The 2020 Sommelier Wine Awards celebrates wines from across the globe

The results of the Sommelier Wine Awards 2020 are in, revealing the competition’s most diverse line-up of winning wines to date. The UK’s leading on-trade wine competition has seen some of the fastest-growing trends in the industry come to light, with stand-out entries from categories including orange wines, Semillon and Japanese wines, with a record year for Ribera del Duero and less prominent sparkling wines.

Stand-out regions in this year’s competition included Spain’s Ribera del Duero, with a record-year of 37 awards and 80% of entrants taking home a medal. Chilean Sauvignon Blanc producers, namely from Leyda Valley, were unexpected stars amongst the judges, commended for their refined style, which stood head and shoulders above the other Sauvignon Blancs tasted from Chile.

As well as Chilean wine, many other New World wines enjoyed the spotlight. This year saw Japanese wine represented for a second year, with even more entries this year, and every Koshu taking home a medal, including one Gold. Red wines from Australia and Argentina made a name for themselves by experimenting with different grape varietals and blends, regarded highly amongst the judges for moving away from oak and often high price points. As a result, they received more Gold medals than ever before.

Although quality Prosecco and Champagne continue to perform well, this year saw less prominent fizzes on the rise, with Crémants, frizzantes, Franciacortas, Cavas and New World sparkling wines, all performing extremely well.

Sicilian wines were praised by judges for their quality and affordability, with a third of the red wines entered at under £10. Greek reds have increased considerably in quality according to the judges, with the country receiving almost 50% more Gold medals since 2019. Wine entries from Alsace and Germany were applauded for their compatibility with food. These two categories are always big hits amongst the judges, leaving them thirsty for even more entries.

Grapes performing fantastically well at this year’s awards included New World Semillon, with over 85% of entries receiving a medal. Many other unique trends emerged from the awards this year and are expected to grow in the coming months, including orange wine, now a category in its own rights for a second year, was very warmly welcomed by the judges, paving the way for modern and interesting wines that have not previously been frequently represented in the on-trade. A huge trend across beer and spirits, the no and low category has begun to gain traction within wine, with the competition showing that it is moving in the right direction and the trend expected to see further growth in response to consumer appetite.

Speaking about the 2020 awards, Micaela Martins Ferreira, Competition Director, commented: “A huge congratulations to all our medal winners. Year-on-year there is such a high standard of wines, it’s so fantastic to see entries spanning all corners of the globe, and with diversity, this year, really shining through.

“Covid-19 has had a huge impact on the industry, and when it bounces back, which I’m sure it will, there is an incredibly strong line up of wines available to the hospitality sector. I look forward to seeing these trends develop over the next 12 months and in particular, can’t wait to see some of the exceptional wines tasted during this year’s SWA appearing on wine lists across the UK.”

SWA, now in its fourteenth year, is judged by Master Sommeliers, Masters of Wines and some of the best names in the world of wine, including Director of Wine at Ten Trinity Square, Jan Konetzki; Wine Development Manager at Le Cordon Bleu, Matthieu Longuère MS; and Director at Vinoteca, Charlie Young.

In light of the worldwide pandemic, the Sommelier Wine Awards will be donating £5,000 to The Drinks Trust – a charity which provides support, care and assistance to the drinks industry workforce, who need support now, more than ever.

All winning wines from the Sommelier Wine Awards 2020 can be found on www.sommelierwineawards.com

 

26th Grand International Wine Awards Mundus Vini Spring Tasting 2020

The Mundus Vini wine awards are held in Neustadt an der Weinstrasse, in the heart of the Palatinate region in the Pfalz, south of Frankfurt every spring.  268 wine experts from 54 countries gathered at the 6-day tasting in February to blind taste and assess around 7500 wines from 45 countries. Jenny Ratcliffe-Wright, Cape Wine Master, was invited to be a judge for another year in a row and this time as Canada’s first-panel chair.

