Judging a wine means different things to different people. For many it all comes down to what it tastes like, for others how it is made is just as important. Then there is the price which for lots of consumers will determine whether the wine is considered at all. That’s before we get on to what the wine label looks like. The first London Wine Competition looked to cover all those bases, plus one more – drinkability. Here are the results of its first year of awards.
London was the host city for this new global wine competition that judges wines on how good they are to look at as well to drink, with Australia’s Idyll Wine Company coming out on top.
There are so many international wine competitions it’s hard to find a new angle that is genuinely relevant for producers to enter, and for retailers and restaurants to want to promote the winners.
The London Wine Competition believes it has the answer to both those conundrums. Its competition is not just about the quality of the wine, often only blind tasted with no consideration to the packaging or price. Instead it looks to put itself in the shoes of the consumer staring up at the so-called wall of wine in the average supermarket or page after page of endless wines in a wine list.
What makes a wine stand out to them. Yes, they want to buy a quality wine, but for it to even get into their hands it needs to do two things very well. Offer value for money and be at a price they can afford, and they need to look right. The packaging, the label design, the look and feel of the bottle all plays a significant part in determining which wines get picked out to buy, and which ones stay on the shelf.
Then finally it all comes down to what it tastes like. Which for the average wine drinker does not involve a scientific breakdown of the wine, but comes down to how drinkable it is and do I want another glass?
All these considerations and criteria are what the winning wines in the London Wine Competition are based upon. With crucially different scores given for each part of the judging process, as follows:
- Quality Score: marked out of 50
- Value Score: marked out of 25
- Packaging/Design Score: marked out of 25
Wines that scored 90+ points were awarded Gold medals, while wines that scored 76 to 89 points were awarded Silver medals.
Which brings us to the winners in the competition’s inaugural awards, based on the judging which took place in London on March 8-9.
In all 16 wines from all over the world – including five from Australia and four from Italy – were awarded a Gold medal and 137 received Silver medals.
The top scoring wine was Arcadian Shiraz from Idyll Wine Co. in Australia, was named the “Wine of the Year.” The wine comes from Australia’s Moorabool Valley, in Victoria, which has been making wines since 1966 and was one of the first vineyards to be planted in the area following the decimation of the local wine industry by the phylloxera epidemic in the late 19th century.
Of the Gold medal wines two came from the UK, a Blanc de Blanc from Hoffman & Rathbone (number five in the Top 10 overall wines) and Raimes Classic English Sparkling (10th highest scoring wine overall).
The London Wine Competition was launched in 2017 by the Beverage Trade Network, which organises wine industry events all over the world. Sid Patel, chief executive, said: “At all the major competitions, wines are judged solely on the quality of what’s in the bottle. We wanted to take a different approach, by asking our judges to look at wines the way wine drinkers do, adding appearance and value for money into the mix.
“The best-tasting wines in the world won’t attract the attention of consumers unless the packaging design and price point appeal to wine drinkers. People buy wines with their eyes first, and that puts a real premium on wines that are able to offer an attractive presentation, everything from the label to the brand perception. Including all three factors into the judging process produces results that are closer to the reality of the way consumers purchase wines and gives winemakers better feedback on how their wines are perceived by wine drinkers.”
Judges were asked to taste and score wines on a blind basis initially before seeing bottles and marking them for on-shelf appeal as well as value for money. This enabled them to come up with a score that reflects their overall drinkability.
The judges included many leading Master sommeliers and senior on-trade buyers including:
- Mathias Camilleri MS, head sommelier, The Five Fields
- Anna Botting, head sommelier, Murano (pictured above)
- Stefano Pasqual, head sommelier, Gordon Ramsay
- Piotr Pietras, head sommelier, 85 Sommelier
- Clement Robert MS, head sommelier, 28-50 restaurant group
- Michael Raebel, head sommelier, Rosewood Hotel
- Julien Sarrasin, head sommelier, Club Gascon
- Greg Sherwood MW, Handford Wines
- David Vareille, head sommelier, The Arts Club
- Tom Hunt, Hawsmoor
- Tom Gilbey MW, The Vintner
- Tim Hanni MW, wine consultant
- Here is the full list of judges.
Wine of the Year
Arcadian Shiraz, Idyll Wine Co (Australia)
London Wine Competition Gold medal winners:
Arcadian Shiraz, Idyll Wine Co (Australia)
Cuvee Pazo Pondal, Pazo Pondal (Spain)
Jarno Rosso, Castorani (Italy)
Old Vine Shiraz, Cape Barren Wines (Australia)
Blanc de Blanc, Hoffmann & Rathbone (Great Britain)
RedHeads Whip-Hand, Direct Wines Production (Australia)
Luna Vineyards 2016 Chardonnay, Napa Valley, Luna Vineyards (USA)
Cabernet Sauvignon IGP Château Vartely, Château Vartely (Moldova)
Offida DOCG Rosso, Velenosi Vini (Italy)
Classic Raimes English Sparkling (Great Britain)
Blue Pyrenees Setion One Shiraz, Blue Pyrenees Estate (Australia)
Nero d’Avola IGT Terre Siciliane, When in Rome Wine Ltd (Italy)
Rosé Champagne Trésor de France (France)
Shaw Vineyard Estate 2015 Shiraz, Shaw Vineyard Estate (Australia)
Winemakers Collection Nelson \’Sweet Agnes’\ Riesling, Seifried Estate (New Zealand)
Podere Castorani Reserva, Castorani (Italy)
Highlights of the London Wine Competition Silver medal winners:
Pazo Pondal, Pazo Pondal (Spain)
Chardonnay, Imagery Estate Winery (USA)
Pietro Marini Torrontes, Bodega El Transito (Tres-N SRL) (Argentina)
Ingelheim Spätburgunder Alte Reben VDP Ortswein, J.Neus (Germany)
I.G.T Il Ritrovo, La Casa di Bricciano (Italy)
Moscato D’Asti – Rinadli, AZ. AGR. Rinaldi Vini Di Andrea Rinaldi (Italy)
Eclipse Chardonnay, Luna Estate (New Zealand)
Grevino Pinot Noir, Ca’Del Grevino (USA)
Terroir Series- Chardonnay, Alexana Winery (USA)
Gilbert by Simon Gilbert Late Harvest Riesling, The Gilbert Family Wine Company Pty Ltd (Australia)
For a full list of the Silver Medal winners, please see: www.londonwinecompetition.com
* The London Wine Competition will return in 2019. For more information on how to take part go to www.londonwinecompetition.com