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Le Mondial du Pinot Noir 2010

What would you call spending 3 days in the incredibly beautiful district of Sierre, sampling the best Pinot Noir wines the world has to offer? I’d call it heaven, but the VINEA Association calls it by a more earthly name: Le Mondial du Pinot Noir.

A Brief Background

Le Mondial du Pinot Noir is an international wine competition organized by the VINEA Association.

Side note: The VINEA Association is publisher of the Swiss Wine Guide and organizer of the world-renowned Swiss Wine Fair (held every September) and the Swiss wine competition, Grand Prix du Vin Suisse.
Since 2006, it has managed the administrative side of the World Federation of Major International Competitions for Wines and Spirits (VinoFed). The VINEA Association organizes two prestigious international wine competitions, Le Mondial du Pinot Noir and Le Mondial du Merlot (which it co-organizes with ISICOM SA). Both of these competitions are members of VinoFed and enjoy the patronage of the International Organization of Vine and Wine (OIV) and the Union Internationale des OEnologues (UIOE).

Le Mondial du Pinot Noir is a competition focused on the Pinot Noir variety and other Pinot varieties (Pinot Gris and Pinot Blanc). Every year (starting from the very first Le Mondial du Pinot Noir in 1998), winemakers from various Pinot Noir-growing regions worldwide would gather in Sierre to present their best Pinot Noir appellations for sampling and judging by a panel of highly skilled international tasters.

The competing wines are tasted and judged using an evaluation sheet that combines the OIV form and the UIOE form for international competitions. The competition is organized strictly according to the rigorous standards set by the OIV. A computerized system is used to ensure that the competing wines are evaluated and rated in an orderly and systematic manner. The fairness and credibility of results are guaranteed; the composition of wine-tasting panels and awarding of prizes are in strict compliance to VinoFed’s rules and standards.

Side note: Wondering why Pinot Noir wines deserve special attention? Pinot Noir, with a total surface area of 85,000 hectares worldwide, is a very unique variety. Pinot Noir wines are exceptionally expressive of terroir [glossary] and their producers vine-growing and winemaking techniques. Le Mondial du Pinot Noir, therefore, serves as a venue for wine producers to showcase their terroir and winemaking skills. Those who can produce the best expressions of Pinot Noir are rewarded with the worldwide recognition they deserve. Pinot Noir lovers, on the other hand, leave knowing which Pinot Noir wines they must absolutely try next.

This year, Le Mondial du Pinot Noir was held from the 20th to the 22nd of August at the Chateau du Mercier in Sierre, Valais Switzerland and I’m glad to have been part of it.

The Wines

A little over 1,100 Pinot wines of different vintages, colors (red, white and rosé) and styles (dry, sweet, still, and sparkling) from 21 countries competed. The wines were grouped into three major categories: the Mondial du Pinot Noir Category, the Pinot Family Category and the Pinot Noir Producers World Champion Category. Le Mondial du Pinot Noir is mainly a Pinot Noir wine competition, but Pinot Gris and Pinot Blanc wines have a special place in the Discovery subcategory (under the Pinot Family major category).

At stake were gold medals, silver medals and the various special prizes: the Universe Trophy prize, the Bourgogne d’Aujourd’hui prize, the Older vintage prize, the VINOFED prize, the Producers of Pinot Noir World Champion Syngenta prize and the Viti sphere for Digital Communication prize.

The jury was composed of 60 experienced wine tasters from Argentina, France, Germany, Italy, Malaysia, Netherlands, New Zealand, Romania, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United States.

The Royal Treatment

I was one of the members of the jury, and this was my first time attending a VINEA function as a judge.  Although I’ve heard numerous accounts of how Le Mondial du Pinot Noir is always so superbly organized, the event still exceeded my expectations.

Top marks go to the competition’s organizers. Their excellent planning, outstanding preparation and faultless execution ensured the smooth flow of activities and made the event what it was: a huge success. Their impeccable hospitality, moreover, made for a truly memorable 3 days.

The organizers gave me and the rest of the jury a taste of the region’s history and culture by taking us on a tour of the nearby museums. We visited Foundation Pierre Gianadda and enjoyed the Nicolas de Staël Exhibition (this temporary exhibition will end on November 21st). We also made a special trip to Chateau d’Aigle, a 12th century fortress towering over rows and rows of vines and home to The Vine and Wine Museum.

The organizers also treated our palates to the best food and wine the region has to offer. The most memorable are the Chamoson Raclette dinner set amidst the world’s oldest Petite Arvine vineyards (owned by Rene Favre & Fils) and the luncheon at Hotel Le Terminus’ gourmet restaurant, Didier de Courten (rated 2 stars by the MICHELIN Guide and 19 points by Gault Millau).

Le Mondial du Pinot Noir was truly a treat. I enjoyed every minute I spent walking around the beautiful Sierre countryside with its lovely weather, stunning mountain vistas and endless vineyards. I loved sampling the Pinot Noirs and other Pinot varietals, and I deeply admire the wine producers dedication to bringing out the best in these varieties. Most of all, I appreciate the warm hospitality the people of Sierre and the VINEA Association have shown me and my fellow members of the jury.

Pinot producers, do you think you make one of the world’s best Pinots? There’s only one way to find out. Enter your wine(s) in Le Mondial du Pinot Noir! For more information about Le Mondial du Pinot Noir, please visit