Over the days of tasting, Ratcliffe-Wright chaired a panel with judges from Germany, Australia, Russia, Ukraine and Portugal who tasted wines from 11 countries.  Garnacha based red blends from Germany and Spain showed solid quality with very few faulty bottles or winemaking faults. A flight of Sauvignon Blanc from Trentino and Veneto in Italy and white blends from various regions in Italy showed good varietal character, while the blends highlighted the great quality of white wines coming out of Italy recently, being super easy to every day drinkers to enjoy.

The Pinot Noir flight from Chile and New Zealand was outstanding with judges awarding many medals.  Merlot from various Spanish regions ranging from La Mancha to Catalonia was solid without too many surprises.

The sparkling wine and Prosecco flight from Italy and Germany showed wines that were whistle clean and market-ready.  Rioja from Spain was interesting in that there were many different styles from the region, but in general, the quality was very high.

The Shiraz and Shiraz blends from South Australia showed beautiful balance and fruit.  There was a Pinot Gris flight from Germany, Australia, New Zealand, the USA, Serbia and North Macedonia, while being from a wide range of countries, the grape showed its character and it was obvious why this varietal is so popular worldwide.

Chenin Blanc from various regions in South Africa from Swartland to Walker Bay was promising with a wild card of a Chenin Blanc from Armenia included in the lineup and that had been blended with Aligoté and Kangun.

Valpolicella Ripasso from Northern Italy was an interesting flight with many excellent wines.

Each judge is measured daily on a tasting and scoring graph against their peers to ensure precision of tasting without too much deviation and to ensure consistency.

Christian Wolf, tasting director for Mundus Vini said: “We can see purely by the figures and the feedback from our tasters that the level of quality has risen considerably this year.”

Australia emerged from the competition as number one in the overseas category with a total of 72 medals with Kilikanoon Wines being named, once again, the best Australian winery with 19 medals. South Africa came in 2nd of the wines from overseas with 55 medals and Argentina 3rd with 49. The best Argentinian winery was Gruppo Peñaflor who received a total of 11 medals

Some of the top-rated wines of the show were:

2016 Kilikanoon Oracle Shiraz (Best of show, Australia red)

2018 Jaraman Chardonnay (best of show Australia white)

2016 DeWetshof Estate The Site Chardonnay (best of show South Africa white)

2016 Kleine Zalze Family Reserve Shiraz (Best of Show, South Africa red)

2015 Felipe Staiti Honor (Best of show Argentina)

For the European wines, Italy scored the most medal with 658 with Spain a close second with 631 and France with 325.

“It was an exciting tasting this year to see high quality from so many regions and a privilege to judge with so many accomplished international palates.” Says Jenny.  “I look forward to judging in the competition again next year.”

Jenny Ratcliffe-Wright

British Columbia’s Okanagan Fall Wine Festival – Virginia Hutton

 I attended the Okanagan Fall Festival this year, along with five other notable Canadian journalists to experience Canada’s premier Fall Wine Festival. This year’s fall wine Okanagan Fall Wine Festival connected wine lovers to winemakers from the region with events designed to celebrate their unique and award-winning wines.

Located in southern British Columbia, the Okanagan Valley is one of the warmest regions in Canada, with an average winter temperature of -8 C and 28 C in the summer – it’s slightly cooler than eastern France. The Valley and its wine industry have matured tremendously over the last 30 years, boasting 280 wineries and offering visitors the opportunity to experience one of the world’s premier wine and culinary destinations.

This year’s Okanagan Fall Wine Festival included the province’s most prestigious and oldest wine competition, The British Columbia Lieutenant Governor’s Wine Awards (BCLGWA) held at the historic Laurel Heritage Packinghouse in Kelowna. There were more than 700 entries in this year’s competition. The Wine of the Year Award went to Deep Roots Winery’s for their 2017 Syrah, representing consistency in a varietal and a combination of superb grapes and winemaking.

