International Wine Challenge

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About International Wine Challenge

The International Wine Challenge (IWC) owned by William Reed Business Media is now in its 35th year. The IWC is accepted as the world's finest and most meticulously judged wine competition which assesses every wine blind and judges each for its faithfulness to style, region and vintage Throughout the rigorous judging processes, each medal winning wine is tasted on three separate occasions by at least 10 different judges and awards include medals (Gold, Silver, Bronze) and Commended awards

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The International Wine Challenge Digital Newsroom is a simple and useful resource for you to keep track of all the latest news stories. High resolution images and complete press releases are available to download from here, and you can connect with our various social media profiles easily. Suggestions for improvements are welcome.

Contact Details

Elly Barham-Marsh Helen Kenny
Manifest London
t. +44 (0)203 1379 270

International Wine Challenge

International Wine Challenge announces Sake Champion, and awards first Great Value Sake Award

International Wine Challenge announces Sake Champion at prestigious Trophy Awards dinner Sake maker Hirata Shuzojou Co. Ltd picked up the award for Champion Sake at the 31st annual International Wine Challenge Awards for its 1995 Jukusei Koshu Hidanohana Suiou. This very special 18.7% ABV koshu (aged sake) fought off competition from over 700 other entries to scoop the prestigious Champion Sake award, which is sponsored by Japan Airlines.

  • This family-run brewery in Hida-Takayama, Japan has been making Sake since 1895 and had just 5 employees. The Champion Sake winning undiluted Junmai Sake impressed the IWC Sake panel with its rich golden colour and delicate sweetness.
  • Winning the IWC Champion Sake accolade will catapult this small brewery to international fame at a time when Sake is becoming increasingly popular around the world.
  • IWC Award winning Sake is already served in Japanese Embassies throughout the world. His Excellency Ambassador Keiishi Hayashi welcomed the delegation of brewers and members of the Sake Samurai Association to the UK, including previous Sake Champions.
  • His Excellency Ambassador Keiishi Hayashi also played host to the International Wine Challenge’s award winning sake tasting to celebrate the IWC’s 31st Anniversary.
  • In a competition first, the International Wine Challenge also awarded a Great Value Sake Award, sponsored by the Sake Samurai Association. Niigata based brewery, Asahi Shuzo Co. Ltd, which has been making Sake for almost 200 years, received the Award for its Asahiyama Senjuhai 2013.  This traditional Niigata style sake can be served chilled or warm.
  • Now in its 8th year, the IWC Sake competition has grown dramatically in recent times.  725 Sakes entered this year’s competition with 37 variants being awarded the much-coveted Gold medal for excellence.  Sakes from 18 different prefectures were award Gold medals, with Yamagata and Niigata both leading with five breweries each picking up Gold.
  • This year’s competition also saw the introduction of two new sake categories: Ordinary Sake (futsu-shu) and the relatively new phenomenon of Sparkling Sake.
  • An international panel of over forty Sake experts judged the prestigious competition, including master of wines (MWs) from over 10 different countries including Australia, China, USA and Japan.  This cements the IWC Sake competition as the most unique and multi-national Sake judging in the world.
  • Sake has seen a huge increase in popularity in recent years across Asia, USA and Europe as more people discover this unique tipple. The surge in quality, availability and popularity across the world has also been supported by the Japanese state campaign to promote Sake overseas as a symbol of national identity of the country.
  • Visit the IWC website for the full list of winners

QUOTATIONS Kenichi Ohashi, Co-Chairman of the Sake competition continued;

“Every year we are seeing the quality of sake entering the International Wine Challenge improve, and 2014 is no exception. It is wonderful to see different varieties succeeding at the competition, picking up prestigious awards and being exposed to an international audience. The introduction of a Great Value Sake Award in the competition also shows how you don’t need to break the bank to get an excellent Sake.”

Rie Yoshitake, the IWC Sake Ambassador commented:

“More and more people from all around the world are being seduced by this versatile and intriguing drink. With more new varieties hitting the market and winning prestigious awards at respected competitions like the International Wine Challenge, I am confident the popularity of Sake is going to surge worldwide. With so many different styles to try, you could never get bored of Sake.”

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