Ham&High features in fabulous Roederer evening
There were no coveted magnums of Cristal making their way to Ham&Highland after last week s presentation of the Roederer International Wine Writers Awards 2008 – but losers and winners alike applauded the champagne house s generosity in rewarding the best
There were no coveted magnums of Cristal making their way to Ham&Highland after last week's presentation of the Roederer International Wine Writers Awards 2008 - but losers and winners alike applauded the champagne house's generosity in rewarding the best communication, in a variety of media, about what has recently been described as the "only truly social beverage".
It could have been an all too incestuous affair, with peers judging peers. But while wine communicators figured among the judges, they were balanced by others whose professional role is to be on the receiving end of the words. And that, I reckon, justifies this column: reporting the results sends you, dear reader, to the places where you can best boost your wine pleasure and understanding.
Hampstead's Jancis Robinson, first woman Master of Wine and hugely respected writer and author, was shortlisted in two categories: online for her website, www.jancisrobinson.com, and books for her collaboration with Hugh Johnson in the latest edition of The World Atlas of Wine.
But in the first, the award went to Scot Tom Cannavan, whose www.wine-pages.com has set the standard for wine communication on the net for more than a decade. If you haven't logged on yet, do so now - there's a wealth of information, opinion, special offers and regular competitions. Surprisingly, this was Tom's first-ever major award and his delight was widely shared.
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In the book category small was beautiful, as The World Atlas (Mitchell Beazley), an immensely detailed and authoritative tour of the whole wine world, was pipped by the Wine & Food Lover's Guide to Portugal by Charles Metcalfe and Kathryn McWhirter (Inn House Publishing). Read it and realise just how much detailed effort was put in; "groundbreaking" was one tribute during the Roederer evening. It was more than a massive research and writing effort: as the publisher's name neatly indicates, the husband-and-wife-team saw it through all the way.
The Ham&High's name also appeared on the big screens, shortlisted in the regional wine writing category, but here again the magnum headed north, in the hands of Scotland on Sunday's Will Lyons, another new name in wine awards.
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With a broader brief, Andrew Jefford, the most stylish of wine writers and someone who knows his stuff wonderfully, was rewarded with the title of International Wine Feature Writer for his work in Decanter, the FT and The World of Fine Wine. He was shortlisted as well for columnist of the year, for articles in Waitrose Food Illustrated - that award was won by Anthony Rose of The Independent - and for his champagne writing.
Of course, there is a champagne category (won this year by champagne guru Tom Stevenson), but no pressure to be fizz-oriented otherwise.
Roederer used the 2008 awards evening to showcase its new livery, and to demonstrate how well its wines match equally classy food. The rose, much more robustly flavoured than its subtle, delicate colour indicates, was a particular treat with an mini-cornet of crispy duck with shiso and hoi sin sauce.
I'm prejudiced, naturally, but Roederer champagnes are very fine, so toast the award winners in any of these (prices are recommended retail): Brut Premier, £34; Blanc de Blancs, £63; Rose, £60; Cristal, £150.
Stockists include Fortnum & Mason, Harvey Nichols, Planet of the Grapes and Vintage House.