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BT Wine Challenge pulls in best response

Call for entries closes early amid flood of submissions for awards' third edition.



ENTHUSIASM remains strong for the third edition of The Business Times Wine Challenge - CEOs' Choice: the event, organised in partnership with UBS, stopped accepting entries last week amid overwhelming response.

After a call for entries was made on June 25, 176 wines were quickly submitted, surpassing the cut-off limit of 150 wines, forcing the July 13 deadline to be brought forward. The number of submissions easily exceeded that of the last two years; last year, 130 wines were submitted for tasting by an expert panel of wine professionals and by a group of wine-enthusiast CEOs.

One reason for the bumper crop of submissions is the expanded scope of these annual awards. For the first time, the BT Wine Challenge has been thrown open to wines not yet available in Singapore, though they must already have a local representative.

New categories have also been added to reflect trends in the wine industry. Chief judge Lim Hwee Peng said that, for example, Grenache has been introduced as a class to reflect rising demand for this varietal in local and international markets.

Loyal industry support is yet another reason for the high number of submissions. Of the 31 distributors who submitted wines for judging this year, 20 had taken part last year, and 11 have been with the Wine Challenge since its 2013 debut; only 11 are first-timers.

Next week, an expert panel of wine professionals - chief judge Lim, in collaboration with Les Amis Group chief sommelier Timothy Goh and Le Bistrot du Sommelier Maximilien Fedkiw - will evaluate the 176 wines at Temasek Polytechnic's Temasek Culinary Academy. They will pick 50 finalists, from among which 20 will be short-listed as Judges' Picks. The panel of wine-loving CEOs will then taste the 20, to whittle down the list to 10, which will be named CEOs' Choice wines.

The unique feature of the BT Wine Challenge has always been the involvement of CEOs during the judging process. The CEOs' scores are combined with those of the expert panel to ensure that the Top 10 CEOs' Choice wines not only display technical excellence, but also reflect the palette of sophisticated drinkers.

Spicing up this year's BT Wine Challenge are new awards to recognise exceptional performers. The top contemporary wines and top classic wines from among the 50 finalists will be recognised. Among the Judges' Picks, four awards will be given out for exceptional whites and reds made in and outside Europe; and among the CEOs' Choice winners, a UBS Trophy will go to a top contemporary wine and a top classic wine.

The winners will be honoured at an awards night to be held in October.