• GB wine industry’s national competition highlights the winning styles of today awarded by top judges led by Susie Barrie MW and Oz Clarke OBE
• One of England’s smallest vineyards scoops major trophy alongside the established stars in English winemaking
• Classic Method sparkling wine styles triumph take 7 of the 10 trophies
• Innovation in UK wine industry shines through with an impressive clutch of awards for a range of new styles and methods
• Producers from Wales and nearly every county in England gained medals, signifying the breadth of winemaking skill across the UK.
2021 saw a record number of entries and first-time entrants from all over England and Wales, with 24 new producers entering for the first time, from the smallest to the very largest in the country. The results illustrate the ever-growing quality, innovation and new talent in the industry and reinforces some of the best-known winemakers in the ‘Hall of Fame’ of GB wines.
Over 300 entries were received, and the wines were judged over a week earlier in June at Ashling Park Wine Estate in Susses.
37 Gold medals, 107 Silver and 131 Bronze being awarded. This year 7 sparkling and 3 still classes received trophies. Of the total medals awarded,126 (46%) went to sparkling and 149 (54%) to still.
Whilst Classic Method sparkling wines remain the hero style of the industry, the awards embraced a huge range of wine styles among the entries including still wines – which won medals across the board – and innovation shone through with new styles and methods appearing for the first time including Pet Nat (petillant naturel), canned wine and a wine produced in amphora.
In terms of vintage sparkling wines, 2015 proved to be the star of the show, winning nine gold medals.
2021 Trophy triumphs included: Ashling Park, Wiston Estate, Gusbourne, Harrow & Hope and Chapel Down, with Digby and Bluebell Vineyard Estates cementing their position on the winners’ stage once again.
New trophy heroes include Surrey producer Greyfriars earning their first ever trophy; and one of England’s smallest vineyards scooped the Trophy for Best Sparkling Blend (which includes non-traditional varieties): Stonyfield Wine, a single field family-owned and run vineyard in Blisworth, Northamptonshire. The wine – Stonyfield Sparkling White 2017 – brings a national trophy to an English county little known for its wine production.
The WineGB Awards is one of the most rigorous and respected of competitions. Judged by a leading team of experts from the industry, headed by Co-chairs Susie Barrie MW and Oz Clarke OBE, all wines are retasted if they are to qualify for trophies, which are only awarded to a category when the judges feel it is deserved. This year’s judging panel comprised:
Rebecca Palmer, wine buyer of Corney & Barrow; broadcaster and journalist Helen McGinn (Knackered Mother’s Wine Club), Head Sommelier and wine buyer of The Tate Hamish Anderson; Majestic wine buyer Elizabeth Kelly MW and wine writer and consultant Simon Field MW. The number of judges was reduced to ensure that they could taste and assess in a safe environment and within the existing social distancing restrictions.
Commenting on the Awards, Co-Chair of judges Susie Barrie MW said: “2021 has been a great year for the WineGB Awards and undoubtedly our best yet. These Awards shine a light on the very best still and sparkling wines the UK has to offer and it’s wonderful to bear witness to an industry that is now consistently producing wines that really are world-class. Not only that, the range and variety of wines just keeps on getting better.”
Non Classic Method Sparkling Wines also proved shining examples of innovation and growth, receiving 10 medals, including one Charmat method wine, three Pet Nat styles, and two canned wines.
Traditional grape varieties Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and even Pinot Meunier also featured prominently in the award-winning still wines in all colour categories. Bacchus also remained a popular variety earning 41 medals and a Trophy. Still rosé wines accounted for just under 25% of all still wine awards together with a trophy.
Another notable Gold medal win was an Ortega fermented with wild yeasts on skins and aged in terracotta amphora for 10 months before being bottled without filtration, produced by Westwell in Kent. Further innovation in lesser-known varieties played their part with the Trophy-winning still rosé being 45% Merlot in the blend, a still red blend of Sovran and Cabernet Noir, and a 100% sparkling red Merlot.
Oz Clarke commented: “The WineGB Awards are one of the highlights of my year and this year certainly reinforced that; we had the thrill of encountering and rewarding even more styles, witnessing more innovation and discovering new producers, new names and new wines. I can speak for all the judges in saying that we’re all really excited about the potential that Britain is rapidly developing, and we saw it this year. You can only be at the birth of a new wine region once – and that’s where we are now!”
The top trophies – Top Still, Top Sparkling and Supreme Champion – will be announced in September at the WineGB Trade & Press Tasting, together with the Winery of the Year awards and celebrating the champions of each region (being the wines that earned the highest marks in each region). Each of the category trophies announced today will go head to head for those coveted awards.