Fortified spirit: Spain has vintage year at International Wine Challenge 2015, racking up 683 medal awards
56 Gold medals awarded to Spanish wines at prestigious wine competition
- Total medal count of 683 for Spain, including 56 Gold, 235 Silver, 392 Bronze
- Spain received 102 more medals at this year’s competition compared with 2014
- Judges impressed across a range of traditional Spanish favourites, including sherry and Rioja
Spain, renowned for its rustic wines and traditional winemaking methods, received a phenomenal 683 medals at the 2015 International Wine Challenge, following an intensive two-week period of blind tasting in April.
After winning an extraordinary 683 medals – made up of 56 Gold, 235 Silver and 392 Bronze medals, Spain was fourth in the total medal count at the competition. Prosecco-proud Italy narrowly beat Spain for third place with a total of 699 medals. Second place was awarded to Australia (825 medals), the world’s fourth largest wine exporter, while France came first with an astonishing 1237 medals. However, Spain’s showing at the International Wine Challenge 2015 was particularly impressive, after the country picked up 102 more medals than last year.
- Pulling in a total of 96 medals, sherry proved one of the most effective weapons in Spain’s wine arsenal, after contributing 29 Gold medals to the overall total, and accounting for over half of the country’s total Gold medal count. Renowned sherry specialist, Emilio Lustau, proved a huge hit with the IWC’s expert judges, who awarded ten Gold medals to the producer. Based in Jerez de la Frontera in southwestern Spain, Emilio Lustau produces Sherries for a number of UK supermarkets including two Gold medal winners for Mark’s & Spencer, Marks & Spencer Very Rare Dry Oloroso NV and Dry Old Palo Cortado NV.
- World-renowned red wine region, Rioja, came second in Spain’s award table, with 11 Gold, 57 Silver and 90 Bronze medals. Among winners were some famous names from the world of wine. Family-owned Bodegas Domeco de Jaruata boasted three Gold and one Bronze medal, and Baron de Ley group – based in the Rioja Baja region – picked up two Gold, two Silver and two Bronze medals.
- Fewer than half of Spain’s award-winning wines were white. Of these 262 medals, 119 were still whites, 48 sparkling and 95 fortified. And between them, they won 41 Golds, 90 Silvers and 131 Bronzes.
- Galicia, Spain’s cool, green, north-western corner received 43 medals, predominantly for white wines. Wines created with the region’s aromatic Albariño grape performed very well, receiving five Golds, 15 Silvers and 23 Bronze medals. A little further along the coast, the Bogega Gorka Isagirre Winery located just east of Bilbao received two Silver medals for its Gorka Isagirre 2014 and Garena Tzakolina 2014 (created from Hondarrabi Zuri and Hondarrabi Zerratia grapes.
- Four Spanish Cavas received the top accolade of a Gold medal at this year’s challenge. Masia Vallformosa’s Rare 2013 Cava Vallformosa Clàssic Brut Rosat – a rosé made from the Monastrell grape – was the only sparkling rosé to claim gold. Pink cava has proved a popular alternative to rosé champagne in the UK in recent years, as exemplified by Morrison’s Signature Vintage rosé, which retails at £12.99 and claimed a Bronze medal.
- Spanish sparkling wine reflects the growing popularity of Spanish still wines – both white and red – with UK shoppers. 1 in 10 non-sparkling wines in supermarkets now comes from Spain, and over 36,000,000 litres was exported to the UK last year.
- Spanish wine fans in the UK will be pleased to see they can pick up an IWC Spanish medal winner at their local supermarket, with own-brand ranges receiving a flurry of awards for Spanish wines.
- Marks & Spencer took the crown for the most medals among UK supermarkets in the Spanish wine category with 23 medals (four Gold, six Silver and thirteen Bronze). Sainsbury’s took second place, with one Gold medal, four Silvers, and ten Bronzes. Tesco received 12 medals for its own-brand Spanish wine, with one Gold, four Silver and seven Bronze. Morrisons and Waitrose both received ten medals each for their Spanish wines. Morrisons came in fifth with a total of three awards (including a Gold for their Amontillado Sherry). Aldi’s surprise package was Ezquisite Collection Riax Baixas Albarino – available to buy for £5.99 – that was awarded a silver award by the judges.
- The IWC judges also unearthed some Spanish surprises during this year’s competition. Spain produced a rare Gold medal-winning vermouth, the Vermouth Guerra Reserve Rojo, a fortified red produced in Castilla y Leon, and made from the Mencia grape. Another curiosity, the sparkling red, Lobban Sparkling Shiraz NV, made by Scotswoman Pamela Geddes, also scooped a Bronze medal.
- Visit the IWC website for the full list of winners: http://www.internationalwinechallenge.com
Charles Metcalfe, Co-Chairman of the IWC commented:
“We are very impressed with Spain’s showing at this year’s International Wine Challenge. Sherries delighted as always, and we discovered some fantastic Riojas. There were some great Cavas. These Spanish sparklers continue to improve each year. Overall, a fantastic showing from a country steeped in winemaking heritage and quality, and producing some of the most exciting wines in Europe.”