20th anniversary competition – results

Two winners and a runner-up announced below, on what we thought was the most appropriate date.

What a thoughtful and inventive set of suggestions we received as to how to celebrate our 20th birthday this year, requested last month via these details of a competition. A couple of them were so stimulating that we have decided to award two first prizes of five years’ membership of our Purple Pages and one runner-up, all three of them to receive a copy of The Quality Chop House cookbook mailed to them today.

We had 42 entries from all over the world, some of them including multiple suggestions, two of them incorporating as many as 20 each. Proposals included a global torch journey, tastings of wines from the 2000 vintage, tastings of 20-year-old tawnies, tastings of 20 top wines with different members of the team around the world, a selection of wines to match 20 different shades of purple (with suggestions), revisiting notable obituaries, articles about how things have changed in the last 20 years, a book telling the inside stories of our work on JancisRobinson.com, and even, from a medical man on Vancouver Island, an increased dose of milk thistle.

We will do our best to act on as many of these suggestions as possible over the year, while bearing in mind this sobering advice from Randy Watson of Indianapolis: ‘My experience has been that most, not all, don’t care that you’ve been in business since 1908 but [want to know] are you relevant to me today. Don’t take it personal, it isn’t my opinion, just the research.’

The greatest number of suggestions came from the UK and some tended to be rather UK-centric, whereas we are hoping to celebrate in a more international way than having an event exclusively for those living in Britain.

We hope to keep adding features relevant to our anniversary during 2020 but it does look as though we should aim for one big event that is live-streamed around the world and could be followed by wine lovers wherever they are.

One entry won the approval of the key members of the team based here in the UK who are most likely to be involved in any organised event, so we would like to nominate Steve Connnolly of Liverpool as one of our two overall winners. He will receive five years’ complimentary membership of our Purple Pages and a copy of the book for this suggestion:  

I think that climate change should figure in the celebrations as this is such a huge issue for the whole world. Vineyards are a harbinger of this change, and wine production and transport is a contributor to the problem. While I think we are beyond the need for raising awareness of climate change, I think we are at the beginning of the wine industry adopting radical action for change.

An influential leader, such as Jancis, advocating for and promoting such action could accelerate the pace of change.

I suggest, something along the lines of the Purple Pages team selecting a number (maybe 20 to denote the anniversary, or 12 for a case) of their top carbon-neutral or carbon-negative wines. These could be celebrated at an event to honour the wineries involved and also via a live streamed tasting/webinar to allow non-UK/non-London members to take part. It would be ideal if the wines could be purchased from a single source, but I appreciate the complexities of that arrangement.

Yes, Steve’s suggestion does involve an event in the UK, but we all feel it is (a) achievable and (b) could have a positive effect on the wine world. We will definitely stream it as is happens and have it available for anyone to revisit. We may also add other aspects to it. We will start to plan this event, which is likely to take place on the exact 20th anniversary of the start of JancisRobinson.com (see Site history) on Sunday 1 November 2020 – All Saints Day, as fellow competitor Zofia Bakowska pointed out. Anyone should feel free to nominate carbon-neutral or carbon-negative wine producers via the Contact link below.

Andrew McKinna, who commutes between Bermuda, Bergerac and London, produced the following list of 20 suggestions we felt were both intriguing and inspiring, so we are happy to make him joint winner, also being awarded a book and five complimentary years’ membership of Purple Pages.

  1. A list of the highest-scoring wines tasted that cost £20 or less at the time (with their tasting notes at the time and, for fun, current prices, if available.)
  2. A tasting event of wines from 2000 (see also 12 below). Perhaps a dinner, with one member of Team JR on each table of 20 perhaps?
  3. A paulée – with a combination of wines in 1 above and other bottles from the 2000 vintage contributed for sharing by those attending.
  4. Twenty Throwback Thursdays – a personal selection by Jancis of some of the standout articles contributed by other members of the team (including former members, such as the much-missed Andrea Frost).
  5. Then and now – a comparative table of world wine production in 2000 and today (with the help of the World Atlas of Wine) showing how new countries have emerged (and others perhaps have faded).
  6. Twenty varieties that deserve wider recognition – with examples of producers doing them justice.
  7. Twenty new topics for the 2020 forum – including a 20-word tasting note on what you enjoyed drinking the day before – to kick-start a plethora of new threads.
  8. Twenty critical developments since 2000 in the world of wine…
  9. …and 20 predictions for the next 20 years in the world of wine.
  10. Twenty suggestions for reducing any negative environmental impact of the wine industry over the next 20 years.
  11. Nick’s 20 most special moments in a restaurant since 2000.
  12. £20,000 to support one or more grant or bursary or study trip for a WSET student – to be funded by 2 above and/or an online silent auction of wine-related ‘money can’t buy’ experiences.
  13. A version of the panel game Twenty Questions – perhaps as a webcast or podcast – with celebrities from the world of wine (and/or a version of Len Evans’s Options Game). One way to set this up as an idea for a fun and perhaps fund-raising evening would be for Team JR to be recorded playing it, and then offer a video for download (with list of any wines required – obviously readily available worldwide). The host could then pause the button each time before the solution was revealed by Jancis, allowing each group of friends to try to work out the right answer first.
  14. A limited edition Unbound (or e-book) collection of essays by each member of Team JR – perhaps picking up 8, 9 and 10 above? Priced to add to the pot for 12 and/or available to be signed at 2 and 3 above? Tentatively to be called Purple Pages?
  15. A silly game (with a serious purpose) involving a challenge to all Purple Pagers to find and list 20 entries in the Oxford Companion to Wine online that include the number ‘20’ or the word ‘twenty’ by a specified deadline.
  16. A major motion picture, to be called (tentatively) The Color Purple… Oops – that’s already been done! (Then again, there are not many original ideas in my list… someone, somewhere always seems to have thought of it long before I did. And Hollywood does love a remake.)
  17. Another silly game – or idea for a thread in 7 above – might be to ask for suggestions of wines with a long finish (a nod to the late Michael Dibdin) that, 20 seconds after the last drop, you can still taste.
  18. As a trick – sorry, technique – to stimulate activity on the website in the build-up to some of the more serious and/or important ideas above, how about a 20-question quiz, over 20 days so one question each day, with the answer the following day (or not, to avoid discouraging participants who get the first two or three wrong). The first person to get the right answer each day wins a point and the person with the most points at the end wins a place at 2 above. The questions should perhaps be posted as dawn breaks in a succession of time zones, to offer an equal opportunity to Purple Pagers around the world?
  19. Either as part of this quiz, or as a separate exercise, how about posting tasting notes from past wines of the week’ and inviting Purple Pagers to identify the wines? This might help – like 15 above – to stimulate exploration of the darker corners of the archive.
  20. An April Fool fun story asking for 20 volunteers to meet Tim Peake to explain why they should be selected to work on the first vineyard in space. And if you think that’s stretching the bounds of probability, I remember an exhibit at the Chelsea Flower Show a few years ago demonstrating the range of experiments astronauts on the space station planned to carry out regarding what might grow.

Tim Hall of Scala Wine made a quite similar, if perhaps slightly less workable, suggestion to Steve Connolly’s entry and we will also send him, as runner-up, a copy of the book.

Several entries suggested that we reward those who have been members of our Purple Pages for longest. A fine suggestion. In the next few weeks we will be contacting the individuals who saw the light and were early adopters of Purple Pages.

We thank everyone who took part in our competition. We are all considerably wiser now about how you all feel about wine and this website, and we hope to continue to improve the quality of what we share, how we operate, and to be even more useful and entertaining in 2020.

2020 fireworks