Record haul of medal winners in UK wine awards

There has been a record-breaking haul of medal-winners  in the UK wine industry’s annual national wine awards – The English & Welsh Wine of the Year Competition.

It is organised by the United Kingdom Vineyards Association and this year saw the largest number of wines ever entered … 327 wines, from over 90 producers all over the UK.

United Kingdom Vineyards Association

The wines were judged over two days by a team of six Masters of Wine – the only competition in the world judged entirely and only ever by Masters of Wine.

The judges awarded 284 medals and a further 26 wines gained Highly Commended status.

The UK’s top three most widely planted grape varieties – chardonnay, pinot noir and bacchus – dominated the trophies, producing winners in all but one category: the still rosé.

The trophy winners

Vintners’ Trophy – The most outstanding sparkling wine
Langham Wine Estate Classic Cuvée 2011

Jack Ward Memorial Salver – The most outstanding large production wine – 2013 vintage
Albourne Estate Bacchus 2014

McNie Trophy – The most outstanding oaked white wine
Gusbourne Estate Guinevere 2013

Wine Guild Trophy – The most outstanding large production wine – any other year
New Hall Pinot Noir Rosé 2013

Tom Day Trophy – The most outstanding single varietal wine
Albourne Estate Bacchus 2014

Dudley Quirk Memorial Trophy – The most outstanding large production wine(>10,000 litres)
Chapel Down Bacchus 2014

President’s Trophy – The most outstanding small production wine (<1500 litres)
Plumpton Estate The Dean Blush Brut NV

Waitrose Rosé Trophy – The most outstanding still rosé wine
Meopham Valley Vineyard Rosé 2014

Bob Lindo Trophy – The most outstanding sparkling rosé wine
Plumpton Estate The Dean Blush Brut NV

Hattingley Valley Entice 2014, UK wine award winner
Hattingley Valley Entice 2014

Bernard Theobald Trophy – The most outstanding red wine
Sharpham Vineyard Pinot Noir and Précoce 2013

Berwick Trophy – The most outstanding large production unchaptalised still wine
Hattingley Valley Entice 2014

Stefanowicz Trophy – The most outstanding sweet wine
Hattingley Valley Entice 2014

Montagu Trophy – Best presented wine
Castle Brook Vineyard Classic Cuvée 2009

 

The man behind Aldi wines, Mike James, picks his special wines for you

MANY of my friends say that Aldi wines have changed their lives. Friday nights begin with a “rush to the shops” to stock up for the weekend.

Mike James, Aldi’s wine buyer, since 2010, has overseen the team which has made Aldi a must-go destination for reliable, affordable wines.

I spoke to Mike, and asked what gave him the “stop and think” moment that began to drive his wine passion?

Mike James, Aldi's wine buyer
Mike James, Aldi’s wine buyer

He says: “It was at the caves of Domaine Filliatreau in the Loire.

“As soon as I smelled and tasted their wonderful cabernet franc wines, I had an instant flashback to my first visit, which was 20 years earlier.

“It really made me contemplate the provenance, uniqueness, typicity, drama and passion that are encapsulated by well-made wines.”

Mike clearly loves the role he has in bringing new wines to people like you and me.

He says: “Wine is there to be enjoyed, and most definitely not to be frightened about. Everyone has a palate. Everyone knows what styles they like. There are no right or wrong answers.”

He says Aldi strives to shift elitist misconceptions about wines.

There’s no better example of that, than Aldi’s limited Lot range.

Four wines were released; a Pézenas made with the excellent French winemaker Jean-Claude Mas, a Tasmanian chardonnay; a Leyda sauvignon blanc (this Chilean wine was stunning!!) and a malbec cabernet blend.

All were £9.99 and released in limited batches of 25,000 – 30,000 bottles from spring to the end of May.

I snapped up quite a few myself, with several after-work detours to make a hole in the “limited batch”. Most have sold out but there is still a good stock of the malbec cabernet, made in conjunction with Jean Pepé Galante.

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Was this a brave move for Aldi? Mike says: “The continued success of The Exquisite Collection shows that Aldi shoppers aren’t afraid to pay slightly more for great quality products. Our customers have begun to trust our wine range and have started to spend more; the Lot Series was designed to reflect that.”

I asked Mike to recommend some wines for you. Here we go.

A Wednesday night “don’t break the bank”

The Exquisite Collection Muscadet Sevre et Maine Sur Lie, £5.99

Mike says: Goes well with shellfish, fish and chips.

I say: The wine is from the Loire, made from the melon de bourgogne grape. After fermentation, the wine spends time “sur lie”. This is the “lees”, the dead yeast, which adds a slight waxy, bitey texture to the flavours of lemon, apples and pear.

A Friday night “relax”

The Exquisite Collection Clare Valley Riesling, £6.99

Mike says: Goes well with Chinese dishes and Thai food.

I say: This is a delicious wine. The Clare Valley in Australia produces some fantastic riesling. This one is juicy, crisp and tropical and a steal at the price. It has just won the International Wine Challenge’s Great Value White under £7 award, and a gold medal too.

A Sunday Lunch special dinner with family

The Exquisite Collection Pinot Noir, £6.99

Mike says: Great with roast turkey, game, chargrilled tuna, salmon.

I say: New Zealand pinot noir is a dream; this one isn’t over complicated. It has bright red fruits, wild herbs and smokey earth on the nose; with red fruits to taste.

A celebration

That has to be our Veuve  Monsigny Champagne  Brut (£9.97)

Mike says: We’ve been working with the small champagne house Philizot et Fils for nearly four years now and this collaboration really shows in the consistently excellent quality of their Champagne. Perfect for a toast!

I say: Cheers! (I agree)

Published in the saturday extra magazine June 27, 2015

Liverpool Echo – South Wales Echo – Daily Post Wales – Huddersfield Examiner – The Chronicle, Newcastle – Teesside Evening Gazette – Birmingham  Mail – Coventry Telegraph – Paisley Daily Express