Sim­ply the best

Each year, the Winegb Awards demon­strates the ex­cel­lence of Bri­tish vine­yards. This year’s com­pe­ti­tion was no ex­cep­tion

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The WineGB Awards

The re­sults of the 2018 awards con­firm what we’ve known for years: Bri­tain has an ex­cit­ing fu­ture along­side the world’s clas­sic re­gions as pro­duc­ers of high­qual­ity wines. Bri­tish sparkling wines reg­u­larly win in blind tast­ings that in­clude some of the most pres­ti­gious ex­am­ples from other re­gions and our still wines sing with the dis­tinc­tive char­ac­ter of the coun­try­side.

This year, no fewer than 230 entries to 14 style cat­e­gories were awarded tro­phies. Oz Clarke, who, to­gether with fel­low broad­caster and writer Susie Bar­rie MW, is co-chair of the stel­lar judg­ing panel of wine lu­mi­nar­ies, which includes Coun­try Life’s wine writer, harry eyres. Mr Clarke de­scribes the com­pe­ti­tion as an ‘in­spir­ing tast­ing,’ laud­ing still wines with ‘in­trigu­ing, orig­i­nal flavours’ and sparkling wines that are ‘quite sim­ply world class, and can now be judged on the same play­ing field as Cham­pagne’.

With the num­bers of tro­phies and gold medals awarded in­creased from last year, it seems that the qual­ity of entries con­tin­ues to rise. The fi­nal tally was 28 gold, 34 sil­ver, and 136 bronze medals. here are a few of the stars.

Other tro­phy win­ners in­clude Coates & Seely Brut Reserve ‘La Per­fide’ 2011 (the fol­low-on vin­tage to last year’s over­all win­ner, £65; www.coate­sand­seely.com); Lyme Bay Pinot Noir Rosé 2017 (£15.99; www.ly­mebay­win­ery.co.uk); Camel Val­ley Pinot Noir Rosé Brut 2015 (£29.95; www. camel­val­ley.com) and Den­bies Wine es­tate No­ble har­vest 2016 (£24.95 per half bot­tle; www.den­bies.co.uk).

Supreme Cham­pion, Top Sparkling Wine, Top Blanc de Noirs

Wis­ton Es­tate Blanc de Noirs 2010

‘From its stun­ning golden colour to its com­pelling smoky aro­mas, this is ar­guably Eng­land’s finest Blanc de Noirs to date. Sump­tu­ous and mul­ti­lay­ered, with spiced lemon acid­ity and rich savoury un­der­tones, it shows enor­mous fi­nesse and is an ab­so­lute joy to drink’ Si­t­u­ated amid the chalky slopes of the South Downs in West Sus­sex, Wis­ton es­tate has been owned by the Gor­ing fam­ily since 1743. It was Pip Gor­ing who recog­nised the po­ten­tial of the land to grow high-qual­ity grapes and in 2006 she set about plant­ing what is now a 16-acre vine­yard. Since then, Wis­ton has be­come one of the best­known names in english wine, thanks to its dis­tinc­tive coloured la­bels and the skills of ace wine­maker Der­mot Su­grue. The Blanc de Noirs 2010 saw off some spec­tac­u­lar com­pe­ti­tion to be crowned this year’s Supreme Cham­pion. (left, £47; www.wi­s­ton­es­tate.com)

Top Still, Top Sin­gle Va­ri­etal White Chapel Down Kit’s Coty Chardon­nay 2015

‘World class Chardon­nay that demon­strates the qual­ity of still white wines that the UK is ca­pa­ble of pro­duc­ing. Made in the Bur­gun­dian mould, it is ripe, yet savoury, with flavours of white peach and roasted hazel­nuts, along with mouth-wa­ter­ing acid­ity and a won­der­fully long fin­ish.’ A fa­mil­iar name in english wine, Chapel Down now pro­duce an im­pres­sive port­fo­lio of fine wine, spir­its, beer and cider. Chapel Down wines can be found ev­ery­where from the Royal Opera house to the Ox­ford & Cam­bridge Boat Races and the brand is one of the of­fi­cial sup­pli­ers to 10, Down­ing Street. Kit’s Coty is their flag­ship range of sin­gle-vine­yard wines, all made with fruit from the Kit’s Coty vine­yard—one of the old­est plots of agri­cul­tural land in the UK, si­t­u­ated on the pic­turesque Kentish North Downs.

