The English & Welsh Wine of the Year Competition 2007 was judged by a panel of six Masters of Wine chaired by Patricia Stefanowicz MW on Monday and Tuesday this week in Shrewsbury despite torrential downpours and floods – the less acceptable sign of the climate change that is generally benefiting English wine.
The results have just been released with these overall comments from the chairman: "It has been a fascinating competition. We agreed unanimously that the main stars of the show were rosés – both still and sparkling - and sparkling whites. In fact, the top winner this year is a sparkling rosé. This style clearly works well in England. Two areas to note in the still wine section are both single varietals: the most outstanding single varietal was Bacchus, whilst Pinot Noir stood out as the best of the reds." Pinot Noir for the first time this year was judged as a single flight."
Earlier vintage wines overall showed better than the 2006 vintage – partly due to a more difficult year last year, compared with earlier vintages. The 2005 vintage wines showed particularly well apparently.
The top accolade, the Gore-Browne Trophy for the Wine of the Year, was awarded to Camel Valley Vineyard for their sparkling rosé Camel Valley, Cornwall Pinot Noir Rosé 2004 which also gained the Vintners' Trophy for Best Sparkling Wine. The much anticipated McAlpine Winemaker of the Year award was this year won by Sam Lindo of Camel Valley Vineyard, who receives this award for the first time. Sam, son of Camel Valley's founder Bob Lindo, has been working in the family business of a number of years, and trained in New Zealand.
Chapel Down Bacchus Reserve 2005 (already praised here) won both the Wine Guild Trophy for Best Wine of Other Year's Vintage and the Tom Day Trophy for Best Single Varietal Wine.
Although fewer wines from the 2006 vintage featured in the line up of medals, there were some that earned notable awards. The trophy winner in this category – the Jack Ward Memorial Trophy - was won by Astley Vineyard, Severn Vale 2006.
The Bernard Theobald Trophy for Best Red Wine was awarded to Sandhurst Vineyard Pinot Noir 2004. Another red wine, Denbies Redlands 2004 won the somewhat cumbersomely-named English Wine Producers Dudley Quirk Trophy Best Wine Produced in Commercial Quantites.
The Waitrose Rosé Trophy went to a new vineyard entering its wines for the first time this year, the memorably named Polgoon Vineyard near Penzance – more glory for Cornwall. Another first time trophy winner this year was Suffolk's Ickworth Vineyard, Walled Garden White 2005 won the President's Trophy for Best Small Production.
Unlike me when I last tasted a range of English wines, the judges were particularly impressed by the oaked wines and gave every single oaked wine entered in the competition an award! The McNie Trophy for Best Oaked White was won by Wickham Vineyard, Special Release Fumé 2006. The competition's newest trophy, the tellingly named Berwick Trophy for Best Unchaptalised Wine was won by Wroxeter Roman Vineyard Madeleine Angevine 2005.
Pebblebed Vineyards Rosé 2006 from Devon took The Montagu Trophy for Best Presentation thanks to its distinctive black and white photograph on the label.
The judges made an award to 68 per cent of all of the record number of entries - eight golds, 13 silvers, 61 bronzes and 60 highly commended wines - which seems a mite generous to me. A full list of the awards is available in the competitions section of the English Wine Producers website www.englishwineproducers.com.