The 1st International Wine Tasting and Rating Challenge of the F.I.C.B. took place in the Helsinki region from 6 to 9 June 2019 under a summer sun. It was organized by the Knights of the Vine of Finland in the beautiful setting of Haikko Manor near Porvoo on the shores of the Baltic Sea. This brotherhood celebrated on this occasion its 20th anniversary.
The event was prepared by the host brotherhood, under the chairmanship of Timo JOKINEN, a Finnish expert internationally renowned in wine and gastronomy. In addition to a festive and gastronomic program, took place an individual blind tasting contest and a collective wine appraisal of the wines served during the meals, many of which had been provided by producers from wine regions with Brotherhood members of the F.I.C.B.
At the opening of the Challenge, Alan BRYDEN, president of the F.I.C.B. emphasized that the participants would write a page in the history of the Federation by inaugurating this new type of international event. He added that he hoped that Brotherhood members of the F.I.C.B. would use the rules developed and applied for the first time to carry out such competitions themselves, thus contributing to promote the expertise and recognition of their members in terms of knowledge of grape varieties and appreciation of wines.
The rules of the Challenge had been developed by a working group of experts from our brotherhoods and approved by our executive committee. Their first implementation in Finland was supervised by a Jury composed of professionals belonging to our brotherhoods: Prof. Kathleen BURK (U.K. Wine Guild), David BARBER (Knights of the Vine of America) and Giovanni SORDI (Lega del Chianti).
The individual blind tasting competition took place in two sessions of about one hour, the first devoted to the recognition and appreciation of grape varieties of red (5) and rosé (2) wines, the second to those of white (5) and effervescent (2) wines. Twenty participants, divided into two categories (”professionals” and ”connoisseurs”) were able to assess their knowledge of grape varieties and wines. They were asked to indicate, for each wine proposed, whether it was an assemblage or a single grape variety, what was the dominant grape, whether the wine was oaked or not, and, if blended, what was the second dominant grape and finally indicate the country where the wine had been produced.
The collective rating of the wines served during the meals was done blind at the beginning of each meal. Each participant assigned a score of 0-20 based on a visual, olfactory and taste assessment. The points were added for each red and white wine served and the ”preferred wine” in each category was determined by adding the points so allotted by all participants.
In addition to these two competitions, the program included an induction ceremony in the host wine brotherhood which took place in the beautiful Porvoo Town Hall, under the leadership of Arttu KALLI, Grand Master of the Knights of the Vine of Finland and of Buddy HAGNER, Grand Commander of the Knights of the Vine of America, in the presence of the Mayor of this city, Mr. Jukka-Pekka UJULA. The participants enjoyed visiting the picturesque old town of Porvoo, rebuilt in the eighteenth century after a fire that destroyed the medieval city.
Several tastings of Finnish wines (berry or honey wines, but also wine grapes vinified in Finland) were proposed, to the great pleasure (and surprise) of the participants. A fishing contest allowed the participants to compete in another field, and the winners were: Patricia ALT (Knights of the Vine of America), by the number of fish caught, and Lino of JESUS DIONISIO (Oeno-Gastronomic Brotherhood of Madeira Portugal), by the total weight of fish caught.
The gastronomic part of the program was not left out and allowed a broad overview of the flavors, meats, fish and sea (and lake) food of Finland.
The gala dinner was served in the pavilion of Haikko Manor Park, on the Baltic coast, where the winners of both competitions were announced:
Individual Blind Tasting Competition:
1st prize category ”professionals”: (Ms) Nan McLEARY (Knights of the Vine of America)
1st prize category ”connoisseurs”: Joe ALT (Knights of the Vine of America)
These two winners received a medal specially made for this competition
Collective appreciation of wines served during meals:
”Preferred red wine: Castello di Meleto Chianti Classico DOCG 50th anniversario Viticola 2016, Gaiole in Chianti Italy: www.castellomeleto.it
”Preferred white wine: Dubicz Matrai Olarizling Barrique 2017
The producers of these two wines received certificates from the F.I.C.B. and may use this distinction in their communication, under conditions approved by the Federation.
The gala dinner was closed with a ball hosted by an excellent Finnish jazz and blues band.
A two-day extension followed the Challenge and allowed participants to visit Helsinki and discover the city of Tallin in Estonia on the other side of the Gulf of Finland.
This first International Challenge of the F.I.C.B. has therefore been a great success. The 2021 edition is already envisaged, alternating with our International Congresses in Italy in 2020 and in Portugal in 2022.
Text by Mr Alan BRYDEN, president of the F.I.C.B