May 15: Fratelli Sangiovese Rose has won a Gold medal at the recent London-based Sommelier Wine Awards (SWA) with two of its wines, MS Chardonnay/Sauvignon Blanc and JNOON Red getting a Commendation, making it a first for Indian wines to perhaps enter the competition and/or win a Gold Medal, writes Subhash Arora
The only other time had been in 2017 when the Nashik-India produced red Shiraz/Cabernet Reserve 2014 for the UK based company Soul Tree owned and managed by 2 UK-based Indians, retailing at £6.99 was ‘Commended’ in 2017.
Sangiovese Rose (£5.77) wins Gold
Fratelli Rose is made from the signature grape of the Akluj-based winery and is an excellent example of how a wine does not have to be super-expensive to be fine and delicious. Liberty Wines which distributes their wine in UK retails it for £5.77 and yet it has won Gold- a first for India in this competition.
According to the website of Sommelier Wine Awards, ‘on tasting this worthy Gold medal recipient, Michael Fiducia of The Royal Automobile Club spoke highly of its lovely lifted nose of honeysuckle and cherries, leading to a softly approachable redcurrant and raspberry palate, before going on to describe lovely minerality, and a delicate acidity on the finish. Floral notes and cooked red fruit, with good freshness’ led team leader Lionel Periner to picture this alongside ‘light cured meats or fruit salads’.
On the other hand their fresh, juicy, pleasing and easy drinking and yet complex M.S. Chardonnay- Sauvignon Blanc 80-20 Blend 2018 could manage a Commended medal-as did the highly prestigious JNoon Red- a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Bordeaux- blend category which is priced to retail at Liberty wines for £23.67.
Apparently no other Indian wines were entered though it cannot be confirmed as such in this or any wine competition, as a practice.
From the Gold Medals wines are selected for further categories: Food and wine match, By the glass, Critics choice and Pub and Bar. Besides, there are also a few trophies awarded too. Our wine did not find a mention for those categories.
Judges for the Sommelier Wine Awards (SWA) are selected from the on-trade, whether as a sommelier or wine buyer in a restaurant/hotel, or as a consultant developing wine lists.
All the wines are tasted blind and by category. Around 25% of entries receive a Commended classification, with about half of entries making it through to the second round. Here they are considered for medals- Bronze, Silver and, the ultimate award, a place on the Gold List.
The criteria used are- food-friendliness, versatility, typicity, personality – and, importantly, value for money at whatever the price. Judges know the trade prices of each wine as they are judging each flight. If wines are ‘tight’ or young and expensive, they are decanted before tasting.
There is Head Judge Christine Parkinson who is Hakkasan’s group wine buyer -This is an ‘overseeing’ position for the final round of judging, with her keeping a handle on all of the wines that are put forward by the tasting teams for places on the Gold List. 'Aided by Drinkonomics' Christopher Cooper as her deputy, she makes sure that there are no gaps or duplications, and that all price points are covered.
Gold-Listed wines are judged in a taste-off round featuring 12 key restaurant dishes, the winners picking up Food Match Trophy awards. Critics’ Choice Trophies are given to wines that the judges simply fall in love with, whatever their price or style. By the Glass and Pub & Bar Trophy winners are great value, versatile wines that would be great on their own or with food, whatever your venue.
The Merchant Awards and Producer of the Year awards are given to those applicants who have done particularly well in certain key areas.
Finally, senior judges decide on the ultimate trophies, the Wines of the Year: Best Wine in Show, House Wine of the Year, Fine Wine of the Year, and Gastropub Wine of the Year.
The judges are categorised, besides Head Judge, as Senior Judges and Judges the former has MW’s and MS’s in the list generally. For instance Sarah Jane Evans MW is one of the Senior judges as are Chris Delalonde MS, Head of Wines at The Dorches ter, Laura Rhys MS, Global Ambassador and Laurent Richet MS Head Sommelier at Restaurant Sat Bains.
Interestingly, the list of senior judges also includes one Sunaina Sethi, an Indian Origin one-third sibling owner of JKS Restaurants which started with the opening of Trishna in 2008. She is responsible for front house operations and the wine buying for the group which constitutes Trishna, Bubbledogs, Kitchen Table, Gymkhana, Lyles, Bao, Xu and Hoppers.
delWine congratulates Fratelli for cracking a Gold and encourages producers to participate in one or more international wine competition. With neutral specialists and experts tasting and rating your wines, you are bound to be recognised if you make ward-worthy wines. Ask Grover, Zampa Vineyards-at around 150 medals, they are ahead of all the other producers, by a mile and still won’t let up.
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