Last time, I told you about my trip to Sierre, Valais, Switzerland for the 2010 Mondial du Pinot Noir. Just recently, I was in Switzerland again. This time, I made the trip to sit in the jury of a smaller but no less prestigious wine competition, the 2010 Mondial du Merlot, which was held from the 12th to 14th of November in Lugano, Ticino, Switzerland.
Mondial du Merlot: A Brief Background
Mondial du Merlot is a wine competition organized by the VINEA Association.
As its name suggests, Mondial du Merlot is a wine competition focused on Merlot wines, both varietals and blended Merlots.
A Mondial du Merlot award is a guarantee of excellence accepted and recognized worldwide. This competition is one of the 10 members of VINOFED and, as such, no more than 30% of the wine entries can win an award.
Mondial du Merlot’s credibility – specifically the credibility of its jury and its evaluation criteria/procedures and the reliability of its results – cannot be questioned. Mondial du Merlot has the patronage of the Organisation Internationale de la Vigne et du Vin (OIV), the Union Internationale des OEnologues (UIOE), the Union Suisse des OEnologues (USOE), and the Association Suisse des Sommeliers Professionnels. This is your guarantee that, in Mondial du Melot, the highest possible standards for wine tastings and evaluation are strictly enforced and followed.
In this year’s Mondial du Merlot, 300 plus Merlot wines competed. They hailed from the various Merlot production regions of France, Italy, Spain, Switzerland, Croatia, Greece, Chile, Argentina, Brazil, Ururgay, Romania, Bulgaria, Georgia, Australia, and the United States.
There were 3 main categories:
- Merlot varietals with 100 percent Merlot
- Merlot blends with at least 51% Merlot
- Old vintages (2005 or older) of Merlot varietals with 100% Merlot
There were also 3 main awards:
- Great Gold Medal, awarded to wines with 94.01 points or greater
- Gold Medal, awarded to wines with 89.01 to 94 points
- Silver Medal, awarded to wines with 84.01 to 89 points
For Great Gold Medal and Gold Medal awardees, special prizes were also up for grabs:
- The VINOFED Prize: For the wine that satisfied most of the judges (that is, the wine’s individual scores from jury members showed the smallest difference)
- The Banca WIR Prize: For the best Merlot in the competition
- The Older Vintage Prize: For the wine with the highest number of points in the Older Vintages category
- The VINEA Prize: For the best assemblage (blend) Merlot
- The ISICOM prize: For the producer that received the greatest number of medals
- The Univerre Trophy Prize: For the Swiss Merlot varietal wine that received the highest overall score
- The City of Lugano Prize: For the foreign wine that received the highest overall score
- The Best Merlot per Country Prize: For the best Merlot of each country
The winning wines were selected by a panel of 25 professionals from different parts of the world. These jury members are seasoned oenologists, wine journalists, professional tasters, sommeliers, and wine buyers.
Housed, Wined, Dined, and Entertained in Style
I can sing only praises for the organizers of the 2010 Mondial du Merlot. VINEA Association is exceptionally organized, as you would expect from event and competition organizers of their caliber. They were also very hospitable, making me (and the rest of the jury members, I’m sure) feel right at home.
We were housed in the hotel where the competition took place, the Grand Hotel Villa Castagnola. It was very convenient as we didn’t have to travel to the competition venue whenever it’s time to taste wines. More than that, however, the Grand Hotel Villa Castagnola was truly an excellent choice of accommodation. This 5-star resort hotel is set on the shores of Lake Lugano and has its own subtropical private park, so it provides an amazing scenery and a very relaxing atmosphere. The hotel’s service is also impeccable, and we were immediately given whatever we asked for or needed.
The organizers certainly did not neglect our palates. They spoiled us with succulent lunches and dinners that were overwhelming in quantity. We were also served delicious local meals in grottos and medieval castles.
Of course, we also did some sightseeing. We made a trip to the old city of Belinzona, and we visited the only winery in Lugano designed by the acclaimed architect, Mario Botta. Oenologist and jury member Cristina Monico also gave us a personal tour of her operations.
To the organizers of the Mondial du Merlot, thank you for inviting me to be one of the jury members. I very much enjoyed your wonderful hospitality and, of course, I loved sampling the best Merlot wines that the world has to offer. Your selection standards are truly first-rate. I was very impressed with the overall quality of the wine entries, and I was especially delighted to discover some real gems.
To Merlot wine producers, if you think you produce great Merlot, participate in next year’s Mondial du Merlot competition. Winning a Mondial du Merlot award is solid proof that you make truly world-class Merlot!