The first leg of India Wine Challenge took place in London last week under the chairmanship of Robert Joseph with over 250 wines participating A dozen judges from India and the UK awarded Gold, Silver and Bronze medals as also the Seal of Approval to over a third of wines. Subhash Arora, one of the three Indian judges at the tasting reports:
The maiden edition of India Wine Challenge was held on October 31 and November 1 under the chairmanship of well known UK wine author, journalist and jurist, Robert Joseph. Over two hundred fifty wine labels from around the world were tasted by a panel of twelve judges, three of which had been invited from India to give the Indian palate a chance.
The competition is being held in conjunction with Montgomery International, London who are also holding IFE-India 2007 in Delhi on 6-8 December where the Awards will be announced and possibly the visitors may get to taste some of these wines.
Which Wines and Why London
The entry to the competition is open to any wine producer in the world. Pragmatically speaking, only those producers whose wines are already present or planning to enter the Indian market would be interested to participate in the project as the awards can be helpful in their efforts of wine promotion.
The first leg at London was primarily for producers who plan to enter Indian market and do not have an importer yet. Getting their wines into India with the complexities of customs and excise could be a cumbersome process- a couple of years ago when the similar competition was held in Russia, some of the samples sent a month before the competition were not released till the date of judging, due to bureaucracy.
To facilitate such producers, they were requested to send the samples directly to the offices of Montgomery where they were stored till the competition was held.
Why the India Wine Challenge
The Challenge is specifically directed at the Indian palate and market. A majority of Judges from India would judge them giving due weightage to what Indian consumer would like to drink. 'Wine Competitions are an inaccurate science,' admits Robert who, having organised and taken part in scores of them is always looking for improvement.' 'They are like religion. No one can say his is better than the other's and one is always seeking the truth,' says he.
'It is important to have the local judges give their opinions. Otherwise, what is the sense in having an India, China or Thailand Wine Challenge? If your palate likes New World style wines, there is no point in having the Old World judges dictate to you and tell you which wines you should be drinking,' emphasises Robert. This makes the India Challenge significant for the Indian market.
The essence of any creditable competition is the objectivity, honesty and integrity and of course the competence and neutrality of the judges, their personal tastes notwithstanding. All the 9 judges from London were impeccable in their tasting capabilities, experience and dedication-2 were MWs, 1 was an MBE and all the others were senior persons from the trade. Indian judges were non-aligned, neutral, experienced and as good as any in India.