The top wines of the year were announced by the IWSC today as it published the 30 trophy winners that stole the show in this year’s judging.
The standout wines came from all corners of the globe, including Australia, France, Hungary and South Africa, with the sparkling and fortified wine categories receiving the highest number of trophies. Producers in the northern hemisphere had a particularly successful year, taking home three-quarters of the total number of trophies.
Judges are strict but fair
IWSC Trophies are assessed by a panel made up of the competition’s most senior and experienced judges. This year the panel included three members of the IWSC’s Wine Judging Committee – John Hoskins MW, Alex Hunt MW and Dirceu Vianna Junior MW – as well as Freddy Bulmer of the Wine Society, Elizabeth Kelly MW, Alistair Cooper MW and sommelier and restaurateur Isa Bal MS.
“The standard of judges invited to participate in this competition is very high… Judges are strict but fair,” said Dirceu Vianna Junior MW. The judges are responsible for re-tasting each Gold medal-winning wine for final endorsement. Only Gold medal-winning wines are then put forward to contest the overall trophy in their category. Below are some of the highlights from this year’s judging.
Australian Fortified Wines
Australia put in a very strong performance this year, winning five trophies overall. Among these were two top Chardonnays – Bird in Hand’s 2017 TED Edward Andrew from Adelaide Hills and Castelli Estate’s 2018 Il Liris from Denmark, Western Australia.
But it was the country’s fortified wines, often a much-overlooked category, that really stood out with Wine Judging Committee member Alex Hunt MW praising their “haunting complexity and balance, which was particularly evident in wines such as Morris of Rutherglen’s Cellar Reserve Gran Muscat and Stanton & Killen’s Gran Muscat.”
English Sparkling Wine and Champagne
Reflecting on the results, Chair Judge Alastair Cooper MW praised “another cool-climate success story, via its high-voltage, genuinely thrilling sparkling wines.” ‘It’ is, of course, England. And the fact that English sparkling wines such as Black Chalk’s Classic Brut 2016 are rubbing shoulders with Grande Marque Champagnes such as Lanson’s Noble Cuvée Brut 2002 proves how far English fizz has come.
“South Africa continues to impress, as it has done over the past decade,” said Cooper, who found that wines from Stellenbosch really stole the show with the “fantastic and diverse styles of Cabernet Sauvignon it yields, not least the stellar Bartinney 2015 Banghoek Cabernet.”
It wasn’t just single varietals that won over the judges, however. One blend from Stellenbosch that took home a trophy was Quoin Rock’s Red Blend 2015, a marriage of Bordeaux varieties that wooed the judges.