French winemakers received an impressive 445 medals, more than any other country and way ahead of the second and third place countries: Australia with a total of 393 medals and Portugal with 181. In addition, France was awarded more Gold medals than any other country – 23 (one more than Australia).
Within France, Champagne and Burgundy were the dominant regions, collecting eight Gold medals each.
Charles Heidsieck led the way for Champagne, collecting four Golds, while Chablis producer William Fèvre proved to be the leading producer in Burgundy, also with four Gold medals.
William Fèvre’s Chablis Grand Cru Vaudésir 2016 was the joint highest scoring wine in the competition with 97 points. The other 97-pointer was also made from Chardonnay – the McGuigan Shortlist Chardonnay 2015 from Australia.
30% of Golds go to Chardonnay
The ABC (“Anything But Chardonnay”) era is now drawing to an end, as demonstrated by the landslide success of the grape with nearly 30% of all Gold medals awarded going to Chardonnay wines, including the two highest scoring wines in the competition.
One of the countries that has been working particular hard to demonstrate the elegance and precision of the grape is Australia; of all the non-sparkling Chardonnays that were awarded Gold, Australia led the way with eight, while France – typically the standard-bearer for vinous excellence, especially for its white Burgundy – brought in six. Other countries to bring home Gold were New Zealand, South Africa and Japan – the country’s only Gold.
Fortifying times for supermarket wines
It’s been well documented that UK supermarkets are working hard to improve the quality of their own-label wine, bringing in expert buying teams including MWs to help select the best wine for their customers. It looks like this tactic is proving to be successful given the impressive selection of supermarket own brands that won the highly coveted IWC Gold medal.
Overall, 11 of the Gold medals in the competition went to UK supermarkets, spanning all categories bar rosé.
The fortified category was the one that most impressed for the supermarket own brands. Marks & Spencer bringing in two top gongs for its own-label Sherry and Port made by Emilio Lustau and Taylor’s respectively, while Waitrose brought in one Gold for its Palo Cortado, also made by Lustau.
Marks & Spencer’s Delacourt Champagne 2004
Aldi Artisan Tasmanian Chardonnay 2016
Tesco Finest Cantina Valpantena Amarone 2015
Tesco Finest Fratelli Martini Secondo Luigi Barolo 2014
Morrison’s Baron de Ley The Best Marques de los Rios Rioja Gran Reserva 2012
Waitrose – Kopke Colheita Tawny Port 1999
Aldi – Barao de Vilar Vinhos Maynard’s LBV Port 2014
Aldi – Barao de Vilar Vinhos Maynard’s 30 Year Old Tawny NV
Marks & Spencer’s Special Vintage Port 2007 by Taylor’s
Waitrose Palo Cortado “Torre del Oro” NV by Emilio Lustau
Marks & Spencer’s Very Rare Palo Cortado NV by Emilio Lustau
England and France the only countries to win Gold medals for sparkling wines
While Champagne dominated the sparkling wine category, England was the only other country whose wines were deemed Gold-worthy. Both Ridgeview from Sussex and Raimes from Hampshire were awarded Gold with 95 points for their Blanc de Blancs 2014 and Classic Brut 2014 respectively.
No other sparkling wine from any other region scored Gold.
Charles Metcalfe, co-chair, said:
“England and France are the only Gold medal winners among sparkling wines! That is amazing, and shows the astonishing improvements English producers have achieved over the past few years, battling head-to-head with Champagne.”