Well the 14th edition of the Concours Mondial, held in Palermo last weekend, is over and over 7000 bottles (6964 entries plus replacements for faulty bottles) are on their way to the local glass recycling plant. They should send a few to Portuguese artist Joana Vasconcelos, who makes Christmas tree sculptures for Joe Berardo out of them.
While the tasting was held in a generic conference hall, there were several features that made the competition truly Sicilian. Armies of heavies (who would make Guy Kebble look small) outside, to make sure only legit tasters gained entry and armed police inside, presumably checking for show tank samples and special barrel bottlings, popular in SA wine competitions.
Another dead giveaway was the behavior of local TV reporters around bella madonnas. Our six person panel was blessed with an Asian Princess from South Korea, which was worse than a bowl of chum on a WOSA shark cage diving experience. TV interviewers would nuzzle up against the unfortunate judge and rub themselves suggestively while asking coyly for her opinion on Sicilian wine. On second thoughts, perhaps this is why the heavies were on call – they were actually beverage bouncers.
SA was well represented by tasters, even if Dave Hughes and Milton Makhaza hail from Zimbabwe, Nelly Salvi lives in Bordeaux and Sue van Wyk was stranded in Singapore by volcanic activity on the other side of the planet. But then Sue is now a dinkum Aussie, so she no longer counts. At least Dave, the most experienced foreign taster in the local spittoon, was waving the flag for SA in the shape of a canary yellow T-shirt.
Adding fuel to the fire that Europe’s volcano melt down last week was a Baudrillard simulation that never happened, was our flight back from Paris this morning. The Air France Airbus A380 was way less than half full and yours truly called for a seat belt extender for a lie-flat four economy experience to rival Barack Obama on Air Force One.
You know the fine wine market is in serious trouble when Champagne producers enter flights of vintage 2004 in the hope of picking up a medal to boost sales. Heck, the Hexagon entered 2225 wines, which makes the 166 shipped by SA look pretty puny. Fiona McDonald recounts tasting some of the 300 Grand Cru Burgundies entered into the International Wine Challenge earlier this month by one UK importer. Strange that, to think that buyers of Grand Cru Burgundy would make a purchase based of an IWC medal – I’d have thought they’d have tasted the stuff themselves.
Foreswearing the feeding frenzy of lunch at the San Paolo Palace for a bowl of pasta at the Agro Dolce restaurant, owner Antonio showed off his single bottle of SA wine – a 2005 Cabernet from Zandberg. Three stars sighted by the Platter pundits (“showy & crowd-pleasing”) and gold from the Concours Mondial 2008 which was held in Bordeaux, a city which claims to know something about Cabernet Sauvignon, but then I may be wrong.