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New grass-roots competitions

For the past two years, the Confrérie Saint-Cunibert, an association which supports Moselle wines, has awarded prizes to Luxembourg’s finest Rivaner wines through its very own competition entitled Rivaner Uncorked. This year, it was the turn of the Lucilivines, a club for female wine enthusiasts, to award a medal for its favourite Luxembourgian rosé. Such initiatives mark the emergence of a real trend.

Prestigious competitions such as the Vinalies Internationales, Berliner Wine Trophy, Concours Général Agricole, Decanter World Wine Awards and Meiniger Award are all unwieldy machines that involve hundreds of tasters (mostly professionals) testing thousands of wines from around the world.

This internationalised approach to awarding medals has its pros and cons. On one hand, it provides guidance to consumers, who may legitimately feel lost faced with such a huge choice. However, the world of competitions is not a level playing field. Some dole out boatloads of prizes, thus generating huge profits, since producers invariably have to pay for the stickers on their award-winning bottles.

Based on the premise that if you don’t look after yourself, no one else will, two new 100% Luxembourgian competitions have recently been set up. The first chronologically is Rivaner Uncorked, which was dreamed up by the Confrérie Saint-Cunibert last year. It aims to restore the Rivaner grape variety to its former glory, having somewhat unjustly lost some of its prestige.

“Although winegrowers are clearing many Rivaner vines from their land, they are important to Luxembourg as they remain by far the country’s most common grape variety,” explains André Mehlen, wine inspector at the Luxembourg Wine Institute and leading figure in the Confrérie holding the title of Grand Drossart. Although less valued than Riesling or Pinot Grigio, Rivaner grapes are still by no means worthless. “Although Rivaner wines clearly lack the power and depth of some of the more prestigious grape varieties, they offer some very pleasant aromas if well made. Rivaner wines are quintessential easy-drinking wines best enjoyed outdoors or with a seafood platter,” he advises.

It occurred to us that while Luxembourgian rosés are much less well known, they might also be very good

This summer, the Lucilivines came on board. Based on the same principle of a blind tasting among its members conducted at the Wine Institute in Remich, the association awarded a sticker to what it considered to be Luxembourg’s best rosé. “We sent an invitation to wine-growers who submitted 18 wines,” explains Tess Burton, association chair and also member of the Luxembourg Chamber of Deputies and chair of the Agriculture and Wine-growing Committee at the Chamber.

“Early in the year, we went on a field trip to Provence where we tried a lot of rosés,” says Tess Burton. “It occurred to us that while Luxembourgian rosés are much less well known, they might also be very good, which led to the idea of a competition. And finally, it made a lot of sense for women to choose the best rosé themselves as they often enjoy this grape variety!”

It is clear that the approach taken by the Confrérie Saint-Cunibert and the Lucilivines is very different to that taken by the major international competitions. Here, wine enthusiasts are the judges. The pleasure of drinking a nice bottle of wine is given priority over more technical aspects. Moreover, it’s not about the money, since the sole aim of these two competitions is to promote Luxembourgian wine rather than to generate large profits. This is no small difference.

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