By Sourish Bhattacharyya
Five wines from Champagne Indage Ltd. have cleared a rigorous screen process and won bronze medals at the International Wine & Spirit Competition, which has been organised every year in London since 1969. The international panel of judges for this premier event, who included 40 Masters of Wine (MWs), was headed by David Wrigley of the Wine & Spirit Education Trust.
To ensure that products are evaluated with consumer expectations in mind and to be as consistent as possible, the judging panels consist of MWs and prominent trade judges, balanced with qualified 'lay' (non trade) judges, says the IWSC's official web site, www.iwsc.net.
"All judges, including MWs, go through an induction and a trial-judging day before they are permitted to officially judge on a panel," the web site reports. Judges are selected for individual panels based on their knowledge and experience of the products being assessed, each panel being led by a senior 'chair' judge and their performance is constantly under review.
"We are not trying to be 'big brother' but we owe it to participating producers and the consumer to be as accurate as possible in our evaluation of each wine and spirit being assessed," assures Wrigley.
IWSC is unique in that all medal winners are subject to technical analysis before results are released. Products, which fail to comply with EU legal requirements, can lose marks and in some cases may forfeit their award. Corkwise, one of UK's leading independent laboratories, looks after the technical analysis of competition winners.
Wine analysis covers free and total sulphur dioxide, iron, copper, total acidity, volatile acidity (acetic acid), pH, ascorbic acid, sugar, alcohol, sugar free extract and of course microbiology. In addition, certain wines are screened using gas chromatography for methanol, sorbitol and other potential contaminants.
In some instances the results of this analysis may lead to marks being deducted, or even outright rejection. For example, a white wine such as Sauvignon Blanc, which has only recently been bottled with free sulphur dioxide of 5 mg/l, may be attractive now, but within three months this wine will begin to oxidise. A red wine with high volatile acid and some residual sugar could taste quite attractive (a sweet and sour effect). Over the months this level of volatile acid will rise, creating an overly sour and unattractive wine. Deduction of marks following technical analysis could affect the level of an award.
The medal-winning Champagne Indage wines are:
Chateau Indage Omar Khayyam (the sparkling wine brand for the export market)
Chateau Indage Mist of Sahyadri Chardonnay 2004
Chateau Indage Chantilli Chenin Blanc 2005
Chateau Indage Mist of Sahyadri Shiraz 2005
Chateau Indage Ivy Viognier 2005