The great and the good of the global Champagne and sparkling wine industry were at Vintners Hall in London on Thursday night for the Champagne & Sparkling Wine World Championships awards dinner. Michelin Star chef Roger Jones was on the head table next to overall winner Richard Geoffroy, chef de cave of Dom Perignon, to celebrate the very best in all that sparkles in the world.
There are three key criteria that makes the Champagne & Sparkling Wine World Championships so credible: only three judges, availability and, yes, size really does matter. Here Roger Jones picks out the highlights and we list the full line up of winners on the night.
This seems to be the season of awards, the latest of which was the Champagne & Sparkling Wine World Championships (CSWWC ) held at The Vintners Hall on Thursday night and our intrepid reporter, Michelin Star chef Roger Jones was invited along as a guest to mingle with some of the most powerful people in the sparkling wine industry.
Did he get starstruck whilst sat next to Richard Geoffroy who acted as wine waiter topping his glass up with Dom Perignon 1998 P2 from magnum? Not a bit. This was not a night to use a spittoon. The P2 is the re branding for the Oenotheque series, which continues in the format of re-releasing old vintages. P2 reflects the wine’s second ‘plentitude’.
This was first released in the UK at Fera in July 2014. On Thursday evening this was awarded The Supreme World Champion award, following in the footsteps of Louis Roederer 2002 Cristal from magnum that won last year.
The wine itself is still so fresh and vibrant, but has that classic DP flavour profile, gorgeous fruit, white cherries, anise, clementine – it’s a fabulous wine. I have the ’92, ’93 and ’95 Oenotheque in my cellar and am tempted to indulge in one of those over the weekend.
English sparkling did very well on the night again in large format with Nyetimber 2009 Classic Cuvée from Jeroboam wining Best English Sparkling Wine, and Hattingley 2011 Blanc de Blancs from magnum winning The World Champion Classic Blanc de Blancs Brut.
There was one oddity on the evening with Chandon Argentina NV Rosé winning the World Champion Classic Rosé Brut award, where clearly the samples provided for the judging showcased rather better than the ones we tried on Thursday evening.
The Roederer Estate NV Rosé (called Quartet in UK) and the Charles Heidsieck Rosé Reserve, on the other hand, showed superbly at our table.
It was good too to see Italy being showcased for their sparkling wines from Trentino, with Ferrari Lunelli wining the Sparkling Wine Producer of the year, and it was wonderful to meet the Lunelli family, Mateo and Camilla.
So what is so different about Tom Stevenson’s ‘Oscars’ to the sparkling wine industry?
There are a few key strategies, which highlight the credibility of these awards, which were set up in 2014.
First and foremost there are only three judges, Tom Stevenson, Essi Avellan MW and Tony Jordan, who are up there with the finest specialist tasters of sparkling wine in the world. There is also a First Reserve Judge, George Markus, who tastes all the wines but does not score unless one of the judges falls ill or cannot judge due to conflict of interest.
Secondly, and in Tom’s own words, “We are quite relaxed about availability, we have no draconian restrictions, there are no minimum production levels or stock availability. We demand only that the wines must be available for purchase somewhere. The CSWWC is a competition that seeks out the very best sparkling wines wherever they happen to be available and however restricted that availability is.”
He adds: “It’s our mission not just to promote world class wines, but also to discover and reward new and exciting wines from established and emerging regions across the world.
“We also want to encourage those that produce Bronze level quality wines from emerging regions or established regions with very little history of sparkling wine production. It’s very hard for them to gauge how they are progressing when they have no local competition of world-class quality. This is where the CSWWC brings added value, providing them with feedback and consistent, objective and authoritative assessment from the same three sparkling wine specialists each year.”
Thirdly, and this was of great interest, is that bottle size matters and awards are given to specific bottle sizes and cannot be applied to other formats in the range, highlighting how good Champagne is in larger formats. This was quite apparent in a major award to AR Lenoble 2008 Grand Cru Chouilly Champagne en Magnum, which received The Chairman’s Trophy, where clearly Tom stated that he disliked the oxidative style that the bottle has but in magnum it has no oxidative aromas and is “deliciously fresh, vibrant, rich, ripe and lovely”.
The full World Champions by Style and National Champions for 2017:
The Champagne & Sparkling Wine World Championships received more entries from more countries than ever before. A total of 17 trophies were awarded from 82 Best in Class winners, including 10 National Champions, 4 World Champions by Style and the Chairman’s Trophy, presented this year to AR Lenoble 2008 Grand Cru Chouilly (Magnum).
- World Champion Blanc de Blancs – Hattingley 2011 Blancs de Blancs (Magnum) from England
- World Champion NV Brut Blend– Louis Roederer NV Brut Premier (Magnum) from Champagne
- World Champion Rosé – Chandon NV Rosé from Argentina
- World Champion Vintaged Brut Blend – Piper-Heidsieck 2008 Vintage
- Best Argentine Sparkling Wine – Chandon NV Rosé
- Best Australian Sparkling Wine – Howard Park Wines NV Jeté Brut Blanc
- Best Chinese Sparkling Wine – Chandon NV Brut
- Best English Sparkling Wine – Nyetimber 2009 Classic Cuvée (Jeroboam)
- Best French Sparkling Wine – Dom Pérignon 1998 P2 (Magnum)
- Best Italian Sparkling Wine – Maso Martis 2011 Brut Riserva (Magnum)
- Best New Zealand Sparkling Wine – Hunter’s 2013 Mirumiru Reserve
- Best South African Sparkling Wine – Klein Constantia 2013 Brut
- Best Spanish Sparkling Wine – Vilarnau NV Vilarnau Brut Reserva
- Best US Sparkling Wine – Roederer Estate NV Rosé
The following wines were also named Regional Champions 2017
- Best Cava – Vilarnau NV Vilarnau Brut Reserva
- Best Champagne – Dom Pérignon 1998 P2 in Magnum
- Best Franciacorta – Berlucchi ’61 Saten in Magnum
- Best Loire Sparkling Wine – Bouvet NV Saumur Brut
- Best Prosecco – Astoria NV Arzana Cartizze Dry
- Best Trentodoc – Maso Martis 2011 Brut Riserva in Magnum
For a full list of trophy and medal winners click here.