(£30; www.chapel­down.com)

Top Red Pinot Noir Gus­bourne Pinot Noir 2016

‘An ex­tremely stylish and ac­com­plished Pinot Noir made by the bril­liant Char­lie Hol­land at Gus­bourne in Kent. Scented and earthy, with flavours of smoky oak

Bri­tain has an ex­cit­ing fu­ture along­side the world’s clas­sic re­gions

and ripe plum fruit, it is still in the flush of youth, but has the struc­ture to age and de­velop won­der­fully dur­ing the next few years.’ For­mer or­thopaedic sur­geon An­drew Wee­ber es­tab­lished Gus­bourne Es­tate in 2004. Wine­maker and chief ex­ec­u­tive Char­lie Hol­land makes the wines ex­clu­sively from grapes grown on Gus­bourne’s own vine­yards in Kent and West Sus­sex. The Pinot Noir 2016, made with grapes from a sin­gle block in the mid­dle of Gus­bourne’s Boot Hill vine­yard, is a tri­umph of ter­roir and se­lec­tive­ness. ‘Pinot Noir is per­haps one of the hard­est wines you’ll make in this coun­try,’ says Mr Hol­land. ‘We only make it in years when the con­di­tions are right. If we have to mess around with it, it’s not worth mak­ing the wine.’ Gus­bourne also picked up the tro­phy for best sparkling Blanc de Blancs with their 2013 vin­tage. (£29; www.gus­bourne.com)

Top Non-vin­tage Clas­sic Cu­vée Hat­tin­g­ley Val­ley Clas­sic Reserve NV

‘This NV cu­vée, from the ex­cel­lent team at Hat­tin­g­ley Val­ley, is a won­der­fully rounded and sat­is­fy­ing glass of fizz. Par­tial bar­rel fer­men­ta­tion and a min­i­mum of 18 months on its lees has led to a fresh yet bready wine, with a fine mousse and very suc­cu­lent mouth-feel.’ Hat­tin­g­ley Val­ley is a fam­ily-owned pro­ducer in Hamp­shire that spe­cialises in tra­di­tional-method sparkling wine. Es­tab­lished in 2008 by Si­mon and Ni­cola Robin­son, the es­tate now boasts 60 acres of vine­yard across two sites, a spe­cially de­signed ecofriendly win­ery and a daz­zling col­lec­tion of awards for its wines. Head wine­maker Emma Rice is thrilled to see the Clas­sic Reserve pick up its tro­phy, cel­e­brat­ing it as ‘recog­ni­tion for the work the team has put in to mak­ing this wine a high qual­ity and con­sis­tent style that is recog­nis­ably Hat­tin­g­ley’. No doubt she’s equally de­lighted to see its sta­ble­mate, the Kings Cu­vée, awarded the tro­phy for Top Prestige Cu­vée. (£30; www.hat­tin­g­ley­val­ley.co.uk)

Top Bac­chus Nut­bourne Bac­chus 2016

‘A de­light­ful ex­am­ple of Bac­chus, with typical aro­mas of fresh green herbs and spring flow­ers. In the mouth, there’s a per­fect bal­ance of juicy acid­ity with ripe, yel­low fruits, and the fin­ish is re­fresh­ing and vi­brant.’ As a small fam­ily-run wine pro­ducer based in West Sus­sex, Nut­bourne proved a wor­thy com­peti­tor among many of the larger pro­duc­ers that en­tered wines in this class. First planted in 1980, the vine­yard has been un­der the stew­ard­ship of the Glad­win fam­ily since 1991, which has over­seen its de­vel­op­ment into a stand­out boutique pro­ducer. Bac­chus is a hotly con­tested cat­e­gory in the Awards; a once lit­tle-known Ger­man grape va­ri­ety, it has truly found its home on these shores and is reg­u­larly feted as Eng­land’s an­swer to Sau­vi­gnon Blanc. (£13.50; www.nut­bournevine­yards.com) Many vine­yards are open to vis­i­tors for tours and tast­ings

Vine and dandy: Der­mot Su­grue (far right) and Pip Gor­ing (sec­ond from left) saw their Blanc de Noirs named Supreme Cham­pion

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