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