After an incredibly high standard from 10,000 wine fans, eleven people contested the final at The Cadogan Hotel on Sloane Street, London for The Palate 2013 trophy

The Palate Final

In June, hot on the heels of last year’s competition, we launched our second search for the UK’s finest amateur wine taster: The Palate 2013. Almost 10,000 contestants entered, that’s twice as many as the year before, and we think the standard had doubled as well. Over three gruelling rounds of blind tastings in our shops and at the Three Wine Men event in Edinburgh, we pared the stiff competition back to just the elite eleven:

Agnes Van
Alistair Osborne
Charlotte Cobb
Chloe Dickson
Jane Wiseman
Janet Doherty
John Trevaskis
Laura Martz
Lesley Cunningham
Tim Andrews
Veronika Orekhovkaia

On Saturday 7 September we invited these budding tasters to bring their talented taste buds to The Cadogan Hotel on Sloane Street, London, to face their toughest challenge yet. Hailing from all over the country, from all manner of professions and from all walks of life, our finalists had two things in common; the first was a phenomenal amount of raw talent and the second was a burning desire to bag that luxury holiday for two to Australia and New Zealand courtesy of Robert Oatley Vineyards and Giesen Wine.

To put them to the test we enlisted the expertise of Saturday Kitchen regulars and wine’s power couple: Susie Barrie MW and Peter Richards MW. The finalists were split into two groups and, with Susie coaching one and Peter teaching the other, they faced a wine tasting boot camp, in which they were put through their paces using Nez du Vin aroma kits, jelly beans, blindfolds and of course lots of wine. They then put their new skills into action with a food and wine matching taste off. Each contestant had to blind taste three wines with either chocolate, smoked salmon or cheese, and then deliver a 60-second presentation to our Masters of Wine on which wine they would pair with their chosen food and why. Susie and Peter then selected the best six answers to determine who would proceed to the Grand Final. They were Alistair Osborne, Chloe Dickson, Jane Wiseman, Janet Doherty, Lesley Cunningham and Tim Andrews.

In the Grand Final the remaining six faced an exam condition blind tasting of six wines and were asked to identify vintages, grape varieties, country of origin, flavours, aromas, estimated retail price and potential food matches. After much difficult deliberation and cogitation behind locked doors, Oddbins’ Wine Buyer Ana Sapungiu, Susie and Peter unanimously chose the winner to be a Music Publishing Executive from Highbury in London: Chloe Dickson. Stunned, Chloe said “Words cannot describe how excited, elated and humbled I am to be the 2013 winner of The Palate. I have been an unpaid wine scribbler and enthusiast for a few years, but I never thought I would win The Palate.”

Due to the sheer quality of the competition, two runners up, Janet Doherty and Tim Andrews, were awarded £300 of Oddbins vouchers each. They will certainly be a force to be reckoned with in next year’s competition.

Despite being “gutted” that the winner had come from Susie’s side of the boot camp for the second year in a row, Peter Richards described Chloe’s victory as “A great culmination to this year’s competition – intense but also really enjoyable, with some great contestants, real tension, lots of laughs and, in the end, a very worthy winner. Now that’s what I call great consumer engagement!”

As well as being crowned The Palate 2013 and winning that luxury holiday for two to Australia and New Zealand, Chloe Dickson was also presented with a magnum of Canard-Duchene Champagne, a crystal decanter engraved with The Palate logo and a bouquet of flowers by Hugo Campbell, Director of wine importer Ehrmanns Wine.

But Chloe’s story didn’t end there; she was to face one more task. We gave her four concealed wines and asked her to answer the question “if you were an Oddbins Wine Buyer, which of these wines would you stock in our shops?” The wine that Chloe chose was the Manz Platónico, a red blend from Alentejo in Portugal. She said that “It’s perfect for the wintry festive period, when you need something rich, hearty, jammy and souly [Chloe admitted to making this last word up entirely, but we think we know what she means!]. When I drank it I could just imagine sitting next to a crackling fire, slippers on, snow falling outside and a roast in the oven. This wine has it all, it works brilliantly.” It will arrive into our shops before Christmas, so then you can find out what victory tastes like! Judging by how popular our Portuguese range already is and how much you appreciated la Closerie des Lys Chardonnay chosen by Fran Evans, The Palate 2012, we think the Manz Platónico will be right up you alley.

We hope that you will be inspired to put your palate to the test by joining us back here next summer for The Palate 2014, when the competition will return bigger and better than before. Thank you from Oddbins to all of those who took part in The Palate 2013.


Results of Earlier Rounds

The Palate 2013 kicked off in spectacular style at the beginning of June, with 8,136 contestants turning out for our first blind tasting (that’s over 3,000 more than last year), and you guys were on dazzling form. Read more

Oddbins - The Palate 2013 - The Prizes

The Prizes...

Once again, the prizes up for grabs were mind-bendingly decadent. So, as well as hundreds of bottles of wine, we were also giving away:

  • A ten day luxury wine holiday for two in Australia and New Zealand, courtesy of Robert Oatley and Giesen Wines Read More
  • Wine Tasting Boot Camp with BBC Saturday Kitchen's, Susie Barrie MW and Peter Richards MW
  • The opportunity to choose a wine for Oddbins’ shelves
  • The prestigious title of “The Palate 2013”

The Palate 2014 - Ready those taste buds and join the fun

The Palate is returning in the summer of 2014, bigger and better than ever before. For more information on how to get involved, click here.

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