Off the beaten track: Highlights of medals at the International Wine Challenge 2018 from emerging regions
Under embargo until 11am – 10/05/18
As the results of the International Wine Challenge 2018 are revealed, there are exciting wins from a number of emerging countries and regions which could spell a changing tide for the world’s wine industry.
The Balkans and Eastern Europe
Georgia has many indigenous grapes to choose from and can be rightly proud of its achievement this year. The former Soviet Union state secured five Gold medals – for two reds, one white, and two amber wines. Within this were two impressively high scorers: JSC Teliani Valley Glekhuri Kisi 2015 and Makashvili Wine Cellar Mtsvane 2016 – both amber wines, both scoring a distinguished 96 points.
Amber wine, or orange wine as it’s also known, is a white wine made in a similar way to a red by fermenting the juice on the skins. This gives it a more full-bodied, tannic character, and an amber hue from pale gold to deep bronze, depending on how long the grape skins stay in contact with the juice; this can be days or months.
Croatia meanwhile has won two Golds – both for white wine entries from producer Damjanic Wines in Istria, an exciting region some are calling the ‘new Tuscany’. Its Gold medal winners, Clemente Blanc 2015 and Malvazija 2016 attained 95 points each.
Greek producer Kechris Winery was awarded one Gold medal for its white wine, Tear Of The Pine Retsina Appelation by Tradition 2017.
In its inaugural year at the awards, Azerbaijan won a silver with a still white, the Aspi Aqro Savalan Elisa Winemaker Reserve 2016. Armenia’s success came from the Armenia Wine Company Armenia Red Dry 2017 which received a Silver medal.
To the Middle East and a nod to the Lebanese who have been producing wine since 7,000BC. At IWC 2018, Lebanese producer Domaine des Tourelles scored Gold with its Domaine des Tourelles Red 2014 from the Bekaa Valley, which is home to the major wine producers of Lebanon.
Central and East Asia
Arba Wine from the Almaty region in Kazakhstan won two Silvers this year. Its Silver success was for both a red wine entry, Kyzyl Bastau 2014, and a white wine, Sary Arba Rkatsiteli 2014.
As Chinese wine production continues apace, it is certainly evolving ambitiously. While the industry develops, there are producers who are starting to make their mark. China won a total of 12 Silver medals including its top scoring Qingyu Chateau, Qingyu Wangfu Year Of Dog Cabernet Sauvignon & Merlot 2014.
Meanwhile in Japan, having previously won Gold medals for its white wines, this year Japan won a total of 11 Silvers and – for the first time – a Gold for a red wine, Suntory Wine International, Tomi No Oka Winery – Tomi Red 2013.
Oz Clarke, Co-Chair of the IWC commented:
“One of the joys of being at the helm of such a unique and prestigious event is the fact that we discover wines from all over the world, each judged equally against their peers. The blind tastings are undertaken in the most scrupulous conditions and we’re also privileged to attract a group of hugely talented and experienced judges. So, when lesser-known regions and producers do well it is wonderful that the IWC have the opportunity to endorse their commitment, hard work and credibility.
We feel that the industry as a whole is experiencing great change, particularly as we watch with interest the ‘new worlds’ of the new world. Underpinning this change are a number of dedicated producers, re-discovering old techniques as well as promoting new ones. The result is a collection of great wines with increasing character and integrity. Here at the IWC we are thrilled to support that.”