Wine lovers are delighted. Connoisseurs of fine wines are ready as the Concours Mondial de Bruxelles returns to its native city to celebrate its 20th anniversary, starting today. The Concours Mondial de Bruxelles makes an emotional return to Brussels, the city that saw its inception. In just twenty years, it has become the largest touring European wine tasting competition. Everything is now ready to welcome the prodigal child and bestow the title of Global Wine Capital on Brussels for three intense days of tastings. We will have a grand winner in next ten days.
In all, 8,060 wines from 58 producer countries will compete on May 2, 3 and 4, 2014 in the European capital. France remains the leading participating country with 2,428 entries, followed by Spain (1,615 entries), Italy (1,163), Portugal (965) and Chile, which confirms its rank as the Southern Hemisphere’s premier participant (365 entries). Since 2006, the Concours Mondial de Bruxelles has been on tour and has visited Europe’s prime producer regions, travelling from Lisbon to Maastricht, Bordeaux, Valencia, Palermo, Luxembourg, Guimarães and Bratislava. For its 20th anniversary, the competition returns to its native city, a highly symbolic choice.
The Concours Mondial de Bruxelles founder, Louis Havaux, says: “Celebrating our 20th anniversary in Brussels is a return to our roots. It’s marvellous, Brussels has so much to offer. I think everyone is delighted to be able to relive the early days of a competition which over the years has become a kind of huge social club with 350 members! It shows how much wine brings different nationalities together – instant friendship emerges when people are gathered around a bottle of wine.”
A group of friends serving consumer interests for 20 years, as the current competition chairman, Baudouin Havaux, stresses: “The aim of the Concours Mondial de Bruxelles is to promote the culture and awareness of wine and to guide consumer choice. Consumers can be naturally reticent about selecting wines they are not familiar with – the competition’s task is therefore to help wine lovers broaden their culture and encourage them to discover new wines.”
No two Concours Mondial de Bruxelles are ever the same. Uncorking over 8,000 bottles from across the globe for 310 international judges over three days makes it a unique event. As a barometer for gauging the vitality of the sector, it provides a snapshot of the international wine and vine industry that is updated annually. It throws up new trends and confirms change. The Brussels event has thus already confirmed:
- The Concours Mondial is a reliable reflection of vintage variation and climate fluctuations: favourable growing conditions this year in some parts of the world are mirrored in entry figures. This is true for example of South Africa and Portugal, whose presence has increased. Conversely, a challenging year in Luxembourg and Switzerland has led to a decline in entries.
- France maintains its leadership with 2,428 entries: Bordeaux with 1,055 wines is still the most dynamic region followed by Languedoc-Roussillon (590);
- The Iberian Peninsula once again demonstrates its export performance: Spain continues to rank second with 1,615 wines entered: Rioja (336) and Castilla-y-León (319), closely followed by Catalonia (226) and La Mancha (188), whilst Portugal retains its 4th place with 965 entries (Douro-Porto: 240; Alentejo: 187; and Lisbon: 124).
- Italy has also shown strong growth and improved on its 3rd place with 1,153 wines entered (Sicily: 185; Veneto: 170; and Tuscany: 161, are the main participating regions).
- Average ABV in wines has plateaued at 13.13% after several years of constant increase (13.32% in 2013; 13.09% in 2006 and approximately 12.8% in 2000).
- Wine entries in the aggregate represent a global sales volume of 750 million bottles.
- Finally, the competition reflects a general market trend towards trading up: a third of wine entries have a price tag of €8.5 or more.
These are just some of the preliminary insights on 20th Concours Mondial de Bruxelles. Bottles have already been uncorked for three days of tastings. Results are scheduled to be declared on Monday, May 12, 2014.
Founded in 1994, the Concours Mondial de Bruxelles has since then achieved the status of a world wine tasting championship. The 8,000 plus wines competing from around the globe represent combined sales of several hundred million bottles. Since 2006, the Concours Mondial has decided to broaden its international scope and is organised outside Belgium. Lisbon, Maastricht, Bordeaux, Valencia, Palermo, Luxembourg, Guimarães and Bratislava have all provided a prestigious backdrop for the tastings. The trade-only judging panel at the Concours Mondial de Bruxelles gathers together 310 of the world’s foremost professional judges. It represents 51 nationalities and this diversity contributes to the uniqueness of the event. At the end of the competition, only those wines that have achieved the highest scores are eligible for the prestigious medals, providing consumers around the world with a reliable buying cue.