The Independent English Wine Awards (IEWA), England’s only independent national wine competition, held its second annual judging day at the historic Rummer Hotel, Bristol on 17 March 2018.
Independent English Wine Award
Best sparkling wine
Rosé 2014 – Langham Wine Estate– Dorset
“A delicious blend of Pinot noir and Chardonnay, our stunning sparkling Rosé has a lovely pale salmon colour, with a fine and steady stream of bubbles. Partial barrel fermentation and 24 months lees ageing produce a nose that is alive with aromas of strawberries, raspberries and cherries. The palate is light and refreshing with flavours reminiscent of summer fruit pudding and a honeyed richness on the finish. An excellent wine for any occasion or paired with fresh fruit desserts. Perfect now or age for up to 3 years.”
(Langham Wine Estate)
Independent English Wine Award
Best still wine
Pinot Gris 2015- Stopham Estate– Sussex
“Our Pinot Gris is off-dry and is pale yellow in colour, with aromatic peach and pear fruit alongside the floral character on the nose. On the palate, this has excellent balance with crisp acidity. It is fairly full in body, with plenty of juicy fruit intensity, but is refreshing and long, with a lively citrus and stone fruit finish.”
51 different producers (a 59% increase on last year) from 22 counties across England submitted a total of 88 wines into the blind tasting competition, which is consumer focussed and aims to award, promote and celebrate the best of English wine.
The competition awarded 13 gold medals, 28 silver medals and 31 bronze medals, with winners a near even split between sparkling and still wines.
The top sparkling wine was judged to be the 2014 Rosé from Langham Wine Estate in Dorset with judges applauding its “excellent nose” and “ripe brilliant aromatics”.
“We are delighted to have received these awards which reflect our passion for producing world-class sparkling wines from our Dorset estate,” said Justin Langham owner of Langham Wine Estate. “The calibre of this competition is extremely high and we are very proud that such an acclaimed group of judges deemed our Rosé 2014 the top sparkling wine. This is a huge boost for our small team as we move in to a busy time bottling last year’s wines, tending the vines and welcoming visitors to the estate.”
The top prize in the still wine category went to the 2015 Pinot Gris from Sussex’s Stopham Estate with judges praising it as “forward, with prominent but expertly controlled acidity. Textured, superbly balanced, with great intensity of flavours”.
“Being recognised as the best still wine at the IEWA is fantastic news,” said Simon Woodhead winemaker at Stopham. “Exciting, well crafted English wine is as good as it gets and a gold medal is the perfect way to recognise the work of our entire team.”
In addition to Langham, gold medals in the sparkling wine section were awarded to Astley Vineyard’s 2014 Kerner, Cottonworth’s 2014 Rosé, Hattingley Valley’s 2014 Rosé, Jenkyn Place’s 2013 Classic Cuvée, Laverstoke Park’s 2010 Brut Reserve and Wiston Estate’s NV Blanc de Blancs.
Gold medals for still wines were presented to Giffords Hall’s 2016 Bacchus, Hidden Spring’s 2016 Bacchus, Lyme Bay’s 2016 Pinot Noir, New Hall’s 2016 Bacchus Fumé and Tuffon Hall’s 2016 Beatrice.
“These results really show off the diverse capability of English wine,” said event founder, Bristol-based marketer Alexander Taylor. “They show that we’re making compelling wine all over the country, still and sparkling, using a range of grapes and styles. It’s a real privilege to be able to work with producers to help grab people’s attention and tell the story.”
The only English red wine to receive a gold medal, Lyme Bay’s 2016 Pinot Noir, was highly praised by Liam Steevenson as his “wine of the day” for its style that the “Burgundians would be very proud of”.
“The grapes were grown by Michael and Heather Bunker in Essex and were of such excellent quality, the challenge for us was to do them justice,” said Lyme Bay’s head winemaker Liam Ldzikowski. “In an exceptional year, making world class English Pinot noir is now possible.”
The 18-person judging panel was chaired by Master of Wine Liam Steevenson, and sub-chaired by winemaker Ben Hulland, Champagne buyer Alex Schuster and drinks writer Cherry Constable, with panel members drawn from across the wine spectrum, from merchant, to broadcaster, to knowledgeable consumer.
Judging was carried out by blind tasting, with scoring submitted via a digital platform, with gold medals then tasted again by the panel chairs to verify results and establish ‘trophy’ wines for both sparkling and still.
“What cannot be disputed anymore is that England and its talented group of enthusiastic producers are creating wines that compete in style and quality with anything the rest of the world can offer,” said judging panel chair Liam Steevenson MW.
“We are without doubt a wine producing nation. There is real strength in the sparkling and white categories and for me those that dared to be English in style rather than try and emulate French counterparts really stood out.”
Entries for the 2019 competiton will be open from 1 January 2019 with judging taking place on 23 March 2019.