A novelty this year is the listing of previous winners in the category. We haven't given any runner-up awards this time as we feel this complicates the situation and removes potential winners in the future.
We sometimes add or subtract categories so this year for instance we award no prize for best in-flight wine as we don't drink on flights any more and in any case, very little effort seems to be made in this field in these days of ever more minuscule airline profits and plenty of losses.
Best Red Wine Discovery
|Ribeyrenc vines intersown with Ragwort|
it ticks all Slotovino's boxes
|Ribeyrenc grafted onto a Muscat vine|
That taste just had to exist even if we had never experienced it until now." That has been our reaction to some of our favourite discoveries such as Ramisco, Persan, Pineau D'Aunis, Poulsard, Gringet etc.
2009/10 Tocai Rosso
2008/09 Vernaccia Nera (actually the runner up to what we thought was 'Francisi' - the grape
of Santa Ne. We later discovered Santa Ne is a blend albeit of rare varieties).
Best White Wine Discovery
Malvasia. OK Slotovino reader, we know this is one of the most common varieties in the world but one which has been cold-shouldered, ostracised, played down, concealed even and is only re-emerging as something whose name can be mentioned in polite society quite recently.
Its ubiquitousness, like that of Trebbiano results in some wonderful sub-zone variations such as Malvasia Istriana, Malvazija Istarska, Malvasia delle Lipari, Malvasia di Salina
Malvasia di Grottaferrata, Malvasia di Bosa, Malvasia di Planurgia, Malvasia di Candia, Malvasia Puntinata, Malvasia di Lazio and 12 Portuguese varieties which may or may not be related but go under the same name. These include Malvasia Fina, Malvasia Candida, Malvasia Rei, Malvasia Corada and Malvasia da Trincheira.
Malvasia is also a grape used in Madeira (Rossini's favourite wine) and there is of course the Malvasia Nera but we can't discuss that here.All we can say is we have never met a Malvasia we didn't like and quite a few we liked very much. One by Birichino in California went down particularly well this year.
2010/11 Kerner as in Astley Vineyards 'Veritas'
2009/10 Torrontes as in Cinco Tierras Cafayate, Salta
Grisard's Rose de Mondeuse; as deliciously light and refreshing as a mountain stream and also as pure.
2010/11 Strohmeier Blauer Wildbacher Rose (Austria)
2009/10 Ackerman Sparkling Cabernet Franc (Loire)
2008/09 Vitkin Israel Journey Rose.
Best wine merchant, London
2009/10 Artisan & Vine jointly with Bertrand and Nicholas
2008/09 Caves de Pyrene jointly with Zelas
Best wine merchant outside London (new category)
Henderson, Edinburgh. This is where we obtained an Australian 100% Pineau Meunier Sparkling wine and a white burgundy from a grape that doesn't even have a name! What more can we say?
Best wine merchant, rest of world
Ricerca Vini, Milano. Excellent place for anyone looking for something out of the ordinary.
2010/11 Chambers Street Wines, New York
2009/10 Caves des Pupilles jointly with Caves Auge, both of Paris
2008/09 Astor (New York) jointly with Per Bacco of Milano.
Best UK Supermarket
Marks and Spencer. We had already noticed some fascinating bottles creeping in even before we had the pleasure of meeting Jo Ahearne MW their wine buyer who has since moved to Harrods.
On subsequent visits more and more interesting bottles have appeared including
A dry PX (Pedro Ximenez)
Bellota 100% Eva de los Santos (a Spanish white grape!)
La Salrosita Blanco (Garnacha Blanca)
2010/11 No award
2009/10 Whole Foods
2008/09 No award
Best Airport Duty Free
Cristoforo Colombo, Genova
Small but interesting.
2010/11 Vino Volo, various US airports
2009/10 Lavinia, Malaga
2008/09 Schwechat, Vienna, runner up Marco Polo, Venezia
Worst Airport Duty Free
Dufry, Malpensa. Why? because we bought a bottle of Pino Nero vinificato in Bianco which turned out to be severely oxidized. Having paid cash, we had not kept the receipt before tasting. Dufry didn't bother to answer letters and when a kind person going through Malpensa brought up the subject, they gave us the email address through which to make our representation. This elicited a reply asking for a request for all kinds of unnecessary and bureaucratic information:
Would you be so kind as to send us a copy (scan or picture) of the whole sales receipt as well as the personal information below:
passport number and its nationality:
state & country:
The personal information requested is to formalize and register your complaint/request and contact with Dufry.
It’s a normal procedure of the company for all worldwide customers.
It is Dufry’s aim to achieve the best solution to satisfy our customers’ requirements, consequently, all cases will be considered individually, taking into account applicable local consumer laws.
Proof of purchase must be presented in all cases
which we provided only to be told that without the receipt nothing could be done. We had kept the bottle and sent them the bar code together with other photos, proof that we had passed through the airport on the day of purchase etc. The cost of the wine was small (about 10 Euros) so the refund was not our primary object. We wanted to alert Dufry that this wine was oxydised in a way that suggested our bottle might not be the only one to be spoiled. We asked them how many other people buying this wine had contacted them and they replied that there had been none.
