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Delhi Wine Club
Go for Gold at HKIWSC Wine Competition

Posted: Tuesday, 26 March 2013 11:52

Go for Gold at HKIWSC Wine Competition

Mar 26: The 5th edition of Cathay Pacific Hong Kong International Wine and Spirits Competition being held in October offers good opportunity for getting the wines assessed by a body of independent Asian expert judges and includes food and wine matching category as well- offering a golden opportunity for the Indian quality wine producers, who have won silver and bronze medals earlier, to go for Gold, writes Subhash Arora

HKIWSC is a first competition of its kind in Hong Kong, run in partnership with the London-based International Wine & Spirit Competition, which has been running such competitions in London and overseas for 40 years. Established in 2008, it has been created specifically for the Asian markets. Even the judges are chosen from Asian countries like China, Singapore, Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Malaysia, Hong Kong and India representing a cumulative Asian palate which is considered to be different from the western palate, according to the Director of the Competition Debra Meiburg MW, an American settled in Hong Kong for around 25 years, who has developed an Asian palate for wine and food.

There is one exception every year - an expert is invited from outside the region as a VIP Guest also known as the international judge. Tony Jordan from Australia was the first one, followed by Tim Atkin MW from London and Alberto Antonini from Tuscany. Last year the invitation was extended to Karen MacNeil, food and wine writer and educator in the USA. This year the honour goes to Vanya Cullen of Australia, who along with Gina Gallo was roped in as an international judge at the second India Wine Challenge in 2008 chaired by Robert Joseph.

Cullen is a winemaker by training and works as the MD since 1999 at her 36-year old family owned Cullen Wines in Margaret River, considered one of Australia’s premium boutique wineries. Her palate has been honed by judging throughout Australia and overseas where here expertise has been quite useful. An interesting episode at the India Wine Challenge 2008 at the Hyatt Regency Hotel, New Delhi is worth recollecting. There was a wine from New Zealand that was vying for a Bronze and had polarized views on whether to be awarded a medal or not, generating deep discussion. We sought the opinion of Vanya who was presiding another panel. On tasting she found the wine of a very discerning quality and explained to the judges that this was a very difficult wine to produce and whosoever the producer had done an excellent job. The wine fighting for a Bronze was awarded Silver unanimously. This is also one of the strengths of this competition where the judges discuss freely the quality aspects till they come to an agreement.

Cullen Wines has evolved making quality wine from a certified Biodynamic, Carbon Neutral and naturally powered Wilyabrup Estate. Vanya was the winner of the 2000 Qantas/The Wine Magazine Winemaker of the year. She was the first Western Australian and the first woman to win the award. She was Drinks Business Magazine’s Woman of the Year in 2008. In the December 2012 issue of DB featuring 50 most powerful women in the wine industry, she was listed at #28 (incidentally, Debra Meiburg MW Director and chairperson of this competition, was also listed -at #7). She was the “Green Personality of the Year” in 2011 for her commitment to the wine industry.

Subhash Arora has been invited as an Asian judge from the very first year and has been appointed as the President of a panel at every competition since he started visiting in 2009. He has been instrumental in getting the organisers to add one Indian dish (chicken tikka) in the food and wine category and is trying to add another dish in category once the participation in this section increases-due to increasing popularity of the Indian cuisine in South Asia.  As an independent judge, he refrains from judging Indian wines, however.

Although entries for the Competition to be held in October, will be accepted till September 13, there are early bird discounted rates  of HK$1288 instead of  HK$ 1500 valid till 28 March. Food and wine category has much reduced charge of HK$500. For those participating in the HK International Wine and Spirits Fair from November 7-9, there is a further discount and they pay only HK$1000 each. There are minor discounts for higher numbers of samples submitted.

Click For Large ViewAt the last HKIWSC competition India bagged 5 Bronzes- with Four Seasons Ritu Blush Rose 2012 bagging a medal in both the wine and wine-n-food pairing in the chicken tikka category. Their Viognier also bagged the Bronze in the Pad Thai section in this category. York Winery was awarded a Bronze each for their Chenin Blanc and Sauvignon Blanc. In the previous year, Sula had bagged medals (even a Silver, if my memory is not failing me) in the earlier edition.

Although Bronze and Silver Awards show commendable efforts by Indian producers, we must not sit on our laurels until we strike Gold and even then that would only be a milestone for Indians to be proud of. So- guys, let’s go Early Birds for that historical Gold during this year’s competition!

For details on how to enter the competition, visit or write to for details and registration.

For earlier related articles, please visit:
HKIWSC: 4th edition concludes successfully with Record Entries
WSA & HKIWSC: Tale of Two International Competitions

Subhash Arora


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