Q&A with Tim Atkim MW
Tim is sharing his insight about the competition and tell us why he loves the wine from the south of France
The impact of the economy is on everyone’s lips. How does the rising rate of inflation affect the wine market and the popularity of wines from Sud de France?
I think many people are looking for three main things at the moment: value for money, obviously, to make their pounds go further, but also wines with a sense of place and that offer something different.
Sud de France wines deliver in all three respects. It was great to see an increase in the number of wines that retail over £20 – proof that the region can produce fine wines as well as more everyday fare – but even here, the wines often overdeliver. There’s never
been a better time to explore what this vast, engagingly diverse region has to offer.
What have you and the judges noticed about the quality of wine entries and winners this year, compared with previous competition years?
Some of the judges have been with the Top 100 competition from the start, so they knew what to expect to a degree. But the newcomers all told me how impressed they were by the
quality of the wines, as well as the tremendous diversity on offer. As my friend Matthew Stubbs MW put it recently in his Languedoc-Roussillon 2023 Special Report on timatkin.com, the area can make “every style of wine”.
In terms of changes, it was good to see that among the whites, there are varietal wines made from Albarino and Terret, as well as more widely planted grapes like Chardonnay, Picpoul and Sauvignon Blanc. I also enjoyed the blended whites more than ever this year, with bright, mineral-edged varieties such as Vermentino, Grenache Blanc and Grenache Gris, all of which are well suited to our warming world, making a welcome appearance. If anything, the reds were even more impressive. If it’s variety you’re after, we chose varietal expressions of Carignan, Duras, Fer Servadou, Grenache, Malbec, Syrah and Tannat, as well as a host of both Mediterranean and “Bordeaux style” blends. It’s truly a selection that I am proud of.
Time is always precious. What are the main benefits to visiting producers and UK trade in meeting up face to face?
The best way to understand a region, not just the Sud de France, is to go there. Nothing beats tasting a wine in situ, surrounded by the landscape that produced it. And what a series of painterly landscapes these beautiful regions have to offer! But the second best
option it to talk to the person who farms the vineyards and makes the wine. The Sud de France is so diverse that a chat with a producer can deepen your appreciation
of his or her wines. What was the vintage like? The varieties? What about the soil types? How old are the vines? The another attraction is- that producers will be showcasing
other wines from their ranges, not just the Top 100 winners.
In terms of the wines to taste at the Top 100 Discovery Show on October 26, what do you think they will offer visitors this year and why is it such a landmark tasting in the wine calendar?
The best thing about the tasting – and I would say this, of course – is that it’s a curated selection, so a team of professional tasters has done a lot of the groundwork for you. These are a seriously smart group of wines, all of which offer outstanding value for money. The range of styles makes this an enjoyable tasting, as you will very rarely be tasting similar wines side by side. The Sud de France is making the best wines in its history and, at the risk of repeating myself, the diversity is amazing.