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Friday, 14 November 2014

IWSC, McGuigan and Catena Dinner

A tasting of IWSC winners, Catena and McGuigan wines
The outgoing and newly installed Presidents of the IWSC could not, at first acquaintance, be more different; petite Argentinean Laura Catena is glamorous with a mischievous, lilting accent whilst Aussie Neil McGuigan is an effusive, heavy-lifting, salt-of-the earth, rough diamond.
And yet they both have one thing in common - the immigrant's work ethic and desire for constant self-improvement. In Neil's words, you get up every morning and ask yourself how you can do things better.
Is it fair to say that with less of a heritage about established norms, less to lose / more to gain and fewer vins de garde generally, the New World needs and welcomes this attitude more than the Old? Let's say it's probably a helpful oversimplification.
We started our evening with a tri-partite tasting of IWSC winners (mostly Golds), then Catena and McGuigan wines before a dinner matched with some of Laura's and Neil's flagship wines.
I am, in general, a supporter of wine competitions; any wine that has been tasted and assessed by a panel and awarded a sensible medal holds little to fear for the open-minded wine enthusiast. Faced with a wall of unfamiliar wines in a supermarket, I will always pick the medal-winner.
And the IWSC judges did not lie - the award-winners were all good.
At the entry level, McGuigan's vibrant, zesty whites and spicy Syrah showed precision and nuance, something the Catena wines rather lacked but which works for the US market.
At the top-end, however, it was all reversed: the Aussie reds were like American supercars - big, muscular and substantial, but lacking finesse - whilst those from Argentina were ballerina-esque - lithe, delicate and nuanced yet powerful.
My wine of the night was the Catena Zapata Adrianna 2010 - until the Catena Zapata Nicolas 2004 (below centre, in magnum) was poured.
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