Opinion: More than a marathon

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Drinks: Wines
Other: Opinion

The Losh blog has, I admit, been a bit quiet over the last month or so. If you thought that your life had become a little humdrum; was missing that frisson of excitement brought about by exposure to ill thought-out ramblings; that your very existence, in fact, seemed to lack purpose, then I apologise.

What do you mean, you never noticed?

Anyway, the last four weeks or so have been a bit mental, what with the final stages of training for, then running, the Brighton Marathon, and also going through the whole set of results of this year’s Sommelier Wine Awards.

One was an enormous, physically demanding ordeal that seemed to go on for ever. The other was a marathon.

The latter, in fact, was surprisingly enjoyable. Great weather, great crowds and I managed not to finish behind anybody dressed as a cartoon character or – as happened at my first half-marathon in February – somebody dressed as a toilet who was running for Water Aid.

No, going through the results of this year’s Sommelier Wine Awards was far harder. Not just because there were more wines and, therefore, more winners, but because we had such a lot of great feedback from the tasters during the comp that pulling reams and reams of notes together at the end was a mammoth task.

Worth it though. The end result – our Little Gold Book (a kind of camp homage to Chairman Mao’s communist manifesto, but with tasting notes) – will be out next month with the May/June issue of Imbibe, and it’s stuffed with great feedback.

I like to think of it as a snapshot of what’s going on in the wine world (and, more specifically, the UK wine market) as seen through the unforgiving gaze of some of this country’s top sommeliers.

And what did did we learn this year? Well, you’ll get the full story in the Little Gold Book, but essentially this was a year when Europe – particularly France and Italy – bit back. A trend probably not unconnected to the stellar 2009 vintage in France.

Beaujolais, in particular, seemed to have the kind of year that comes along once in a generation. And while the Rhone has been an exciting performer in this competition for a while, I bet few of you would have expected it to do so well with white wines as it did this year.

In fact, if you had to pick one star grape from this year’s Sommelier Wine Awards, it’s probably Syrah. More than Pinot Noir it seems to be the varietal that the New World is doing astonishing things with everywhere from New Zealand to Limari.

There were other highlights too – Chianti, Alsace Riesling, Tuscany and even Carmenere (!), plus a few rather underperforming or downright poor categories. But I won’t pick those out here – you can flick through the Book at leisure when it comes out.

And of course I hope you’ll use it to help improve your own list.

That’s what will justify my locking myself in my garret for a month until my brain hurt and help to balance the fact that you didn’t get the (ahem) benefit of my musings.

I just hope your life has regained some semblance of meaning again now.

What do you mean, you didn’t notice?

About Author

Chris Losh

After five years working on My Weekly magazine (during which time he learned how to write horoscopes and make things out of mince) in 1995 Chris Losh entered the world of drinks writing and, despite all advice from his doctor – and the wishes of most South African winemakers – has stayed there ever since. He began on Wine and Spirit International, editing it for several years before moving on to edit Wine Magazine. Both publications have since gone the way of the Dodo, but he claims to have nothing to do with their demise, and his alibi appears solid, since he was freelance writing for anyone who would pay him at the time. In 2007, he helped to set up both Imbibe magazine and the Sommelier Wine Awards, and has spent much of the last three years eating, drinking, and listening to French sommeliers talk about minerality. In 2009 he was shortlisted for the Louis Roederer Feature Writer of the Year, but didn’t win. Perhaps he should have stuck to horoscopes. And mince.

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