Newcomers catching up with Old World winemakers

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New World winemakers are catching up fast with skilled Old World vintners to produce some of the globe's finest tipples, Decanter magazine's prized annual awards showed on Sunday.

The results were released in France's wine capital Bordeaux, at the kick-off of the world's biggest wine fest, Vinexpo. Decanter's 35 international trophies went to 18 wines from Europe, while the remaining 17 were for star newcomers from Australia, Argentina, Chile, New Zealand and South Africa.

The winners were picked from almost 16,000 bottles after lengthy blind tastings in London by more than 200 masters of wine and master som- meliers.

"It is not enough for a wine to be excellent. It has to be the best of its kind," taking in the grape, soil, price and region, said Mr Steven Spurrier, chairman of the Decanter World Wine Awards.

While France, the world's leading wine producer, took home the most trophies with eight, the magazine highlighted the fact that a Spanish wine by Miguel Torres won the award for high-end Red Bordeaux, with a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot grapes.

The "victory in a Bordeaux category is a further example of Spain's growing reputation for quality", Decanter said.

Spain won five trophies, followed in Europe by three for Italy and one each for Portugal as well as Slovenia. Slovenia won its prize for a sweet wine sold at over €20 (S$30.20), while another surprise was British retailer Marks & Spencer which scored global best for a Chardonnay priced less than €20 under its own label.

More and more good wine was being produced in unexpected places, Mr Spurrier said at a news conference, where a new red wine from Turkey was singled out for praise along with Swiss wines made of little-known grapes.

A much-lauded Moroccan wine was produced from an older vineyard, but showed that the country's wines "are now more elegant", he added.

In the new world, Australia and South Africa picked up five trophies, Argentina three, Chile and New Zealand two.

 
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