The annual English & Welsh Wine of the Year Competition has released its results, revealing still wines – and the grape variety Bacchus in particular – as a winning force alongside an ever growing list of producers of top quality sparkling wines.
From the 263 entries, 14 Gold, 88 Silver and 113 Bronze medals were awarded to new producers and regular award winners alike, recognising the consistent quality of wines in this expanding industry. The average number of entries has grown over the years, with this year numbering the second highest after the bumper line up of last year.
Only Masters of Wine judge in this competition, bringing with them their wealth of experience, expertise and tasting to international standards. The judges this year were Susan McCraith MW (Chairman), Patricia Stefanowicz MW, Maggie McNie MW, David Bird MW, Anthony Foster MW and Sally Easton MW.
Commenting on the competition, Chairman of Judges Susan McCraith MW said: “The results this year endorse the world class quality of our sparkling wines. Sparkling rose, where the trend seems to be for very pale colours, is catching up with white sparkling and is right on trend for the UK market. On the still wine front, once again Bacchus confirms itself as a signature grape variety for English and Welsh wines, capable of showing real concentration and finesse. Look out Loire and New Zealand, English Bacchus is on its way!”
No fewer than five of the main Trophies were awarded to Bacchus wines and five of the 14 of Gold medals. Chapel Down Bacchus Reserve 2010 gained The Wine Guild Trophy (Most outstanding large production vintage earlier than 2011) and The Tom Day Trophy (Most outstanding single varietal wine); Camel Valley Bacchus 2011 won The English Wine Producers Dudley Quirk Memorial Trophy (Best Large Production); New Hall Bacchus 2011 gained the Berwick Trophy (Best unchaptalised wine) andFurleigh Estate Bacchus Fumé 2010 took the McNie Trophy (Most outstanding oaked white wine).
Sparkling wines performed impressively, with a wider number of different and first time entries gaining medals, including new entry in this category Furleigh Estate Classic Cuvée 2009 which scooped The Vintners’ Trophy (Most outstanding sparkling wine).
Camel Valley Pinot Noir Rosé Brut 2010 continued its run of competition success with the trophy for Most Outstanding Sparkling Rosé wine.
A still rosé from Sharpham Vineyard in Devon – ‘Whole Berry’ Rosé 2011 – scooped two awards: The Waitrose Rosé Trophy (most outstanding still rosé) and The Jack Ward Memorial Salver (most outstanding large production from 2011).
In the red category, once again it was a Pinot Noir that dominated the field – the trophy being awarded this year to Biddenden Vineyards Pinot Noir 2011.
The albeit small late harvest/sweet wine category showed its credentials by winning not only the Most Outstanding Sweet Wine trophy (The Stefanowicz Trophy) but also the President’s Trophy for Best Small Production – both trophies were awarded to Denbies Estate Noble Harvest 2011.
A trophy for packaging and design, the Montagu Trophy for best presented wine, is awarded each year in recognition of this important area of wine marketing. Since last year, this award has been sponsored by Avery Dennison, Nightingale Austen Design and AJS Labels who between them have offered an impressive selection of prizes to the top three winners. The overall winner this year is Knightor Trevannion 2011 from Cornwall.
The overall top awards in this year’s annual competition: McAlpine Winemaker of The Year Trophy and Gore-Browne Trophy (The Wine of the Year) will not be announced until the industry’s awards lunch, taking place on Friday 13th July in London.
This year the trophies and awards will be presented by wine personality, broadcaster and journalist Olly Smith.
A new award will also be announced at the awards lunch: the English Wine Producers Communicator of the Year Award. The winner of this award will be selected from nominations put forward by the industry, and presented to an individual or organisation in recognition of the significant contribution they have made to the UK wine industry; through communication, innovation, or even administration.
Summing up after the competition, Susan McCraith added: “This has been a great year for English wines; they’ve earned wide media coverage, including an appearance on BBC’s The Apprentice, and of course the Diamond Jubilee and hopefully now the Olympics. Our wines are becoming renowned the world over. The industry can be justifiably proud of its many achievements.”