Top Dogs: International Wine Challenge names its 2016 superstar winemakers
Winemakers of the year named at prestigious annual awards dinner
The 33rd International Wine Challenge celebrated the superstars of the global wine trade at its prestigious awards dinner at the Hilton Hotel, Park Lane in London, recognising the finest winemakers and most dedicated personalities in the industry.
- First of the winemakers of the year was Vincent Bartement from La Chablisienne, who was named IWC White Winemaker of the Year. Bartement demonstrated his consistency, back on top after receiving the prize back in 2014. La Chablisienne is regarded as one of France’s best co-operative wineries, with almost 300 winegrowers united in the creation of great Chablis, under Bartement’s careful watch.
- Aussie winemakers Chris Hatcher and Steven Frost from Wolf Blass shared the prize for IWC Red Winemaker of the Year. This marks a hat trick for Chief Winemaker, Hatcher, who has previously received the prize in 2008 and 2013.
- Laurent Fresnet from Champagne Henriot secured the IWC Sparkling Winemaker of the Year accolade for the second year running. As guardian of the Henriot house style, master blender Fresnet has breathed new life into the brand since his appointment as Cellar Master in 2006.
- Antonio Flores from González Byass took home the IWC Fortified Winemaker of the Year, ending the six-year reign of rival Manuel Lozano of Emilio Lustau. The world-renowned cellar master Flores has been perfecting his craft for almost forty years. He joined the company back in 1980, having followed in the footsteps of his father. Flores has continued the family tradition of creating award-winning sherries for Gonzáles Byass. This win completes an outstanding year for the company: its Cuatro Palmas Amontillado won the Champion Fortified Wine Award.
- The IWC Sweet Winemaker of the Year prize went to Austrian winemaker Hermann Fink of Weingut Hermann Fink. He won this year’s Champion Sweet wine, Weingut Hermann Fink Cuvèe Wrchnb TBA 2013, and this additional accolade is guaranteed to boost the global reputation of this small family-run vineyard.
- Charles Metcalfe, Co-Chairman of the IWC commented:
- “These winemakers of the year have demonstrated exceptional skill in consistently producing world-class wines. These awards are given to the winemakers whose wines have all performed well in this year’s IWC. Any less successful wine entered would have edged these winemakers out of that coveted top spot. These guys really know their craft. They are the champions.”
A life in wine
- The IWC Lifetime Achievement Award went to Argentinian producer José Alberto Zuccardi of Familia Zuccardi. Zuccardi’s family-run wine company produces some of the finest wines in the southern hemisphere and is a beacon of quality in Argentina. A dedicated champion of his native wine industry, he is currently president of the UVA (Unión Vitivinícola Argentina), a member of the board of COVIAR (the Corporación Vitivinícola Argentina) and of Wines of Argentina. Working alongside his children, he continues to direct the company his father created in the 1960s with energy, passion and distinction.
- The IWC Personality of the Year went to Master of Wine and Master of Sake Kenichi Ohashi. Ohashi is the only Japanese Master of Wine, a qualification he gained in 2015. He has been involved with the IEC Sake competition since the start, and his contribution to this year’s IWC Sake competition held in Hyogo was key to its undeniable success.
Charles Metcalfe continued:
“These two men have had a colossal impact on the wine industry in their native countries and far beyond. Zuccardi has been one of the champions of Argentine wine, having transformed his family-run vineyard into a global success story. Ohashi has been key in the success of the IWC Sake competition and has also spearheaded the growth of Sake throughout the world. On top of that, he qualified as a Master of Wine last year. The wine industry is better and brighter place because of the impact of these two very special people.”
Visit the IWC website for the full list of winners: http://www.internationalwinechallenge.com