English winemakers celebrated a spectacular showing at the International Wine Challenge awards dinner on Tuesday night as Nyetimber’s Cherie Spriggs and Camel Valley’s Bob Lindo won major awards.
The annual IWC awards dinner follows two weeks of blind-tasting in London by some of the industry’s most preeminent judges, and is often called “the Oscars of the wine world”.
Cherie, the head winemaker at Nyetimber, one of England’s leading sparkling wine producers, was crowned Sparkling Winemaker of the Year. She is both the first woman and the first winemaker outside of Champagne to win the award. Cherie joined Nyetimber along with her husband Brad Greatrix in 2007, after studying at the Wine Research Center in Vancouver and at Adelaide University. In a good year she makes 400,000 bottles but caused a stir in 2012 when she declared that Nyetimber would not produce a vintage, the grapes not being up to her exacting standards. Cherie is highly respected in the industry and the IWC felt it fitting she win the award this year.
More success for homegrown talent came with Bob Lindo of Camel Valley winery in Cornwall winning the IWC Lifetime Achievement Award for 2018. Camel Valley is run by the Lindo family on the south-facing slopes of the River Camel valley near Wadebridge. Bob and his wife Annie first planted some eight thousand vines back in 1989. In fact, they bought the farm to raise sheep and cattle, before later sidestepping into wine production. Bob and his wife Annie took viticulture courses, reading every vine and wine book they could find. This award is a far cry from Bob’s early days of spending nights crushing grapes.
Camel Valley has also just become the first English wine producer to be granted a Royal Warrant. The warrant sees the English wine producer join the ranks of several famous drinks brands whose bottles bear the Royal coat of arms such as Martini Vermouth, Champagne Bollinger, Pol Roger, Pimm’s and Hine Cognac. Companies can apply for a Royal Warrant after they’ve become regular suppliers to the Royal Household over a period of years.
It will have been a particularly poignant day for Bob as the awards dinner fell on the 100th anniversary of the RAF, which he served in as a pilot before founding Camel Valley.
This week’s awards complete a strong year of success for England, with 12 English entries receiving Gold medals this year. Of those winners, three entries stood out, achieving 96 points each: Cottonworth Wines Sparkling Rosé Vintage 2014; Nyetimber Blanc de Blancs 2010; and Nyetimber Classic Cuvée Magnum 2009.
From Hampshire, Cottonworth’s Rosé is a blend of the same three grapes as its Cuvée, but with a high proportion of Meunier (43%) and the addition of Pinot Noir Précoce. This wine opens up with a lovely soft nose and bright red fruit aromas of raspberry, cranberry and red apple. On the palate is a crisp bright acidity, helped along by a fine mousse and soft vanilla notes.
Under Cherie Sprigg’s management, Nyetimber achieved two wines scoring 96 points making it one of England`s most awarded and highly regarded vineyards. Located in southern England in West Sussex and Hampshire, the south facing Nyetimber vineyards are planted on sandy or chalk soils very similar to those in Champagne.
Nyetimber’s Blanc de Blancs 2010 is pale gold in colour with floral and lime aromas on rich notes of pastry and brioche. This is a fine and elegant wine with a long, complex finish. Meanwhile the Classic Cuvée 09 magnum is a lovely pale gold wine with great clarity and tiny refined bubbles. Aromas of lemon, orange peel, melon and vanilla are most prominent on the nose. Fresh apricot, toast and hazelnut flavours define the palate alongside a lovely tiny bubble texture. Again both of these scored an incredible 96 points.
Charles Metcalfe, Co-chair at the International Wine Challenge commented,
“All in all, it’s been another great year for England. We are already excited to see what next year brings – and are thrilled to support the flourishing wine industry here on home turf. Our huge congratulations must also of course be extended to Cherie Spriggs at Nyetimber, and Bob and the team at Camel Valley. Two pillars of homegrown talent we are thrilled to celebrate.”
The IWC / Visit England Cellar Door of the Year 2018 award, sponsored by London Wine Fair, went to High Clandon. Judges noted the experience from start to finish was excellent with a well-structured tour, interesting commentary from the hosts as well as an up close and personal look at the vines followed by a tasting.
High Clandon Estate Vineyard was founded in 2004 by Sibylla and Bruce Tindale. Their Elysium Cuvée Brut was a medal winner at this year’s WineGB Awards.