May 14: Concours Mondial de Bruxelles, perhaps the only traveling international wine competition in the world, is all set to host its 29th edition in Rende- Cosenza in Calabria, Italy on 19-22 May where, for the first time, every judge will share Tasting notes of each wine to be later analysed by Winespace using Artificial Intelligence, writes Cav. Subhash Arora. who is a veteran at CMB, with 11 Competitions under his belt since 2009 when he attended his first one at Valencia
About 350 international judges are expected to descend on Cosenza, in the relatively lesser known region of Calabria in South Italy on 18 May to attend the 29th edition of Concours Mondial de Bruxelles (CMB) after the restrained 2 years when mostly the European judges were invited to the delayed Competition in BRNO in Czech Republic in 2020 and the changed venue in 2021, from China to Luxembourg due to the Covid Pandemic. Though the pandemic has subsided, full Covid Protocols are to be followed in the current edition.
Already known for its innovations like going truly international by taking it to various countries like Italy, Spain, Portugal, Luxembourg, Czech Republic, Switzerland and China and Chile etc., since it moved out of the home city Brussels in Belgium n 2007, it is back in Italy- in the university town of Rende-Cosenza. It had introduced the use of tabloid in 2018-a Herculean Task with over 300 judges switching to tabloids for entries (I had attended a Competition as early as in 2010 in Santiago, Chile but that was a much smaller pocket-size competition). For several years now, it has introduced double blind tasting of one wine every day to analyse the consistency of each judge.
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From this year CMB is introducing a more comprehensive system that is more palatable to the traditional techniques used by the judges. In addition to the customary 100-point rating system, each judge will be asked to add a brief comment that best conveys an overall impression of the wine, on the keyboard provided.
Over the three days of the actual competition, nearly 7,500 wines will be judged, each by at least 5 judges from different countries including India. The tasting comments will be subsequently analysed using artificial intelligence (AI). In all, about 37,500 tasting comments will thus be generated. CMB has collaborated with Winespace, a start-up which has designed AI capable of providing their granular analysis. It will process the data received at the end of the competition. This is reportedly the first time that a wine competition of this magnitude will use such technology.
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These developments are designed to help the Concours Mondial de Bruxelles in many ways, says Thomas Costenoble, the Director of the Competition chaired by Baudouin Havaux. Says Thomas, ’CMB can assert its status as a major industry stakeholder and stay at the cutting edge of innovation. We will provide a practical response to a desire by producers for greater transparency and feedback. They will now be given practical details about the way their wines have been perceived by the judges, further guaranteeing the professionalism and quality consumers expect when choosing a bottle of wine endorsed by a CMB medal.’
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Experiments conducted over 6 months
Several trial’ sessions have been conducted over the past six months at different sessions of the Concours Mondial de Bruxelles in Mexico, Spain, Portugal. These experiments have not only confirmed the accuracy of the technology, but also the compatibility of the method with the specific features of the competition.
CMB has been divided into 4 sections- The Rose Wine Session was already held on 11-13 March, while the Sparkling Wine Session will be held on 1-3 July. Sweet and Fortified Wine Session will be held on 20-23 September. The current Red and White Wine Session is by far the biggest with nearly 7500 labels and 350 judges. ,
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Promoting the expertise of the judges
With its loyal community of international judges, many of whom have participated for over 10- even 20 years, CMB boasts a valuable pool of experts thus ensuring the quality of the awards. Some judges had expressed their desire to see a more flexible system, allowing them to express their personal opinions and not simply rate the wines on the prevalent100-point scale. The free-text comments provided by them will now enable them to express their perceptions which will be later summarised.
CMB has been organised by Vinopres, a Belgian company, founded in 1992. It has been publishing wine magazines, organising exhibitions and competitions and offering PR services for 30 years using its comprehensive knowledge of the wine market and products around its core activities.
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Winespace is a Bordeaux start-up specialising in wine, data and artificial intelligence. Its core business involves reproducing the skills of wine merchants, sommeliers, winemakers and journalists using digital resources and thus providing innovative solutions for wine professionals. It has worked in conjunction with National Institute for Research in Digital Science and Technology (INRIA) in France and boasts skills for analysing wine comments and data on the taste of wine.
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Several trial sessions have been already conducted over the past six months at different sessions of the CMB in Bruxelles, Mexico, Spain and Portugal. They have not only confirmed the accuracy of the technology, but also the compatibility of the method with the specific features of the competition.
Bon Voyage to all the judges and the staff of Vinopres for a successful CMB.
Cav. Subhash Arora
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