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Posted: Friday, 11 May 2018 15:20

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Concours Mondial (CMB) 2018 begins 25th edition in China with Aplomb

May 11: The 25th edition of CMB2018, Concours Mondial de Bruxelles began yesterday in the Haidian District of Beijing with a record number of 330 judges from across the globe, to taste and create a total number of 9,180 wines and creating history by moving it away from Europe for the first time to Haidian District of Beijing in China, writes Subhash Arora who is attending for the 10th consecutive years, and is and is impressed with the precision and details gone into by the Belgium based Vinopres,

China has made a major contribution to these results by entering more than 480 wines -an increase of 90% compared to 2017. It had as low as 22 entries barely 5 years ago in 2013 after the Chinese government had pulled all plugs to end corruption in 2012. This brought death knell for the expensive imported wines. The domestic industry then took off and so did the number of samples submitted-the numbers increased steadily to 119 in 2016, 255 in 2017 and 485 this year. It had taken part in CMB for the first time in 2006 with only 8 wines. The samples have been doing rather successful  and   well in the Competition. Last year China won 78 awards, including 4 Grand Gold and 33 Gold Medals).

The work for entry into China started around 4 years ago when Baudouin Havaux, Chairman of the Concours Mondial de Bruxelles had confided to delWine in private that Europe’s future was not as bright as in the past and the future expansion would be in Asia and more specifically China.

“China is definitely the place where the wine sector is developing the most in terms of production and consumption. The country has become the biggest market for some of the leading wine producing countries in the world”, says Baudouin who says the vision and hard work by his organisation Vinopres has paid off, with an event of such magnitude, taking place for the first time in Asia.

‘Winemakers’ associations are setting up businesses in China, opening regional offices and building up sales networks here. The dynamic development of the Chinese market has led the organizers of the Concours Mondial de Bruxelles to leave Europe and take the competition to Beijing. This is the first time a wine competition of this magnitude and significance is being held in Asia.’

The 2018 Concours Mondial de Bruxelles is destined for success, according to Chinese culture, where eight is considered the luckiest number. China’s luck is evident, even at the start at the competition, as it is the first Asian country in the 25-year history of Concours Mondial to rank among the top five for the number of entries. Over 150 Chinese companies entered wines in the 2018 Concours Mondial de Bruxelles, thus placing China right after the leaders France, Spain, Italy and Portugal.

Yin Yong , Vice Mayor of Beijing; Baudouin Havaux, Chairman of the Concours Mondial de Bruxelles; Yu Jun, Party Secretaty of  Haidian District Committee; Dai Binbin, Chief of Haidian, and representatives of Haidian’s Friendship Cities: Maekawa Akio, Mayor of Nerima City, Tokyo and Lee Jeong Keun, Director of Seodaemun Gu Welfare and Culture Bureau, Seoul took part in the official opening ceremony at the Nirvana Resort in the Haidian District of Beijing yesterday afternoon. Grapevine has it that Japan might soon host a Sake competition 

The Welcome Gala Dinner displayed the enthusiasm the local Chinese have shown in the project and are seemingly proud of the historic moment. Yu Jan admitted that he was very happy and proud that CMB had accepted their bid to host the event, making them the first city to host the European competition outside Europe. Baudouin said that it was an added feather in the cap of two different civilisations meeting over wine and it will help build friendships across the two continents.

Concours Mondial is a Brussels-based based wine competition that originated in 1994 and continued to be organised in Brussels till 2006 when it decided to move it out of Brussels. Logistics of doing such a competition outside the home base can be a nightmare, especially for wines. But the well-knit team of Baudouin, led very capably by Thomas Costenoble, Director of the Competition.

The team strives constantly to improve the credibility of the competition and handle issues arising out of human judges tasting in different panels. They work with different universities to further improve the significance of the results which are important for the trade. As Li Damei, an internationally well-known winemaker consultant said in a Conference yesterday in front of a house-full of guests, that when the customers have no clue about the wine in the bottle, the medals won by the wine are very helpful to sell a wine.

The 150 wineries and 485 samples submitted will hopefully enjoy the benefits after they win the Great Golds Gold and Silver medals during the next 3 days of judging at the Exhibition Center of the Nirvana Resort Hotel which is also hosting the judges’ stay.

Using Tabloids

An interesting feature this edition has been the use of tablets to enter the ratings, by the panellists, the scores are automatically transferred to the President’s tablet as well as the central computer room. This way, one can control the process of judging more extensively and there is less chance of any error.

10th Consecutive, 60th international Competition

Cav. Subhash Arora has been invited for the 10th consecutive time to this competition in which he started his interesting journey in 2009 in Valencia. Incidentally, it is his 60th international wine competition, surely a milestone for him and India which he has been representing overseas since 2006. Since last year, he has been appointed as a Panel President, which he believes is more due to the age and experience of judging at normal tastings rather than due to his tasting skills.

Thomas Costenoble, who spearheads the tasting activities, seems very excited about the current edition. ‘We got tremendous co-operation from the city government of Beijing. It has been a tremendous run-up to the 25th edition with logistics being the biggest headache, but all has worked so well for us so far. He was also very appreciative of the Customs department which had given us the basic clearance. True, we had to hire a full charter plane and it meant shipping a month earlier than Europe, we had no problems in clearing and storing of the same. Language has been a bit of issue here but we engaged the local interpreters and also the sommeliers and serving staff by hiring and training them here.’

The venue for the next edition will be traditionally announced on the last day of the competition taking place from May10-13 but beyond that he was not willing to say much. We don’t know ourselves, but we are getting at least one request a month for hosting and we have to take into consideration several factors before deciding on the place. ‘But the world is out oyster. We are willing to consider any venue any country-Europe or outside. But it is a fact that China is coming up very fast and we are well aware of the situation.’ He is also happy that they spent over 7-8 months only networking with the right people and then working in details about the event, once the venue was decided.

Proof of the pudding is in eating. If the first day of serving and tasting 50 wines by each panellist is an indication, the judging has been very smooth and seamless, except for a very minor slowdown due to the internet speed. It is remarkable how the Havaux-Costenoble have successfully managed to organise the 25th edition of Concours Mondial.

Cav. Subhash Arora  


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