The best of the best: International Wine Challenge reveals its 2018 leading wines – and winemakers
The International Wine Challenge (IWC) today announces some of its most hotly anticipated results for 2018 – the Champion wines, and Champion winemakers– from across the globe.
- The Daniel Thibault Trophy for Champion Sparkling Wine 2018 went to Moët & Chandon MCIII. Judges described this Champagne from the classic French producer as a starry wine with an intense nut and brioche bouquet.
- In the most competitive category of all, the IWC’s Champion Red Wine 2018 was awarded to another French producer with Maison Albert Bichot, Mazis-Chambertin Grand Cru Cuvée Madeleine Collignon, 2016. Judges were impressed by its rich, sensual nose of raspberry and wild strawberries with an earthy kick and terrific finish.
- To the whites and from thousands of entries the IWC Champion White Wine 2018 award went to Weingut Allram, Riesling Gaisberg 1.ÖTW 2016. The judges found this Austrian wine had an attractive nose of lychee, apple blossom and dried pineapple with a fresh and lovely chalky grip.
- The Riesling grape provided a win for Germany as the Alois Kracher Trophy for Champion Sweet Wine 2018 went to Weingut Reiss, Randersackerer Pfülben Riesling BA 2016. Both medals are a step forward for the growing popularity of this complex and highly distinctive white wine.
- The Manuel Lozano Trophy for Champion Fortified Wine 2018 and the overall winner was Justino’s Madeira Terrantez 50 Years Old. This Portuguese wine is intense, with a complex nose and palate. The IWC judges picked up toffee, dried apricot, fig and hints of coconut. It’s a wine that’s ripe and sweet but still savoury and juicy with almost a dry, clean, long finish.
- This year’s Champion of Champions 2018 has been awarded to Piper-Heidsieck Rare 2002. This is a limited release, flagship wine from Piper-Heidsieck. The 2002 is reputed to be their finest vintage since 1996, a blend of 70% Chardonnay, with 30% Pinot Noir from 8 crus matured for over 8 years in the House cellars. This award goes to any past or current Champion wine re-entered this year and awarded a Trophy, qualifying it to be re-tasted by the International Wine Challenge Co-Chairmen who select their Champion of Champions.
There was also much excitement as the IWC revealed its Winemakers of the year.
- Leading the pack for Britain was Cherie Spriggs for Nyetimber who won the IWC Sparkling Winemaker of the Year 2018. This is in fact the first time that a winemaker outside of the Champagne region has won the sparkling winemaker award – a huge achievement for Cherie and her team.
- The IWC Red Winemaker of the Year 2018 went to Hervé J. Fabre from Bodegas Fabre. Bodegas Fabre has had an outstanding year in 2018, with all of its entries being awarded a medal – including one Trophy, four Golds, eleven Silver and seven Bronze medals for their red wines. Hervé J. Fabre was born in Bordeaux and arrived in Argentina in the early 1990s when Malbec was viewed as little more than a blending partner. Since then he’s been championing Malbec both in Argentina and on the global stage, helping position it as the number one choice for many red wine fans.
- Didier Séguier from William Fèvre won the IWC White Winemaker of the Year 2018. In a remarkable feat of class, every wine that William Fèvre entered into the IWC 2018 was awarded a medal. In total they received seven Golds, 10 Silvers and eight Bronzes.
- The IWC Fortified Winemaker of the Year 2018 has been revealed as Sergio Martínez from Emilio Lustau (who also won this category in 2017). This year was an outstanding year for Emilio Lustau with Sergio at the helm. Lustau Sherries were awarded one Trophy, 19 Gold medals, 19 Silvers and five Bronzes.
- The IWC Sweet Winemaker of the Year 2018 award has gone to Helmut Lang from Weingut Helmut Lang, the first time that Helmut Lang has won the Sweet Winemaker of the Year award. This Austrian vineyard was awarded one Trophy, two Golds, eight Silver and five Bronze Medals.
- The IWC Personality of the Year 2018 was awarded to Rosa Kruger, recognising her role and voice in launching a new wave of South African wine. Rosa started her viticultural career as a farm manager in the vineyards of the Western Cape. For the last 20 years she has designed new vineyards and planted, tended and grown vines for an array of quality wines in South Africa. She’s trained many in the skill of growing a vine and more recently has helped in listing historic old vines in South Africa.
- And finally, the IWC Lifetime Achievement Award 2018 went to Bob Lindo, winemaker at Camel Valley in Cornwall. Ex-RAF pilot Bob and his wife Annie first planted their vines in Cornish soil back in 1989. Camel Valley has since gone from strength to strength – and has just become the first English wine producer to be granted a Royal Warrant.
- Other awards and accolades were handed out over the dinner – including The Len Evans Trophy which rewards excellence and consistency in the IWC over a period of five years. This year the worthy winner was Champagne Henriot. Over the last five years every single one of the wines Champagne Henriot has entered has won an award, with 97% receiving a Medal.
- Meanwhile the James Rogers Trophy 2018 for the best wine in its first year of production went to DR Port L70 from Agri-Roncão Vinícola. Judges described this wine as just so complex and complete, with incredible length – quite an accolade for such a young wine producer, and definitely one to watch.
- Wines that have been impressing the industry for their methods of production were also recognised. The IWC Sustainable Trophy 2018 went to Hawkesbury Estates, Akitu A1 Black Label 2016. Hawkesbury Estates have been part of the New Zealand Wine Growers sustainable winemaking programme for 12 years. This promotes an array of sustainable production techniques – from water use to spray programmes. Hawkesbury Estates use an organic-based fungicide and don’t use any fertilisers. This winning wine stood out for judges as a vibrant, youthful wine with all to play for.
- The IWC Organic Trophy 2018 was won by Domaine Christian Moreau, Chablis Grand Cru Les Clos, 2016. Judges described this as a benchmark Grand Cru Chablis, with haunting aromas of kelp and seashore. Very fine and poised on the palate, with delicate oak, finely toasty notes, and a long, dry, chalky and mineral finish.
- To the IWC Fairtrade Award 2018 and a worthy win for Stellenrust, Old Bush Vine Chenin Blanc, 2016. The judges said this was a really beautiful example of modern Chenin Blanc. Balanced intensity of flavour yet subtlety and finesse which captivates.
- Stefano Lubiana Wines, Ruscello Pinot Noir, 2016 stood out to win the IWC Biodynamic Trophy 2018. This is an understated, fragrant and polished Pinot, reflecting its cool climate heritage. Further tasting notes revealed it to be very youthful with complexity to develop but imbued with vibrant juicy red fruit coupled with hints of chocolate and supported by firm but generous structure.
Charles Metcalfe, Co-Chairman of the IWC, commented:
“This has been yet another exemplary year with a huge buzz and a lot of interest surrounding not only an impressive array of wines but a stable of innovative and passionate winemakers too. I speak for all of us at the IWC when I say that we are proud to be part of such an exciting industry – and we certainly wish to extend our congratulations to all the winners.”