Britain brings the medals home in IWSC

Highlights for UK:

  • Over 90 entries of wines received medals across 10 different counties.
  • 21% of medals were awarded to still wines, with Pinot Noir from England emerging as a popular style.
  • Bacchus hold its position as the iconic grape variety from England, with more than 50% of medals given to the single-varietal and Bacchus-dominated blends.
  • English sparkling wine continues to ride one wave of success after another, with 10% of wines receiving a gold. The highlights coming from 2014 and 2015 vintages.

The outstanding quality coming out of England’s vineyards was proven at the International Wine & Spirits Competition (IWSC) judging this year. The excitement and energy were palpable across the tasting room as the golds came rolling in. As Michelin-starred chef and wine connoisseur Roger Jones summed up, “it was a proud moment to be British”.

The 2021 judges in this category were: Rebecca Palmer, Associate Director & Buyer for Corney & Barrow Ltd; David Kermode, Journalist & Broadcaster; Roger Jones, Michelin Star Chef; Elliot Awin, Partner at Awin Barratt Siegel Wine Agencies. Wine Judging Committee: John Hoskin MW.

Never in the 50 plus years of IWSC history has such an array and quality of English wines been on offer for tasting and assessment. With over 90 entries scoring medals spread across production from 10 different counties, all the hard work came home this year. And for a public that has been forced to turn their gaze to the beauty of their home island, there is a stream of places to visit and medal winners to try. Rebecca Palmer, Associate Director & Buyer at Corney & Barrow Ltd summed it up “the bar just gets higher every year, in general. But there are also more wines with what I call ‘star quality’; wines that thrill you, stop you in your tracks.”

21% of the medals went to still wines this year, showing an interesting array of grape styles. Palmer said, “And of course, while the UK’s sparkling wines are grabbing the spotlight, we found some delicious still wines”. English Pinot Noir is emerging as a popular style, gaining medals, whilst the delights of drinking rosé have come to the shores of Britain, the judges commenting on their freshness of fruity flavours.

When it comes to still white wines, Bacchus is ahead as becoming an iconic grape associated with England. The judges all commented on its fresh mouthfeel and the elderflower and hawthorn notes that many samples displayed. Pure Bacchus and dominated blends accounted for more than 50% of medals awarded to whites in this category, along with single-varietal Chardonnays and other aromatic blends gaining awards.

However, the true passion and attention to detail came forth with the sparkling wines. Over 70 samples won medals with 10% winning coveted golds and 32% silvers. Judge David Kermode, Journalist & Broadcaster said, “a gold haul, the likes of which I have never previously experienced”. With highlights coming from the 2014 and 2015 vintages, a blend of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, or the classic trio of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. He went on to enthuse that the wines displayed, “thrilling acidity and freshness, but also real complexity, harmony and a luxurious level of depth.” Palmer agreed saying, “wine after wine, beautifully pitched, poised and with a personality all their own”.

Almost all the sparkling wines were made with the classic grapes in a variety of styles and percentages, only a few choosing other more traditionally English growing grapes. Four of the medal winners came from Bacchus, Pinot Gris or a blend of other varietals.

Sparkling rosé has always been a firm favourite with consumers and the judges agreed, awarding over 20 medals to the style. Comments highlighted the strawberry fruits, cherries, spice and red apples with classy and subtle mousse and acidity.

These amazing results prove that England truly deserves its place on the winemaking world map and our judges agree, heaping praise on the quality and style of the wines entered.


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