England stars shine brighter than ever at the International Wine Challenge 2018
Brits were celebrating last night at London’s Grosvenor House Hotel as The International Wine Challenge (IWC) announced its final results of the 2018 competition, including its Champion wines and Champion winemakers.
Following two weeks of blind-tasting in London by some of the industry’s most preeminent judges, the IWC hosted its annual awards dinner – widely referred to as the Oscars of the wine world – and revealed the results.
From thousands of wines tasted and tested from around the globe, two Brits in particular stood out for their work and contribution to the wine industry.
Cherie Spriggs sparkles for England
As the highly coveted Winemaker of the Year awards were announced, there was tumultuous applause for England as Cherie Spriggs from Nyetimber won the title of IWC Sparkling Winemaker of the Year 2018. This is the first time that a winemaker outside of the Champagne region has won the sparkling winemaker award – and the first time it has gone to a woman. Cherie joined Nyetimber, one of England’s leading sparkling wine producers, along with her husband Brad Greatrix, in 2007, after studying at the Wine Research Center in Vancouver and at Adelaide University. In a good year she makes 400,000 bottles but caused a stir in 2012 when she declared that Nyetimber would not produce a vintage, the grapes not being up to her exacting standards. Cherie is highly respected in the industry and the IWC felt it fitting she win the award this year.
Recognition for Bob Lindo with the IWC Lifetime Achievement Award
More success for homegrown talent came with Bob Lindo of Camel Valley winery in Cornwall winning the IWC Lifetime Achievement Award for 2018. Camel Valley is run by the Lindo family on the south-facing slopes of the River Camel valley near Wadebridge. Ex-RAF pilot Bob Lindo and his wife Annie first planted some eight thousand vines back in 1989. In fact, they bought the farm to raise sheep and cattle, before later sidestepping into wine production. Bob and his wife Annie took viticulture courses, reading every vine and wine book they could find. This award is a far cry from Bob’s early days of spending nights crushing grapes.
Camel Valley has also just become the first English wine producer to be granted a Royal Warrant. The warrant sees the English wine producer join the ranks of several famous drinks brands whose bottles bear the Royal coat of arms such as Martini Vermouth, Champagne Bollinger, Pol Roger, Pimm’s and Hine Cognac. Companies can apply for a Royal Warrant after they’ve become regular suppliers to the Royal Household over a period of years.
England’s star performers this year at the IWC
This week’s awards complete a strong year of success for England, with 12 English entries receiving Gold medals this year. Of those winners, three entries stood out, achieving 96 points each: Cottonworth Wines Sparkling Rosé Vintage 2014; Nyetimber Blanc de Blancs 2010; and Nyetimber Classic Curve Magnum 2009.
From Hampshire, Cottonworth’s Rosé is a blend of the same three grapes as its Cuvée, but with a high proportion of Meunier (43%) and the addition of Pinot Noir Précoce. This wine opens up with a lovely soft nose and bright red fruit aromas of raspberry, cranberry and red apple. On the palate is a crisp bright acidity, helped along by a fine mousse and soft vanilla notes.
Under Cherie Sprigg’s management, Nyetimber achieved two wines scoring 96 points making it one of England`s most awarded and highly regarded vineyards. Located in southern England in West Sussex and Hampshire, the south facing Nyetimber vineyards are planted on sandy or chalk soils very similar to those in Champagne.
Nyetimber’s Blanc de Blancs 2010 is pale gold in colour with floral and lime aromas on rich notes of pastry and brioche. This is a fine and elegant wine with a long, complex finish. Meanwhile the Classic Cuvee 09 magnum is a lovely pale gold wine with great clarity and tiny refined bubbles. Aromas of lemon, orange peel, melon and vanilla are most prominent on the nose. Fresh apricot, toast and hazelnut flavours define the palate alongside a lovely tiny bubble texture. Again both of these scored an incredible 96 points.
Charles Metcalfe, Co-chair at the International Wine Challenge commented,
“All in all, it’s been another great year for England. We are already excited to see what next year brings – and are thrilled to support the flourishing wine industry here on home turf. Our huge congratulations must also of course be extended to Cherie Spriggs at Nyetimber, and Bob and the team at Camel Valley. Two pillars of homegrown talent we are thrilled to celebrate.”