Representatives of the UK’s vine growers and producers gathered in London on 29th July at the Vintners’ Hall to celebrate the industry’s annual national wine awards – The English & Welsh Wine of the Year Competition. The medals and trophies were presented to the winners which had been announced at the end of June and the last two most prestigious trophies, Winemaker of the Year and Wine of the Year were announced at the lunch.
The Winemaker of the Year (The McAlpine Winemaker of the Year Trophy) went to Piers Greenwood, winemaker and owner of New Hall Vineyard in Essex. New Hall is one of England’s longest-established vineyards, and produces wines that consistently win prizes. Additionally, Piers makes wines under contract for a number of other vineyards, including some of the trophy and medal-winning wines in this year’s competition.
The Wine of the Year (also known as the Gore-Browne Trophy) was awarded to Albourne Estate Bacchus 2014. Albourne Estate is a relative newcomer to the English wine scene, based in Sussex, and owned by Alison Nightingale. The winemaking team includes award-winning winemaker David Cowderoy.
The event also gave cause to celebrate a record-breaking number of entries – and awards – gained in this year’s competition, reflecting not only the ongoing growth in the number of wines now being produced, but their consistent quality. 327 wines were entered from 93 vineyards. In total, 284 won an award, including 19 Gold, 124 Silver and 141 Bronzes, with winners including both new entrants to other, longer-established producers reinforcing their consistent award-winning credentials.
This year it was the still wines rather than the sparkling, many from the 2014 vintage, which proved to be the winners, scooping over half the Gold medals and 10 of the Trophies. The competition is an opportunity for producers across the industry to enter all styles of still and sparkling wine now produced in the UK. The wines were judged by a team of six Masters of Wine and marked to international standards. England’s signature grape variety for still wines, Bacchus, proved to be a clear winner, scooping 6 of the trophies and 8 of the 19 Gold medals. Chairman of Judges, Anthony Foster said: “We must be truly proud of this variety which should be listed in every good restaurant in the land just as Marlborough Sauvignon is!”
Reported by Joanna Wood.