian wines — 16 of them — cut a sorry figure at the Decanter Asian Wine Awards (DAWA) 2013, whose results were officially released in Hong Kong on October 23. In a competition where a Japanese entry, Grace Winery’s 2012 Gris de Koshu, won a gold medal and regional trophy for its white wine made 100 per cent with Japan’s signature Koshu grapes, the Indians landed with one silver, nine bronze and four ‘commended’ medals.
The country’s pride was somewhat salvaged by Sette VII, the brilliant Sangiovese-Cabernet Sauvignon blend developed by the celebrated Italian winemaker, Piero Masi, at the Fratelli winery at Akluj in Maharashtra’s Solapur district. Last year, when the first DAWA was held in Hong Kong, the Sauvignon Blanc 2012 of Sula Vineyards returned home with a silver.
To console themselves, Indian winemakers can draw solace from the performance of their Chinese counterparts, though on an Olympic-style medals tally China would rank higher than India because of its two silvers. Of the 36 Chinese entries, only one-half got a medal — two got silver, five bronzes and 11 ‘commended’ medals.
If this seems to you to be somewhat like India’s performance in the Olympics, rest assured you are not over-reacting. For starters, at DAWA, unlike in the Olympics, just about every competitor gets a medal. This year, 44 experts from across the world, including Indian Wine Academy President Subhash Arora, judged more than 2,300 entries and gave away prizes to 2,023 of them (it seems like the tally of votes that used to be cast in elections in the old Soviet Union — 99.99 per cent for the ruling dictator, making you wonder what happened to the remaining 0.01 per cent!). Of the 2,023 award winners, 39 got a regional trophy, 45 gold medals, 369 silvers, 985 bronzes and 585 ‘commended’ medals.
As you can deduce from these numbers, getting a bronze or a ‘commended’ medal is not the same as practising rocket science. A major source of revenue of competitions such as DAWA 2013 is the amount each participating winery pays for each wine entered in the competition. It is therefore in the best interests of the organisers to send all but a very few of the entries — these must be really undrinkable wines — back home with a medal, which explains the deluge of metal in the wine competition.
Co-chaired by Jeannie Cho Lee, the first Asian Master of Wine and a contributing editor to Decanter, the English-speaking world’s most authoritative wine magazine published from London and circulated in 92 countries, and Steven Spurrier, Chairman, Decanter World Wine Awards, and the magazine’s consultant editor, judging took place in Hong Kong on 16-19 September 2013. Sarah Kemp, Publishing Director, Decanter, said in a media release, “All wines were tasted blind and judged by a panel of Asia’s finest palates, and only those which represent outstanding quality are endorsed with a Decanter Asia Wine Award medal.” The Decanter World Wine Awards, incidentally, are the most prestigious in their category.
The competition leader, without doubt, was Australia, which participated with 614 entries and scooped up 18 gold medals and 11 regional trophies. Australia had done well in the Decanter World Wine Awards as well. In Europe, Italy’s Veneto area bagged four regional trophies and four gold medals from 84 entries. The surprise of the event was, to quote Decanter.com, a “revitalized” Languedoc-Roussillon (France), which went home with two regional trophies from 59 entries, compared with just one from 88 entries for Bordeaux.
“In today’s wine world, particularly in Asia, nothing, not even historical reputations, can be taken for granted,” noted Spurrier, writing on DAWA 2013 in his column for the Decanter magazine’s upcoming December issue. The task for Indian winemakers is a little more difficult. They have to build their reputation before they can stake claim to history.
To know more about DAWA 2013, go to:
http://www.decanter.com/news/wine-news/584469/dawa-2013-results-japan-claims-first-decanter-regional-trophy and http://dawa.decanterchina.com/en/2013/