Wine superstars: International Wine Challenge names winemakers and personalities of the year
The International Wine Challenge announces its winemakers of the year, as well ‘Planet Earth’ Awards, Lifetime Achievement and Personality of the Year.
The 32nd International Wine Challenge celebrated the superstars of the global wine trade at its prestigious awards dinner at the Hilton Hotel, Park Lane in London, recognising the finest winemakers and most dedicated personalities in the industry.
The International Wine Challenge judging panel named Alain Rogier from Cave De Roquebrun its Red Winemaker of the Year. The Chief Executive and winemaker of the Languedoc-based winery oversaw a vintage year of success at the competition, with the vineyard receiving two trophies, five Gold medals, nine Silver and nine Bronze medals for the wines it entered.
- Kym Schroeter of Penfold’s Wines picked up the prize for IWC White Winemaker of the Year. Winemaking is in the blood of this Australian winemaker, having followed in the footsteps of his father, uncle and brother by joining Penfold Wines in 1987. Since 2003, he has focused on perfecting the company’s white wine production, and this award highlights how successful this endeavour has been.
- Laurent Fresnet from Champagne Henriot secured the title of IWC Sparkling Winemaker of the Year. Laurent Fresnet’s management of the Henriot cellar has breathed new life into the prestigious winery as it continues to cement its position as a powerhouse of Champagne production.
- Manuel Lozano, who heads up the team at sherry producer, Emilio Lustau, received the title of IWC Fortified Winemaker of the Year for the sixth consecutive year. The success of this world-class sherry winery is largely due to the blending wizardry of its cellarmaster, Lozano.
- No stranger to success at the IWC, Hans Tschida from Weingut Hans Tschida picked up the Sweet Winemaker of the Year award for the fifth time at the competition. The Austrian winemaker operates 30 hectares of vineyards in Illmitz and has been making world-class wines since 1993. Tschida wines are respected all over the world.
Charles Metcalfe, Co-Chairman of the IWC commented:
“These masters of wine production have proved they are true artists. This is about much more than a crop of great wines from a special vintage – these winners have proven that they can consistently produce the finest wines year on year. Their expertise and passion is evident in every sip.”
A life devoted to wine
This year’s IWC Lifetime Achievement award went to Sylvain Pitiot, the long-standing manager and technical director of the famous Clos de Tart estate in the village of Morey-St-Denis in Burgundy.
- Sylvain stepped down from his role at the vineyard at the end of 2014, having spent nearly 20 years in the position.
- In that time, Sylvain dramatically improved the wine production at Clos de Tart, a 7.5-hectare, Grand Cru monopole vineyard owned by the Mommessin family.
The IWC Personality of the Year went to Hans Joachim ‘Joe’ Wadsack. Co-host of BBC Two’s ‘Food and Drink’ – Joe hosts tastings all around the globe, and has been a panel chair for the International Wine Challenge for a decade.
Charles Metcalfe continued:
“These two pillars of the wine trade have demonstrated that a career driven by passion can be hugely rewarding. Sylvain’s dedication to perfection and constant improvement throughout his career in wine is hugely admirable, and Joe’s energetic approach has breathed new life into the industry.”
The International Wine Challenge also awarded its ‘Planet Earth Awards’ to winemakers who prioritise sustainability whilst consistently creating world-class wines.
- For the second year in a row, Spanish producer Alta Alella Domaine de la Vougeraie received the IWC Best Organic Wine Trophy, this time for its Alta Alella AA Mirgin Gran Reserva 2010 Cava. Created in the family-run vineyard near Barcelona, this refreshing sparkling white wine blends honey and nut flavours with ripe fruits and fresh apple acidity.
- Auckland vineyard Man O’ War received the IWC Sustainable Trophy for its Gravestone Sauvignon Blanc Sémillon 2013. The New Zealand winery produced this deliciously complex white wine with rich, ripe nectarine and apricot fruit aromas with hints of bell pepper and a lingering finish.
- The IWC Biodynamic Trophy went to EQ Syrah 2012 by Matetic Vineyards. The intense, striking colour of this Syrah was described by the judges as “David Hockney meets Pablo Picasso”, and it delivers a fascinating array of aromas including pepper, clove and blueberry. A Syrah for all seasons, the EQ 2012 won a Gold medal and the San Antonio Valley Syrah Trophy at the IWC 2015.
- De Bos Sauvignon Blanc 2014 produced by Bosman Family Vineyard scooped the IWC Fairtrade Award (sponsored by Origin Wines). This South African white has aromas of lemon and lime on the nose, together with an elegant blend of grassy freshness and passion fruit richness.
- The responsibly produced wines at the IWC are tasted blind just like any other IWC entrant: when tasting the wines, the judges are not aware that the wines are responsibly produced. The wine scores are examined later and the award goes to the highest rated wine in each category.
Charles Metcalfe added:
“It is wonderful to see how these winemakers are innovating in order to minimise the impact on the environment and to protect the communities in which they work. These four fantastic ‘Planet Earth’ trophy winners are the delicious proof that you don’t need to compromise on quality when creating wine responsibly.”