Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Louis Roederer Wine Writers Awards

Monday night was nerve-wracking and exciting in equal measure. It was the Louis Roederer Wine Writers' Awards and I was up for Best Emerging Wine Writer.

I arrived at the Gherkin intoxicated by the promise of the evening. We all had to check our bags, Heathrow Airport style, through an X-ray machine, and walk through a metal detector. Christelle went off.

Shooting up 35 floors in the speedy lift, I got a rush of blood to the head, but was soon rewarded with a spectacular view across the London skyline. It was a Dickensian evening – smoggy and grey, and the city stretched out before me like a painting. The sky seemed to mirror the colour of the buildings out of sympathy. I spotted St Paul's in the foreground. It looked so tiny, like a scaled down miniature. The whole vista looked imaginary - a painted backdrop to our reverie.

I grabbed a glass of Roederer from a passing waiter and was disappointed to discover that my bellyful of butterflies wasn't enough to deter me from the canap├ęs. I had hoped, for once, to be able to show some restraint. Soon however, we were being ushered up another floor into the tip of the Gherkin, where we were greeted by Louis Roederer head Frederic Rouzaud.

The evening drew a number of the wine world twitterati: Jancis Robinson was stood to my right in a tailored gray jacket, and Tim Atkin to my left. Rouzaud introduced the latest vintage of Cristal – 2004, which we all got to try. I remember being more impressed with the 2002 last year, but that may have had something to do with the novelty factor of trying it for the first time. The '02 was golden and rich in flavour, while the '04 seemed far more subtle and introverted.

Charles Metcalfe took the stage and the awards were announced. I was up against the dynamo that is Rebecca Gibb, Jancisrobinson.com's Richard Hemming and Gabriel Savage of The Drinks Business. Rebecca and I were stood next to each other, and, after racing through the first award, they were suddenly announcing ours. My heart began to pound. This could be it. This could be my moment.

Charles read through the list – it was exhilarating just to hear my name called out. 'This person has been rewarded for her remarkable reporting that defies her young years'. I knew I hadn't won - all my articles were features. Rebecca Gibb's name was announced and she weaved her way through the crowd and up onto the stage.

Hats off to Rebecca; a deserved winner. Not only is she a Master of Wine student, but she freelancers for all the top wine titles and is about to set up a wine school in Aukland - I didn't stand a chance! Other winners on the night were Jancis Robinson for her website, Decanter's own Andrew Jefford, who was crowned Wine Columnist of the Year, and Simon Woods, who scooped Online Wine Columnist of the Year. I stuck around for a few more glasses of fizz, then sloped off into the night with a bottle of Roederer swinging by my side.

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