Over 200 wine aficionados and industry figureheads converged on the Sheraton Towers for the 9th iteration of the G Top 100 Wine Awards last night. Breaths were bated. After all, 2015 was noteworthy for a bumper crop of entrants from New World territories, and the industry and consumers both were keen to see where these stood.
So as certain hush fell upon the ballroom when Sylvester Ng, project editor of Gourmet & Travel magazine, delivered his welcoming address and laid out the stakes. Around 200 entries from more than two dozen suppliers and 16 countries were blind-tasted over two days, by an independent and esteemed panel chaired by Edwin Soon.
The results? Vindication for the distributors who ventured beyond safe options, with just over 40 of the Top 100 Wines hailed from regions such as New Zealand, India, South Africa. Australian wines, noteworthily, rang up an astonishing count of 22 in the Top 100. Two of the coveted Top 5 Wine Awards went to South Africa and New Zealand, for the White Wine and Sweet Wine of the Year awards, respectively.
The diversity that showed through this year’s list was the talking point of the night, evident after the 200-strong audience filed into the adjoining rooms where tasting booths, live food stations and the sultry jazz of a live band provided a conducive backdrop for a discussion of the night’s proceedings.
“I think it’s great that there was more representation this year, because people always turn to (labels) that are dominating the market,” said panellist Tan Ying Hsien of Taberna Wine Academy, who is the first Singaporean to clinch the Master of Wine title (MW). Pointing out that importing from relatively unknown wineries and regions is ‘a great risk’, he lauded the distributors for their ‘courageous’ efforts, and hoped they would not shy away from continuing this trend.
Said distributors were, likewise, happy that their gambits had paid off.
“The recognition given by the awards means a lot to us. (The platform) is a huge motivation that lets us know we’re doing things right, makes it worth it,” says Gerard Zhang from winning distributor Stellez Vine. The company clinched top honours for their sweet wine entry, the 2013 Newton Johnson, Family Vineyards Chardonny from New Zealand . It also made Top 100 for the 2012 Grand Constance from Groot Constantia in South Africa.
Belinda Lai of SUTL Wines and Spirits, which brought in an Australian dry white placed in the Top 100, said the win was a milestone achievement and affirmation that they had provided for their customers to the best of their ability.
Panellist Lam Fook Ping made broader observations of the submitted wines. “They’re of a much higher drinkability, compared to perhaps three or four years ago. I think it’s a good direction.”
As the happy crowd ebbed away, slightly inebriated, he summed up the takeaway of the night: “Consumers, stay curious, and distributors, stay confident.”