Uncorked: Key highlights from Tranche One of International Wine Challenge 2018 revealed
Under embargo till 11am 30/11/2017
The International Wine Challenge (IWC) is today revealing the results from Tranche One from its 35th competition, following a week of intensive blind tasting by its panel of wine experts. With over 1,600 medals awarded to wines from all corners of the globe, Christmas has come early for wine drinkers and producers alike.
It also marked the first time the IWC made its 100-points system consumer-facing, allowing a greater understanding of a wine’s ranking.
Top five top picks
- France stole the show, being awarded an outstanding 341 medals, including 26 Golds. Burgundy was its most successful region, with ten Golds being produced in the iconic winemaking area.
- White Burgundy from 2015 did particularly well, securing seven Gold medals. The best performing of these Gold medal winners (with 96 Points) were Meursault Charmes Dessus 1er Cru 2015, made by Domaine du Château de Meursault, Berry Bros. & Rudd Puligny-Montrachet 2015, made by Domaine Jean-Louis Chavy, and Chablis Grand Cru Vaudésir 2015, made by William Fèvre.
- New Zealand came in a strong second, landing 200 medals including 15 Golds, 94 Silvers and 91 Bronze. Kiwi producers had most success with Pinot Noir and Sauvignon Blanc entries, with over three-quarters of all Gold medals being awarded to these classic styles.
- However, two of the highest scoring New Zealand entries broke with tradition, with a Cabernet Sauvignon and a Chardonnay both securing 96 points; Brancott Estate Letter “O” Series Chardonnay 2016 and Mission Jewelstone Antoine 2015, a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. Wild Earth Pinot Noir 2015 also received 96 points.
- 15 Australian wines received Gold medals, with a further 78 Silvers and 91 Bronze being awarded to Aussie entries. Australian winemakers impressed across a broad range of styles, with Riesling, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz, as well as fortified wine entries receiving Gold medals.
- Amongst thousands of entries, two wines stood out as the pick of the bunch for judges after scoring 97 points, the highest score from days of judging. The first of these was Western Australia’s Domaine Naturaliste Artus 2016, produced in the Margaret River region. It proved to be a competition favourite, being described as ‘remarkable’ by the judging panel.
- The other wine to achieve 97 points was Germany’s Weingut Reiss’ Randersackerer Pfülben Riesling Beerenauslese 2016. This sweet white clocked up the high score thanks to its intense apricot and candid lemon flavours.
- Spain secured 160 medals in this year’s competition, extending its medal tally from last year’s Tranche One by 19. Of the medals awarded, nine were Gold, 76 Silver and 75 Bronze. The volcanic island of Tenerife has reason to pour several glasses today after the El Legado de Camacho 2014 from Jacob Lorenzo Rodriguez, won the region’s first-ever Gold.
- Portugal wasn’t far behind its neighbouring country with 104 medals – eight Gold, 40 Silver and 56 Bronze – awarded to its winemakers. Over half of the Gold medals were awarded to its ports, including two of the country’s highest scoring entries. The Tesco Finest* Vintage Port 1997 produced by Symington Family Estate and Bulas Vintage Port 2014 by Bulus Family Estates both secured a Gold medal with 96 points. A third Portuguese wine received 96 points; Monte da Ravasqueira Reserva da Familia Branco 2016, a still Viognier and Alvarinho blend produced by Sociedade Agricola D. Diniz.
- England performed well in Tranche One with two Golds for Sparkling wines, for the Nyetimber Classic Cuvee Multi-Vintage Magnum (95 points) and the Hush Heath Estate Balfour Blanc de Blancs Cuvée Skye 2014 (95 points). A further 20 Silver medals were awarded, 16 of which were for sparkling wines and 4 medals for white wines.
Off the beaten track
- In addition to the big hitters, the IWC panel also discovered world-class wines from many countries you may not expect.
- Georgia performed well, with the Vaziana Winery securing a Gold medal and a score of 96 points for its Mtsvane 2016, which delighted the panel with its complex palate of dried fruits, herbs and honey. A further eight Silver medals and six Bronze were awarded to Georgian wines.
- Another country of note was Croatia, which racked up two Gold medals, two Silver and four Bronze. Croatian producer Damjanic Wines, produced both of the country’s Golds. Its Clemente Blanc 2015 charmed the judges with its lime blossom and fresh pear notes, while its Malvazija 2016 wowed with its great structure and zesty finish.
- Further afield, the IWC panel awarded medals to wines from Azerbaijan, Japan and Uruguay.
- Azerbaijan’s Aspi Aqro received an impressive Silver medal with its first ever entry into the competition, the Savalan Elisa Winemaker Reserve 2016. The Chardonnay and Muscat blend secured 90 points.
- Japan also performed well, with three Silver medals being awarded to white wines produced by Katsunuma Jyozom namely the Aruga Branca Pipa 2015, Aruga Branca Vinhal Issehara 2016 and its Aruga Branca Clareza Distinctamente 2016. A further four Bronze were awarded to the Japanese producer, Sadoya.
- Uruguayan producer Bodega Garzon received a Silver medal for its Garzon Reserva Tannat, a sophisticated red with dense, dark fruit and mocha notes. Bodega Garzon also received a further three Bronze medals.
Oz Clarke, Co-Chair of the IWC commented:
“Winemakers from all over the globe have yet again surprised and delighted the IWC judges at Tranche One of the 2018 competition. From exquisite classics to more unusual styles, we’ve seen huge diversity in our medal winners.”
“It was truly an outstanding effort from France, New Zealand and Australia, but let us not forget some of the surprising highlights. Winemakers from places like Tenerife and Azerbaijan are making a real impact on the judges, receiving medals for the very first time. If this year’s results are anything to go by, Georgia and Croatia are certainly also ones to watch as well.”