Also part of the Festival was the Fall WestJet Wine Tasting at YLW in the Carson Air Hangar. It is Kelowna’s largest indoor wine-tasting event, with over 40 wineries serving up their most popular varieties. Guests were entertained by a live DJ and sampled cuisine from around the world from food trucks parked outside the hanger.  Joined by Canadian wine experts and journalists Gurvinder Bhatia, Darren Oleksyn and Tim Pawsey, we sipped our way from Lake Country in the north to Osoyoos – Canada’s only desert, in the south. Our tour included meeting the talented winemakers behind O’Rourke’s Peak Cellars, 50th Parallel Estate, Indigenous World Winery, Fitzpatrick Family Vineyards, Burrowing Owl Estate Winery, Moon Curser Vineyards, Nk’Mip Cellars, Nobel Ridge Vineyard & Winery, Wild Goose Vineyards and Time Winery.

Over 90% of the Okanagan wineries have earned the British Columbia Vintners Quality Alliance, or BC VQA designation – similar to the AOC and DOC systems utilized in France and Italy respectively, which guarantees the origin and ensures qualifying wines meet certain minimum quality requirements. BC VQA wines are made from 100% BC grapes, and are free from certain potential faults, and the labels include where the grapes are grown and the wine is produced. And, many Okanagan winemakers have embraced environmentally friendly, lower-energy wine-making methods and built sustainability and philanthropy into their business models, with many using solar energy, gravity flow to move the juice and composting to replenish nutrients in the soil. 

According to Wines of British Columbia, there are over 80 grape varieties being grown in BC, with 51% being red varietals and 49% white varietals. The most notable reds include: merlot, pinot noir, cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc, syrah / shiraz and gamay noir, with top notable white being: pinot gris, chardonnay, gewürztraminer, riesling, sauvignon blanc, pinot blanc and viognier. Several winemakers are taking advantage of the recent growth in sparkling wines and are now producing white and rose varieties. The Region is also is well-known for producing high-quality, award winning icewines, with Inniskillen, Okanagan Estates and Whistler receiving Gold Medals, and Nk’Mip and Jackson Triggs Okanagan being awarded Silver Medals at the 2019 Wine Align Awards.

 

 

With Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter Wine Festivals, it’s always a great time to visit and enjoy world-class award-winning wine and dining experiences. It’s worth the trip to Okanagan Wine Festivals.

 

 

Wineries visited:

O’Rourke’s Peak Cellars 

50th Parallel Estate

Indigenous World Winery

Fitzpatrick Family Vineyards

Burrowing Owl Estate Winery

Moon Curser Vineyards

Nk’Mip Cellars

Nobel Ridge Vineyard & Winery

Wild Goose Vineyards

Time Winery

British Columbia’s Okanagan Wine Festivals
http://www.thewinefestivals.com

British Columbia’s Two (Award-Winning) Indigenous Wineries – Virginia Hutton

During my visit to Okanagan in October, I attended the Fall Okanagan Wine Festival, and also had the opportunity to visit British Columbia’s two Indigenous wineries.

50 Years ago, the first aboriginal winery in Canada, Nk’Mip Cellars was launched by former Osoyoos Indian Band Chief Sam Baptiste. Osoyoos, in British Columbia’s, (BC) Okanagan region is Canada’s only desert and its sandy soils are used for growing 40% Okanagan wines.

The Okanagan region is located in the rain shadow of the Cascade Mountains and has a dry and mild climate with no month having a below 0°C average temperature. The summers are hot and dry with temperatures occasionally topping 40 °C.

