International Wine Challenge 2018 reveals the highlights from this year’s competition
Under embargo until 11am 10/05/18
The results of the 2018 International Wine Challenge are announced today following two weeks of blind tasting at London’s Oval cricket ground. Thousands of wines from a total of 55 countries were put to the test by a panel of experts – throwing up revealing and occasionally unexpected results, with medals awarded for established regions and producers as well as emerging countries and appellations.
The highlights in detail:
France steals the show again
France has excelled once again by being awarded 1,331 medals overall, more than any other country, including a formidable 128 Golds. Burgundy achieved 41 Gold medals but the real star of the show was the Champagne region with 47.
Australia shone once again at IWC 2018 with 768 medals, second only to France. In total Australia has been awarded 73 Gold medals with a fairly even split of 37 whites and 35 reds picking up Gold. Two Gold medal awarded wines stood out for the judges, both attaining distinguished scores of 97 points: Domaine Naturaliste, Artus Chardonnay 2016 and Penfolds, Bin 16A Chardonnay 2016.
England is no longer ‘one to watch’ but one that’s arrived – certainly as far as sparkling wine is concerned. England’s 128 medals this year increased on 2017s total tally of 108. Of its 12 Gold medals at IWC 2018, all but one has been for sparkling wine. Those of note included Cottonworth Wines, Sparkling Rose Vintage 2014; Nyetimber Blanc de Blancs 2010; and Nyetimber Classic Cuvee Magnum 2009 – all three achieving 96points.
67 Gold medals were awarded to Spain – two-thirds of these for sherry. Leading the charge for the famed Jerez region was producer Emilio Lustau, which achieved an incredible 18 Golds within this category. Regular success story Gonzalez Byass was not far behind, scoring nine Gold medals including one of Spain’s highest scoring entries: Tio Pepe, Tres Palmas Fino which attained 97 points.
The depth of talent in Italian winemaking was shown with broad success across a number of regions including seven Golds apiece for the familiar powerhouses of Tuscany, Piedmont and the Veneto. A red from the latter, Zonin Amarone della Valpolicella 2014 achieved Italy’s highest score this year of 97.
In a repeat of 2017, Italy also picked up six Gold medals for sparkling wines. Two went to Proseccos, with further sparkling Golds being awarded to a Lambrusco as well as a Franciacorta.
New Zealand picked up 394 medals this year, including 32 Gold.
Of its 32 Gold medals, almost half were for Pinot Noir. Hawkesbury Estates achieved greatest success by picking up two Golds both scoring 96 points: Hawkesbury Estates Akitu A1 Black Label 2016 and Hawkesbury Estates Akitu A2 White Label 2016.
Nine Golds were also awarded to Sauvignon Blancs with a stand out example from The McElhinney Wine Group with its Cause and Effect Barrique Fermented Sauvignon Blanc 2017 which scored 96 points.
43 of Portugal’s 63 Gold medals were for fortified wines, most notably Agri-Roncão Vinícola DR Port L70, Sogevinus Fine Wines Porto Burmester Colheita 1952 and Esporão Quinta dos Murças Vintage 2015 – each scoring an impressive 97 points.
Portugal was awarded 4 Golds for white wines and 16 Golds for red wines, including the Quinta do Pégo Vinhas Velhas 2014 which scored 97 points.
In keeping with its reputation for remarkable reds, Argentina took home 13 Golds primarily for its Malbec and Malbec blends which were awarded nine Golds overall.
Bodega Norton’s brace of Golds for Lote Negro 2015 and Norton Privada Family Blend 2015 both scored 96 points.
Meanwhile, UK consumers will be pleased to see a Gold win from Marks and Spencer own-label Colomé Altitude Blend Malbec Cabernet Franc Tannat 2015 retailing at £12.50.
As the most widely planted variety in South Africa, Chenin Blanc led the way for wines in South Africa picking up 4 of a total 15 Gold medals.
There was also a Gold-winning top scorer for the Paul Cluver Noble Late Harvest 2017 a Riesling which scored an impressive 96 points, a great example of a botrytis wine produced in South Africa.
A number of less well-established wine regions were awarded medals. But it was Georgia that particularly impressed judges, with five Gold medals this year: 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.
This year Japan won a total of 11 Silvers and – for the first time – a Gold for a red wine for the Tomi No Oka Winery Tomi Red 2013.
China meanwhile won a total of 12 Silver medals including its top scoring Qingyu Chateau Qingyu Wangfu Year Of Dog Cabernet Sauvignon & Merlot 2014.
Oz Clarke, Co-Chair of the IWC commented:
“It has been another fantastic year at the International Wine Challenge. In fact, we feel that each year comes with not only reassurances that the big familiar names are upholding their standards and even outdoing themselves but also there have been thrilling surprises from new and emerging territories which of course we are only too happy to support. Already there is a buzz for next year!”