Perhaps other customers had just not bothered. Dufry didn't say if they had tasted any other bottle. Oh and just for the record, they actually print on their plastic bags that they exchange, refund etc.
We don't think this is good enough considering that all their customers are safely miles away after making their purchases.
PS. Travelling through Marseille Provence (T.2) the other day we asked the knowledgeable lady in charge of Wine what would happen if a passenger found a purchase to be undrinkable on arrival back home and she shrugged saying firstly that this had never happened in her experience and secondly that there was nothing that could be done in such circumstances, receipt or no receipt! So the message to all punters at Duty Free is
Caveat Emptor - quality control may not be of the standard one can expect from those selling to customers who are in a position to take the wine back and above all keep the receipt if you don't want to give a pretext for refusing a refund or replacement of a bad bottle.
2008/09 Berlin Tegel
Best Promotional Outlet
Georgian wines at the Real Wine Fair
This was not strictly a Promotional Outlet in the sense that previous winners had been;
2010/11 Vini nuovi Tai, Aeroporto Marco Polo, Venezia
2009/10 Museo del Vino, Malaga
2008/09 Vini Portugal, Porto, Lisbon
John Wurdeman of Pheasant's Tears and Bishop David of Alaverdi Monastery Cellar
Iago Bitarishvili of Iago's Wine
However, at the Real wine Fair, the 3 or 4 Georgian producers acted as one, covering for eachother, Introducing their colleagues and generally promoting Georgian wine. A heartening experience.
Most surprising wine discovery
Finding a bottle of 100% Chenanson at a Wine Merchant in le Touquet - a grape totally unknown to us prior to that.
2010/11 Biddenden Gribble Ridge Dornfelder (England)
Most interesting wine trend
New bottling materials including Paper!
2010/11 Improvement in Sparkling wines the world over
2009/10 Orange Wine
Prediction for 2012/13
The Chinese will buy up ever more Old World wine producers. this is happening already but we may not have seen nuttin' yet.
2010/11 The Fine Wine bubble will burst
2009/10 Ever more Branding
2008/09 Lower alcohol
Best Restaurant Wine List
Ristorante Nouvelle Vague, Genova. Only because it was so locally concentrated and didn't seem to feel any obligation to offer the usual wines from all over the world.
2010/11 Cafe Muzio, New York
2009/10 Locanda Locatelli, London
2008/09 Gramercy Tavern, New York
2010/11 Laure Patry, Pollen St. Social Club, London
2009/10 Frank, L'Antico, Kings Road, London
2008/09 Waterside Inn, Bray, England.
Most promising grape
Why? because we just love the combination of originality and drinkability. The example from Heitz shows that Grignolino can be replicated in the New World.. It should be grown much more commonly in our view.
Vigneron of the year
Paul Draper, Ridge Vineyards
Wonderful winemaker and human being. Co-creator of a classic built on the lessons of the past and research into the future. A lover of diversity in a region which sometimes seems to be smug in its self-imposed limitations.
2010/11 the team at Azienda Pravis, Trentino
2009/10 Alan Wallace Bruzzo, Colli Berici, Tocai Rosso
2008/09 Francisco Figuereido, Arenae, Colares
Most depressing marketing campaign
In general, those who sell on price only. (They know who they are but will be nameless here!).
2008/09 Berry Brothers and Rudd "Best Ordinary..."
Best kept wine secret
2008/09 New York State
Most pleasant surprise
Bordeaux Clairet (especially Ch. Lauduc). We always thought this might be a gimmick but Clairet has some claim to be nearer what Bordeaux might have resembled in the Middle Ages that what it has become. It also occupies that uncommercial area of wine that is between rose and red which we find interesting. Wine-merchants tell us Rose is only marketable if it is pale pink. We like to think we are not so superficial as to ignore the deeper Roses and now Clairets. Bardolino Chiaretto also recommended itself to us this year as being one of the few overpriced wines worth buying from UK airport Duty Free shops. So good indeed that it was no longer available the last time we looked.
2010/11 Three alternatives to Prosecco; Pignoletto, Spergola, Passarina)
2009/10 Segal Argamon
Best lower alcohol wines
Domaine Grisard. Their wines are consistently modest in alcohol which cannot be said of all Savoyard wines; indeed some of the top end Mondeuses are distinctly alcoholic.
2010/11 T. Navarre "Les Oeillades"
Caribbean retailers. The wines are most often spoiled by high heat and low turnover.
2008/09 Pub wines
Best English wines
Red; Bolney Pinot Noir, Comes under the category of so good you wouldn't know it's English.
White: Biddenden Gribble Ridge Ortega. Aromatic or what?
We managed not to notice the arrival of this most important and estimable addition to the wine scene in London, the UK and thanks to their excellent website, no doubt the world, more than a year ago. There are scores of English Red, White, Pink and Sparkling wines selected with great care and discernment from all over England and Wales. There are very many discoveries to be made here thanks to excellent and erudite advice and excellent opportunities to sample. The tiny shop in busy Borough Market have nonetheless room to stock Cheeses and Cured Meats in order to help bring the customers in. We wish them the very best of luck and look forward to being their clients for years to come.