Sweet Sixteen: English winemakers triumph at International Wine Challenge 2017, receiving a record-breaking 16 gold medals
English winemakers excelled at the International Wine Challenge 2017, being awarded an outstanding 108 medals by the panel of expert judges. In a record year of success for homegrown talent, the IWC judges awarded 16 Gold medals to wines produced in England, as well 39 Silver and 53 Bronze medals.
- Sparkling English wines led the charge in the 2017 competition, with bubbles from Hampshire, Sussex, Kent, Surrey and Dorset all soaring to success. Hampshire was this year’s most successful country, producing six of the 16 Gold medals. However, competition favourite Sussex was hot on its heels with five Gold medals going to its local producers.
- After picking up its first Gold medal in 2015, Hampshire-based Hambledon Vineyards continued to impress picking up a pair of Gold medals for its Hambledon Classic Cuvee Rose NV and its Classic Cuvée NV.
- A further four Gold medal-winning sparkling wines were produced in Hampshire, including the Classic Cuvée Brut NV by Cottonworth. Coates & Seely, a joint venture by friends Christian Seely and Nicholas Coates, received a Gold medal for its Blanc de Blancs ‘La Perfide’ 2009, and nearby Hattingley Valley Wines received a Gold for its Hattingley Valley Classic Reserve NV.
- Spanning both Hampshire and Sussex, competition favourite Nyetimber won two Gold medals across the two locations. Its Nyetimber Classic Cuvee Magnum 2009 grown in Hampshire struck Gold, while the Nyetimber Blanc de Blancs 2010 produced in its Sussex vineyards was also awarded a Gold medal.
- Further success went to wine grown in Sussex, with Bluebell Vineyard Estates receiving a Gold medal for its Hindleap Barrel Aged Blanc de Blancs 2013, and a Gold medal being awarded to Upperton Vineyards for its Alia 2013. No stranger to success at the IWC, Ridgeview Wine Estates collected a Gold for its Bloomsbury NV, while Wiston Estate Winery received a further Gold medal for Sussex with its Wiston Estate Brut NV.
- Westwell Wines a Gold medal for Kent with its Westwell Special Cuvée 2014. Another Kent-based producer, Gusbourne, received a Gold medal for its Gusbourne Blanc de Blancs 2013. It also produced another Gold medal sparkling for Berry Bros. & Rudd and its English Sparkling Wine Brut 2011.
- Over in Surrey, High Clandon Estate Vineyard received a Gold medal for its High Clandon The Aurora Cuvée 2011.
- A final Gold for English bubbles was awarded to Dorset-based winemaker, Furleigh Estates for its Blanc de Noirs Brut 2014.
Still wines run deep
- While England is typically known for its sparkling wines, English still wines had a strong year at the competition with six Silver and 21 Bronze medals being awarded to still varieties. The biggest surprise was the success of English red wines, which are still rarely produced in the UK, as winemakers typically have preferred to use white wine grapes.
- In a record year of success for English reds, two English Pinot Noirs were awarded Silver medals. Gusbourne Estate secured a Silver medal for its Pinot Noir 2014, and a second Silver went to Bolney Wine Estate Pinot Noir 2015.
Oz Clarke, Co-Chairman of the IWC commented:
“It’s been another fantastic year for English wine at the International Wine Challenge. Wine production in England has come so far in the past 20 years and we are definitely seeing the efforts of our producers pay off. With time comes experience and this is really starting to show.”
“It’s thrilling to think that up and down the country we’re producing outstanding wines that are able to stand up in international competition. This would have been almost unthinkable less than a decade ago. The future of English winemaking is bright, and there is nothing more exciting than thinking about the quality of wines we can expect in next year’s competition.”