English sparkling wine trumps champagne in Sommelier Wine Awards 2018

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Drinks: Wines

For the first time in the history of the Sommelier Wine Awards (SWA), English sparkling wines have taken more places than champagne on the coveted gold list.

Announcing the very best on-trade wines available to venues across the UK, the 12th annual SWA has been described as a ‘watershed moment’ for the story of English fizz.

 ‘The advance of English sparkling wines has been an ongoing story in this competition for the last five years – but 2018 really felt like a watershed moment,’ said Chris Losh, competition director. ‘The fact that we had more golds for English sparkling wine than for champagne is proof not just of a broad base of really good wines, but also an openness on the part of restaurants to list them.’

SWA’s news comes mere weeks after leading English sparkling brand Chapel Down announced its seventh year of over 20% growth and a year after Fuller’s pubs scrapped its champagne-by-the-glass in favour of English wines.

With the results based on almost 3,000 wines being tasted, each year gives a sommeliers’ take on the current trends in the wine world.

But it wasn’t just English sparkling that put in a gold-star performance. The Rhône managed to pick up a record-breaking number of gold medals, making it the runaway star of the awards. The region won nine gold medals for red wines and a further two for its whites.

‘The key feature of this year’s performance was that there were great wines across the whole appellation: north, south, Cotes du Rhône and whites,’ said Losh.

This year’s judges included head of wine for the global Hakkasan Group Christine Parkinson, global on-trade wine list consultant Annette Scarfe MW, head sommelier at Coq d’Argent Andrés Ituarte, and owner of wine bar group Vinoteca Charlie Young.

The medal-winning wines are listed on sommelierwineawards.com complete with full tasting notes of all the winners. The SWA Gold Book will be published with the Summer issue of Imbibe magazine.

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