Historically, eastern European wines have played second fiddle to their better-known equivalents in France, Spain and Italy. But slowly and surely, they are beginning to gain ground, with a huge variety of new styles and grape varieties that provide a welcome break from the norm.
Winemaking in central and eastern Europe has an illustrious history; there’s evidence of grape growing in Moldova as far back as 2800BC, while further south in Georgia and Armenia, archaeologists have uncovered winery artefacts even further back than that, more than 6,000 years ago.
Head to this part of the world and you’ll uncover intriguing grape varieties such as Saperavi, Furmint, Kadarka and Vranac – a far cry from the omnipresent international varieties.
This year’s IWSC results are a wonderful showcase of all that central and eastern Europe wines have to offer, with central Europe dominating the list.
An orange wine from Austrian producer Domäne Baumgartner topped the list this year, scoring 96/100 and earning a Gold medal for its ‘well-balanced palate’ and ‘layers of ripe stone fruit, baked pineapple and a peppery spice.’
Swiss wine made a strong appearance with a Chardonnay from Weingut Johann Schneeberger scoring 95/100 and impressing judges with its notes of ‘perfumed peaches, guava, acacia and honey with nicely vibrant fruit and acidic-balanced lemon and lime.’
The wines from this category were organised by style and colour then judged blind by an expert panel led by Master of Wine Sarah Abbott. Other panel members included fellow Master of Wine Barbara Drew, London wine bar owner Sunny Hodge and Waitrose wine buyer Marien Rodriguez.
Central and eastern Europe has a distinguished winemaking heritage, as well as a treasure trove of unique grape varieties to explore. Here are the finest wines from this year’s IWSC tasting.
How do we judge these wines?
We run a tightly structured, rigorous wine tasting process. That means that each wine sample is pre-poured into numbered glasses and assessed blindly by the judges. Most importantly, our IWSC wine judges are experts in their field, who work across all sectors of the wine industry. For evidence, see our full list of judges.
How do we score these wines?
Only the best wines sampled receive a Gold or Silver award. For example, to win Gold, wines have to score between 95 and 100 points. Meanwhile, Silver wines range from 90 to 94 points. Click here to read more on our scoring system.
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