The results in this year’s Decanter World Wine Awards are in – and wines from England and Wales are celebrating a haul of top medals. Crowning Britain’s success is a 2011-vintage English sparkling wine winning one of just 50 coveted Best in Show medals awarded globally.
In what has been hailed as the biggest-ever edition of the Decanter World Wine Awards, vintage English sparkling displayed world-class quality, and still wines from England and Wales won Gold medals.
The UK Best in Show medal went to Squerryes, Late Disgorged Brut 2011, a sparkling wine from Kent made with the classic ‘Champagne’ grape varieties: Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. Just 0.28% of the total wines tasted at DWWA 2021 secured one of the 50 Best in Show medals; the victory demonstrates how UK sparkling wines can rival top cuvées around the world in terms of their ability to age.
The winning wine is a classic method sparkling wine produced from 45% Chardonnay, 35% Pinot Noir, 20% Pinot Meunier. DWWA judges said in their tasting notes on the wine: ‘The drama and intensity of great traditional-method English sparkling wines is now widely recognised. What English wine creators are just beginning to grasp, though, is just how propitious their fine sparkling wines are for extended ageing, in large part due to the extraordinary, flavour-saturated acid profiles bequeathed by the long, luminous yet always fretful English summers.
‘The aromas of this outstanding 2011 Kentish wine are expressive, harmonious and refined after a decade of slow maturation — all orchard fruits, wet stone and damp woodland.’
DWWA 2021 also emphasised the UK wine industry’s strength in depth. Alongside one Best in Show medal, UK wines won two Platinum and nine Gold medals, as well as 81 Silver and 51 Bronze.
Wineries in Kent enjoyed a particularly strong year, although 21 UK regions from Cornwall to Derbyshire and in North and South Wales were represented on this year’s medal table.
Seven sparkling wines won Gold medals. They included Buckinghamshire winery Harrow & Hope’s Blanc de Noirs Brut 2015 and Surrey-based Denbies’ ‘Cubitt Blanc de Noirs’ 2014, as well as Supermarket Morrisons’ ‘The Best English Sparkling Brut’ 2010.
Still wines also showed why they are considered a rising force on the UK winemaking scene, winning two Gold medals.
One of those Golds went to White Castle Vineyard’s ‘Pinot Noir Reserve’ 2018, made with Pinot Noir Précoce in Monmouthshire, Wales. This was the first-ever Gold medal won by a Welsh wine in the DWWA. The other Gold went to Kent-based Chapel Down winery’s ‘Kit’s Coty’ Bacchus 2019.
Bacchus, which some experts have likened to Sauvignon Blanc, has emerged as a key grape variety for UK white wines in recent years.
Sarah Jane Evans, Master of Wine (MW) and DWWA 2021 Co-Chair, said of this year’s competition: ‘You know that this is something that’s been through a really rigorous judging process. We’re not playing at judging here. This is blind tasting. We have absolutely no idea what the wines are and we’re tasting them not only in panels together where we have to each discuss and think about them deeply, but then they go up to Regional Chairs who are experts in those countries and also have a chance to step back and decide whether they really are the right Gold medal winners.
‘Then they go up to the Co-Chairs who re-taste and think again. So actually, that rigour, that independence is really, really a wonderful thing to have for a medal, so whether you get a Bronze, or a Silver or a Gold you can know it’s been hard won.’
You can see the full line up of winners in this year’s DWWA 2021 awards here.