Winning wines: Home-grown wines pick up the medals in the latest International Wine Challenge Awards

Our home-produced wines have once again made their mark finishing eighth overall in the international table of medals.

Thursday, 3rd June 2021, 12:30 pm
International wine Challenge: Wines from England and Wales were praised by judges

That’s eighth out of 50 countries – and we even finished above New Zealand.

You might not think of wines from Great Britain as having an international reputation.

But oh yes, the growing investment, the increasing wine making and grape growing skills, and even climate change, are all making a mark on the quality of wines.

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Judges blind-taste thousands of wines in the International Wine Challenge competition

Oz Clarke, one of the six co-chairs for the International Wine Challenge (IWC) said of the results: “Over the past few decades, it’s been incredible to witness the progress Great Britain has been making on the world stage for its wine, especially the sparkling wines from southern England.

“What’s really exciting to see now, however, is the quality of wines we are tasting from other regions in the UK and the diverse styles being produced there.”

Thousands of wines from more than 50 countries were judged by a panel of international wine experts in the IWC’s two-week blind tasting this April. The best were awarded medals to help consumers make wine choices.

TV wine expert Helen McGinn, co-chair of the IWC, said: “Each year, a dedicated, expert team of judges at the International Wine Challenge tastes thousands of wines in order to find the very best in class.

“An International Wine Challenge medal sticker helps consumers navigate the wide range of wines available on supermarket shelves in the UK and gives them confidence to make informed wine choices every time they buy.”

And so it does.

If you’re struggling to make a decision on the wine aisles then a wine bearing an IWC label is a reliable stamp of quality.

Let’s go back to what’s what with the GB wines.

While the south of England remains Britain’s wine heartland, medal-winning wines are now being produced throughout the nation.

Medals were awarded to wines in Staffordshire, Shropshire, Worcestershire and Derbyshire as well as Conwy, Powys and Monmouthshire in Wales.

Wines from 21 counties across England and Wales were awarded medals including 12 gold, 48 silver, 58 bronze and 18 commended.

Shropshire winery Hencote took this year’s only gold medal for an English still wine.

It was for a red wine – Mark I 2018 which is made from a blend of pinot noir, précoce and rondo grapes.

Judges described it as having “herb riddled red fruit, touch of white pepper with a well balanced and concentrated finish”.

Kent led the medal wins for English wines with 30, three of which were gold. If you’d like to find out more about our wines, keep an eye out for English Wine Week which takes place June 19 - 27. Follow the hashtag #EnglishWineWeek, or go to www.winegb.co.uk.

Waitrose is a huge advocate of home-grown wines and ahead of the annual celebration, is this week launching a case of six English wines (£90) which includes a rosé, two whites, two reds and a fizz.

In 2020, Waitrose says its English sparkling wine sales increased by 52 per cent year-on-year as people invested in more premium fizz to drink at home during lockdown.

I’ll dash quickly back to the IWC awards ... last time I was here I gave a nod to Morrisons.

I can tell you the retailer did very well in the IWC awards. A total of 591 medals were awarded to supermarkets, 430 of which were for own label wines.

Morrisons was top with 109 awards, and Tesco second – 108. Find all the IWC medal winners at www.internationalwinechallenge.com

Tropic tastes

I’m hoping June will deliver its fair share of cocktails. Fingers crossed its a more giving month than May with rays of sunshine!

There’s a sunny new Co-op range. The retailer has launched a limited edition in its gin range: - Irresistible Pineapple & Coconut Gin (£14, 50cl).

I’m never one to (coconut) shy away from a challenge and so I tasted it.

On its own, it’s a heady mix of pineapple and coconut, both balanced in equal measure.

A simple tonic water added a bitterness and dampened the tropical flavours. But it zinged with a ginger ale!

The gin has a tropical sister sip to try, Irresistible Pineapple and Coconut Cider (£2, 500ml). Both are vegan.

Jane Clare is a programme provider for the Wine & Spirit Education Trust. To find out more, email [email protected]