Last night, two nights after Decanter's similar awards dinner, the International Wine Challenge (IWC) gongs, now under new management, were presented in London in a record time of just over half an hour, much to assembled company's relief. These were the overall champions:
Champion Red - Viñas del Jaro Chafandín 2003
The Chafandín was one of many wines included in the IWC's Discovery Tasting back in May. This wine swept the IWC Chairmen off their feet. They are certain the UK wine consumer would react in the same way were they given the opportunity to purchase it. Currently no UK stockists.
Champion White - Guru 2004 Wine & Soul
This is a subtle, understated, elegant and beautifully-made wine which demonstrates that Portugal can make brilliant, dry white wine to rival some of the world's greatest. This is a wine made from Portuguese varieties, not the usual 'international' suspects. UK Stockists – C&D Wines £17.This wine has also won the James Rogers Trophy (see below).
Champion Sweet - Weingut Günther Bardorf Randersackerer Sonnenstuhl Riesling Eiswein 2002
To think that the 2002 vintage was the first year this wine was produced is a testament to Weingut Günther Bardorf. It has all the hallmarks of quality eiswein with fantastic concentration, showing dried nectarines and peach fruit. Yet again the IWC has awarded a Champion title to a wine which has yet to find a stockist in the UK.
Champion Fortified - Quinta do Portal Vintage Port 2003
It was only a matter of time before Quinta do Portal claimed the IWC's ultimate accolade. With a gold in 2003, 3 silvers in 2004 and a gold in 2005, the Champion Fortified award in 2006 caps off an impressive period for this fine Port producer.UK Stockists - Charles Hawkins, Great Western Wine Company Ltd and The Wineman Ltd (price £26.20)
The Daniel Thibault Trophy (Champion Sparkling) - Taittinger, Comtes de Champagne Blanc de Blancs 1996
The Champagne and sparkling wine category is one of the toughest categories within the International Wine Challenge. Our tasters are privileged to sample some of Champagne's finest, and not just from the most recent vintages either. All this makes success for Champagne Taittinger all the sweeter.UK Stockists – Thresher £105
The James Rogers Trophy (best wine in its 1st year of production) - Guru 2004 Wine & Soul
For the 3rd year in a row this award has gone to a Portuguese producer but for the first time it has been awarded to a Portuguese white wine. Are we seeing the renaissance of Portuguese whites? The IWC results for this category would lead us to believe so, with no Gold or silver in 2004, 1 silver in 2005 and 3 gold and 6 silver in 2006. No UK stockists
The Len Evans Trophy (consistent performance over past 5 years) - Alois Kracher
Since 2002, Kracher has submitted 62 wines and received 2 trophies, 7 gold, 15 silver, 24 bronze, 10 seals. In fact, only 4 wines of the total submitted have not received medals. Although recognised as one of the world's finest sweet wine producers, Alois Kracher's talents are much broader. In 2005, his Illmitz Zweigelt was awarded the Austrian Red Trophy.
In the UK, Kracher wines are stocked by Noel Young.
Wine Merchant of the Year Awards were also announced at the event:
Wine Merchant of the Year – Berry Brothers & Rudd
Supermarket of the Year – Waitrose
High Street Merchant of the Year – Majestic
Independent Merchant of the Year – Berry Brothers & Rudd
Small Independent Merchant of the Year – Stone, Vine & Sun, Winchester
Agent of the Year – Bibendum
Innovator of the Year – The Thresher Group
Wine Makers of the Year were announced as:
Sweet Wine Makers - Alois Kracher – Kracher
Sparkling Wine Makers of the Year - Claude Taittinger - Champagne Taittinger
Fortified Wine Makers of the Year - Francisco Alberquerque – Cossart Gordon
White Wine Makers of the Year - Andrew Wiggan – Peter Lehmann Wines
Red Wine Makers of the Year - Joanne Irvine – Irvine Wines
Finally, Michel Rolland was named Wine Personality of the Year.
The four IWC co-chairmen – Charles Metcalfe, Tim Atkin MW, Derek Smedley MW & Sam Harrop MW – welcome a new talent to their ranks. Joining them next year will be a new international co-chairman, Michael Fridjhon, one of South Africa's leading wine writers and a highly experienced international wine judge. This guest position will be filled by a different, high profile individual each year.
A full list of trophy and champion award winners may be found at www.internationalwinechallenge.com