When I received the invitation to attend the first Investec event in their newly created series of The Stand debates my eyes must have lit up in excitement like those of a 5-year old about to unpack Christmas presents. Two of UK’s and world’s most influential wine experts, authors to a number of wine books on my bookshelf – Jancis Robinson MW and Oz Clarke – were to debate the strengths and weaknesses of Old World vs. New World wines.
I was thrilled about the opportunity to experience the two in a live discussion and hear their expertly opinions in favour of their respective territories in an attempt to convince the audience to vote for them at the end of the debate.
The event took place in a beautiful setting of LSO St. Luke’s, an 18th-century Grade I listed Hawksmoor church, restored to become the home of the London Symphony Orchestra’s community and an extraordinary venue for large-scale events.
Jancis and Oz each presented two wines to showcase their preference and support the arguments in favour of the Old World and New World respectively. The following tasting notes represent my personal perception of the wines, which wasn’t in all cases in line with that of the esteemed presenters. 🙂
TEAM OLD WORLD
2010 Saarburger Rausch Auslese, Zilliken: wonderful petrol notes typical for an ageing Riesling, pronounced aromas of lime and tropical fruit, medium-sweet palate accompanied by mouth-watering, refreshing, cleansing acidity. True quality made in Germany. With just over 7% alcohol you can drink this wine – as Jancis said – even for breakfast!
2011 Dom. Jacques-Frederic Mugnier Clos de la Marechale, Nuits-Saint-Georges Premier Cru: this Pinot Noir was everything but pleasant to my palate. I found the “aroma” of farmyard extremely dominating and overpowering. Definitely not a sample I wanted to have a top-up of. (Spot-on comments by Oz on the endless names on French labels still make me giggle. And big thank you to Tim Atkin MW for disliking this one together with me!) 🙂
TEAM NEW WORLD
2015 Dog Point Sauvignon Blanc: off-dry start with a dry finish. A typical yet pleasant example of a NZ Sauvignon Blanc with typical notes of gooseberry, lime leaf and green bell pepper. A bit short on the finish.
2011 Undurraga T.H. Syrah Leyda: Delicious wine and my personal favorite of the evening. Mouth-watering acidity and pronounced sour cherry and black fruit along with peppery notes. A very elegant style which I am sure is very enjoyable on its own as well as with food. (Whoever thinks that drinking Chilean wine is like driving a Volvo should give this one a taste, it is everything but boring!)
What turned out to be an immensely entertaining debate with Oz’ hilarious speech being the highlight of the evening has resulted in a rather surprising outcome of a narrow victory for the Old World with 54% of the votes.
As a big fan of New World wines myself (as opposed to often overpriced Bordeaux and Burgundy), this wasn’t a result I was hoping for. But meeting great people in such a special venue whilst enjoying delicious canapes with free flowing wine of your choice post-debate made up for the defeat of New World on that night. Big thank you to Investec for this flawlessly executed, very special evening.