The results for the 11th Sommelier Wine Awards have been announced, with some record-breaking individual performances, the revival of a classic grape variety and the toppling of France from the top spot.
A record number of entries – almost 3,000 – led to the highest ever medal count, with more than 120 top on-trade experts deciding which of the wines that would take their place on SWA’s coveted Gold List.
As always, the competition gave a fascinating ‘sommeliers’-eye’ take on the current trends in the wine world, with some very definite winners and losers.
Top country was Italy, which had the most Golds (69), and the highest number of awards overall, narrowly beating France and Spain. For the first time ever, South Africa was the most successful New World country, beating Australia by the slimmest of margins.
Star grape variety was Chardonnay, with an impressive 24 Golds, split evenly between Burgundy/Chablis and the New World, while a bravura performance from Greece saw the country take home as many Gold and Silver medals as Germany – and more than Austria.
Disappointments were Spain, which after several great years slightly fell back in 2017, and rosé.
The best-performing individual winery was the Marlborough producer Saint Clair, which picked up an amazing five Golds and two Silvers.
This year also saw the first medals awarded to Croatia, Japan, China and Kazakhstan.
‘It’s great to see new styles and new countries emerging, alongside established producers playing out of their skin,’ said competition director, Chris Losh. ‘These are the kind of bottles that can really add something extra to your list. If you’re trying to get ahead of the competition, these results are absolutely the best place to start.’