The 2007 International Wine Challenge (IWC), the world’s largest blind wine tasting, has announced its medal results, highlighting notable improvements from Spain, South Africa, Argentina, Chile, Greece and the UK.
The awarding of fewer Gold medals this year underlines the rigorous judging process of a competition that has established itself as the pre-eminent arbiter of wine quality since it was created 24 years ago.
This year 9,358 wines were judged from 35 different countries, by 400 judges. The judges came from 19 different countries and included 33 Masters of Wine. 260 Gold medals were awarded (representing 2.8% of the entry). 1,129 wines won Silver medals (12.1% of the total). The biggest change is in the percentage of Bronze medals awarded (19.7% of total entries) with 1,839 medals, 7% up on last year.
The top 3 medal winning nations remain the same as last year – France, Australia and Italy. France scooped the most medals with a total tally of 635. South Africa sees an increase in medals from 147 in 2006 to 195 in 2007.
France also takes home the most Golds (44), followed by Australia (39). Portugal comes in third with 36 Golds, a great achievement for a smaller wine-producing nation. Although the overall trend was for fewer gold medals (7% less than in 2006), Chile more than doubled its haul from 5 in 2006 to 13 this year.
English wines continue to show improved form with 10 medals in 2005, 16 medals in 2006 and 21 in 2007. This year’s single UK Gold goes to Denbies Wine Estate Greenfields 2003, the Surrey vineyard’s top sparkling wine.
UK Supermarket successes
Of the UK Supermarkets Tesco stocks most medal winning wines (126) whilst Sainsbury’s can claim the most Golds (13). Showing patriotic foresight Waitrose is the only UK supermarket to stock the Gold medal winning English wine. Amongst its 60 medals and commendations Waitrose own-label wines won 3 Silver and 5 Bronze medals. Own-label Golds from Tesco, Sainsbury’s and M&S include Tesco Finest Marlborough Pinot Noir 2005 (£9.99), Marks & Spencer Leitz Rüdesheimer Berg Roseneck Riesling 2005 and Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference Pouilly Fumé 2006 (£8.99). Showing impressive continuity, Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference Pouilly Fumé 2005 won a gold medal in 2006 and is one of 22 “follow-on” Golds. Other examples are Peter Lehmann’s Reserve Riesling with a Gold this year for 2002 vintage after last year’s 2001, and Villa Maria’s Single Vineyard Graham Sauvignon Blanc, Gold this year for 2006 and last year for 2005.
Medals for Organic wines, and a trophy to follow
810 organic wines were entered into the competition this year, winning 16 Golds, 86 Silvers and 153 Bronzes. Spain had the most medal-winning organic wines with 4 Golds, 21 Silvers and 35 Bronzes. For the first time in its 24 year history the IWC will be awarding an Organic Wine Trophy. It will be announced along with the other trophies at Vinexpo on 18 June 2007.