May 30: Concours Mondial de Bruxelles (CMB) has split the competition into 4 different sessions with the most predominant Red and White Wine section tasted in Rende-Cosenza in Calabria on May 20-22, 2022 with the other 3 sections tasted in different countries, writes Subhash Arora who rated about 140 of the 7400 wines offered at the competition, for the 12th time since he started tasting in Valencia in 2009 and hopes to be at the next edition in Poreč in the Istrian region of Croatia on 12-14 May, 2023
Red and White Wines
The Red and White Wine Session of the Concours Mondial de Bruxelles was organised on 20-22 May at Rende- Cosenza, in the southern Italian region of Calabria, with about 7,400 wines from nearly 40 countries competing for Grand Gold, Gold and Silver Medals. The jury, composed of 310 wine experts from 45 countries, including 4 from India, participated in 56 panels of 5-6 Jurors each to taste an average of 45-48 samples a day for 3 days. This included one wine tasted twice daily without the knowledge of the tasters, to monitor the consistency of each one.
Enhancing Judging Protocol
CMB continues improving judging standards by introducing this year a comprehensive list of Tasting Notes for each wine as each taster writes his or her comments in the Tasters Sheet and it is corroborated by the use of Artificial Intelligence deployed by a start-up Winespace. This new step was introduced after a trial run for 6 months during several smaller competitions organised by CMB.
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In addition to the customary 100-point rating system, each judge was required to add a brief comment best conveying the overall impression of the wine, just like one would by writing on the note pad. To do this, we had been given keypads to write our comments during the tasting sessions with each wine.
The tasting comments would be analysed later using artificial intelligence, specially designed to understand and analyse wine descriptions. They will complement the 100-point rating system already used to assess the wines, and provide qualitative information about the perception of the wines.
Changing the Rating parameters
Besides the individual trophies, each wine vied for a Grand Gold, Gold or Silver Medal based on the scores of 90.1-100, 86.1-90 and 84.9-86 for a Silver Medal. The Competition Director, stressed that these numbers were only indicative. What was important to understand was that the Grand Golds could be around 1% but Gold Medals would be around 10% whereas the Silver could be around 15%, with a total of only 25-28% wines entered, getting the medals.
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Thomas conceded that this year, the range had been changed slightly with a much smaller range for Silver, based on the past results. A minor adjustment might be made upwards or downwards to keep the medals within the announced range; this appears to be stricter than the 35-40% or even 50% in other competitions, making it harder for wines to excel.
France, Italy and Spain offer 60% of samples
France led the pack with 1645 wines followed closely by Italy with almost 1,400 wines and Spain trailing with 1368. Of all the Italian regions competing, Calabria’s contribution stood out. As is traditional, the host region of the competition Calabria outnumbered even Veneto, the largest wine producing region of Italy although Calabria’s annual wine production of 96.600 hl per year is less than 1% of the largest producing region Veneto’s 11.717.000 hl.
Calabria dripping in Agricultural History
One person that was not surprised was Baudouin Havaux, the Competition Chairman and managing Director of Vinopres, organisers of CMB. The host region usually enters an exceptionally large number of samples. ‘I am convinced that Calabria will not fail to surprise everyone involved in this year’s competition and will be a huge bonus for the prestige of the Concours Mondial de Bruxelles,’ he told delWine.
Marcello Manna, the mayor of Rende, the host city, was equally enthusiastic. “It is not only my city, but the whole of Calabria that is hosting this very important event, which involves fundamental aspects of our region, such as its food and wine, tourism, roots and history. Calabria has the ambition to assert its status, secure recognition and showcase its undiscovered treasures,” he said.
As always, CMB offered a fabulous opportunity for the jury members not only enjoy the hospitality of various groups like the Association of SILA, Cosenza Wine District, which held several Masterclasses and offered unprecedented hospitality at various events, it offered an opportunity to visit wineries and taste a variety of wines (detailed report in the next edition) and learn that Calabria may not be a big producing region of Italy but historically, it offered a route for vines and wines to travel through the region and boasts several local grape varieties that make unique wines for connoisseurs, though the quantity produced may not be large enough to induced exports. Visits to Cosenza city and the Svevo Castle were memorable as were the several tastings and Masterclasses.
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The seemingly short time spent in Calabria whetted the appetite of the tasters who would love to come back and learn and taste more in future.
Besides the major Red and White Wine Session in Rende-Cosenza, the Rose Wine Session was already held on 11-13 March, 2022 and the results announced on 16 March.
Bairrada in Portugal will host the Sparkling Wine Session at its local Wine Museum from 1-3 July, 2022. The Sweet and Fortified Wine Session will be hosted by Marsala in Sicily on 20-23 September, 2022. Thus the results of all 4 segments and the cumulative results will be known by September-end according to Costenoble.
Next year it’s the 30th Edition and in Istria
CMB is amazingly good at keeping the following year’s venue a big secret. On the last day of the current competition, at 11am, the tasting hall is filled with the sounds and sight of an A/V Presentation of the next host with the dignitaries of that region present. This year was no exception. The small town of Poreč on the Western Coast of Istria (Croatia) will host the main tasting session of the competition dedicated to red and white wines next year on 12-14 May 2023.
The Concours Mondial de Bruxelles is an international competition where over 10,000 wines are entered by producers. About 7400 wines were tasted in this main section of red and white wines. Thomas Costenoble, the Competition Director says that they had decided a couple of years to split the Competition as the number of wines was increasing to where it might be difficult to manage in the coming years. It must be mentioned that a different country is selected every year-bringing in all the wines to the tasting area and a bevy of Sommeliers serving professionally.
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Starting with two parts last year, it was split into 4 this year. Whereas the number flirted with 10,000 in the recent years, falling slightly short, it is expected to be between 10,000-11,000, according to Baudouin Havaux, the owner and Competition Chairman. He says ‘we hope to rope in judges with expertise and interest in those particular segments, thus improving the quality of judging a couple of notches. The wines tasted totally blind, with only vintage disclosed and no information about the region or the grape varieties and no bias resulting from the label or the prestige of an area or an appellation are the highlights.