By Jim Boyce
We have the results for the Grape Wall Challenge and I plan to post them later today. In the meantime, some photos from this year’s event.
The Grape Wall Challenge white wine panel after the tasting. Every judge left with a certificate, a bottle of wine, a corkscrew and a copy of fellow Grape Wall Contributor Li Demei’s wine book. Plus lots of confidence given they had just blind-tasted and judged 20 wines.
This year’s event was at F by Tribute in Beijing, following in the footsteps of Modo (2011), Maison Boulud (2010) and Maxim’s de Paris (2009). Owner Frank Sun and F&B director Brian Min were our key contacts at F by Tribute.
We asked the judges to rate each wine as “love it”, “like it”, “don’t like it” or “hate it”, and to give a description of why. There was no “so so” option.
Both white wine and red wine judges blind-tasted 20 wines each, in flights of four. They had ~10 minutes per flight, with the tasting taking about an hour.
Grape Wall contributor and sommelier Nicolas Carre handled the wines, and glamorous tasks like making bottle stickers, while professor Ma Huiqin chaired both panels and I covered logistics with graduate students Gao Wei and Guo Wenjuan.
After the blind tasting, we unveiled the bottles, and the judges wrote down the names of their favorites. We had wines from countries including China, Italy, France, South Africa, Chile, Argentina, Australia and Germany.
Professor Ma Huiqin led a talk with each panel to discover which wines they liked and disliked, and why. Several journalists sat on each of the panels to try the wines and hear from the consumers.
Some bottles from the white wine tasting: Eleven distributors joined this year, including Aussino, ASC, China Wines & Spirits, East Meets West, French Wine Paradox, Links, Mercuris, MQ, Pernod Ricard, Summergate and Torres.
F by Tribute provided a three-course meal for each judge, with several options for the main course, including this skirt steak.
Given Beijing had a rare snowy day during the Grape Wall Challenge, the French onion soup proved to be a popular warmer with the judges.
Red wine judges gathered late in the afternoon. The third glass poured was corked and professor Ma Huiqin explained this fault and how it occurs.
Some red wines in the competition. In past years, Pinotage has done very well with the red wine judges. This year? We’ll find out soon.
The red wine judges check the bottles after the tasting. Overall, the quality of red wines seemed higher this year than in previous ones.
I’ll have more photos — and, of course, the results — soon.