Nk’Mip Cellars, (pronounced ‘inkameep’), located on the Osoyoos Indian Reserve,is part of the development including the Hyatt’s Spirit Ridge Hotel, and the Sonora Dunes Golf Course. Owned by the Osoyoos Indian Band, Nk’Mip was the first Indigenous-owned winery in North America and is ideally located, having been rated a class 1 site according to 1984 Atlas of Suitable Grape Growing Atlas in the Okanagan, and Similkameen Valleys. Justin Hall, a member of the Osoyoos Indian band and current Winemaker arrived in 2004. Nk’Mip Cellars was awarded the 2016 Intervin Winery of the Year and #2 Winery in BC in 2018 from Wine Align. Nk’Mip varieties include: Pinot Noir, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Riesling, Chardonnay, Pinot Blanc, Rose, and Ice Wine.

The Osoyoos Indian Band leases the majority of their 380 acres in the Okanagan, with 60 acres producing Nk’Mip’s 18,000 cases annually. Distribution extends to Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba.

The second Indigenous winery, Indigenous World Winery, is owned by Robert Louie, former Chief of the Westbank First Nation and his wife Bernice. They are descendants of the original Sylix people of Okanagan. Located in West Kelowna, Indigenous World Winery has produced a number of award-winning wines, most recent, winning one silver and 2 bronze awards at the 2019 Wine Align National Wine Awards of Canada. Varieties include: Cabernet Sauvignon, Gamay, Pinot Auxerrois, Cabernet Franc, Pinot Gris, Gewürztraminer, Viognier, Merlot, Marechal Foch, Chardonnay, Muscat.

With 5 leased properties and 2.5 acres of estate land, Indigenous World Winery produces just over 10,000 cases annually, primarily for the BC and Alberta markets.

Indigenous tourism is booming in British Columbia, allowing visitors the opportunity to explore indigenous culture and engage with communities they might not otherwise connect with. The Okanagan Region’s beautiful landscapes, rich history, wonderful hospitality, and award-winning wines deliver an outstanding experience for all wine lovers!

For further information:

Nk’Mip Cellars
http://www.nkmipcellars.com/

Indigenous World Winery
https://www.indigenousworldwinery.com/

Okanagan Wine Festivals Society
http://www.TheWineFestivals.com

 

MILLÉSIME BIO 2020 – Pérols, France

International wine Journalists, winemakers, wine marketers, and researchers will head to the south of France January 27-29 2020 for the only trade show dedicated to organic wine.

With green issues and climate change increasingly at the forefront of consumers’ purchasing choices, the importance of organic and biodynamic viticulture has never been more evident. This makes Millésime Bio more relatable than ever.

The 2020 event will introduce the addition of beer and cider makers and is set to be the trade show’s largest event ever. The organizers have increased the space to accommodate the increased number of wineries and businesses delving into the world of organics. Therefore, a fifth hall has been opened to house a further 100 exhibitors.

For 2020 Millésime Bio will take place over three days from 27 to 29 January 2020 at the Montpellier Exhibition Centre in Pérols.

There will be a free-pour area fitted with enotecas that will offer guests the chance to taste wines that have won medals in the annual international Millésime Bio competition. The Challenge Millésime Bio is one of the world’s largest organic wine competitions, which includes a judging panel made up of wine experts and senior buyers, chaired by Jean-Luc Rabanel, the head chef of the two-Michelin-starred restaurant l’Atelier in Arles and founder of the ‘Greenstronomie’ movement.

The fair will also run masterclasses and seminars, with particular attention to organic winemaking, but also changing trends and issues affecting the wider wine trade, including business and marketing.

“It’s safe to say our fair is in very good shape and continues to gather momentum,” Patrick Guiraud, president of Millésime Bio, said.

“This year, we wanted to offer the opportunity for more exhibitors to take part. They’ve been quick to secure their stands and we’ve even had to open a waiting list in September.”

Event Details:

The opening party, organized by SudVinBio, will take place on Monday 27 January.
27 January 2020 from 10am to 7pm
28 January 2020 from 9am to 7pm
29 January 2020 from 9am to 5pm

Address:
Montpellier Exhibition Centre (Parc des Expositions de Montpellier), Route de la Foire, 34470 Pérols, France

Website:
https://www.millesime-bio.com/en