To the heart of the Vinari 2021 Awards
We discover how the final tasting of the awards is organised at the Celler de Rubí, in a ritual ceremony to select the best wines of Catalonia.
An old cellar, with thick walls supported by large wine vats, hosted the best wines of Catalonia for hours. Only the organisers were allowed into the room where these influential wines were being served. Total secrecy. There, wines were waiting to be tasted, one after the other, separated by categories and with a cover that prevented the label from being read. Outside, around twenty sommeliers, oenologists, and wine critics sat at the tables and received instructions. This is how the Celler de Rubí held the final tasting of the Vinari 2021 Awards on Monday.
“This space is for us a jewel, our cathedral, a journey into the past to look to the future with enthusiasm. It is up to you today to discover the best wines produced in Catalonia. It is an honour for the city”, the mayoress of Rubí, Ana María Martínez, began to celebrate. The facility has witnessed this final tasting since the birth of the awards, which this year celebrate their ninth edition. The truth is that all wines that will be tasted this Monday at the Celler de Rubí are excellent: they are the finalists that stood out in the first phase from among nearly 200 that registered. The 11Onze team, which is an official sponsor, has been a luxury spectator of the event.
With precise instructions from the director of the awards, Ester Bachs, tasters have begun the ritual. “Wines are here to score”, she pointed out. Bachs conducted the event with scrupulous respect and reminded the attendees that the Vinari Awards continue to be held and to support the wine sector, which is suffering the effects of the pandemic, but also of the weather after this year several areas of the country have suffered droughts. Then, she began to explain how to use the tablets for the scoring, went on to detail the scoring scale, which goes from 1 to 100, and that is not expected to go below 80, and finally, she cleared up doubts.
Value like a goldsmith, taste like a fan
The tasters get impatient. They tidy up the table and fidget in their chairs. Organisers have arranged them four by four, on large tables with string tablecloths. The glasses are placed around the table, the tablet on one side, and on the other, paper and pencil. The ceremony begins: first the whites are served, then the blacks, and finally the sparkling and sweet wines. Tasters celebrate with each wine a feast that begins with the sight, continues with the nose, and ends with the tasting.
Jordi Martínez, oenologist, sommelier, and owner of a select wine shop in Guissona, the Selecte Wine Store, tells us that he has participated in the awards almost from the beginning and that his passion for wines runs in his family because despite being from the Lleida region, which produces little wine compared to other areas of Catalonia, he has had his own production.
Under the distracted gaze of his companions, Martínez explains that each wine is assessed separately and that none of the wines they taste is bad. Sometimes, he admits, the taster has a special bond with some wines, because they have a strange touch that only a true fan can perceive, but at the end of the day, they must select those wines that will be valued in a wide market. Despite being a blind tasting, the winemaker also acknowledges that, if they pay enough attention, the more experienced tasters even know what area the wine comes from and what grapes it is made from. In the final tasting, however, they are not asked to do any analysis other than that of the palate. And although the scoring is individual, tasters at each table can share their impressions.
-I won’t tell you what smell comes to my mind…
-Why? Tell us, come on…
-I smell a damp rag smell…
-Yes, yes, you’re not wrong… -I smell like marijuana if I’m honest…
-Don’t you? -It’s like a tomato plant!
-For me, it’s an 84!
The wines with the best scores during the final tasting will be announced at the Gala de Tardor to be held on Friday, October, 8, at Vilafranca del Penedès Auditorium, a day full of surprises, that will be possible to follow live on Televisió de Catalunya. The awards ceremony will also recognise the best professional career in the world of wine, the best label, the best winery, the best taster, and the best ecological project, as well as the best innovative initiative and wine tourism promotion.
The Vinari Awards for Catalan wines, organised by the digital newspaper VADEVI.cat, were created in 2013 with the aim of raising awareness of the excellence of the wines produced in the country and to guide the final consumer on the diversity and quality of local wine projects. In the Rubí winery, under the watchful eye of the vats, we leave them deliberating.
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