The Wines of the Year winners for the Sommelier Wine Awards 2016 were judged, then unveiled, at Imbibe Live this week.
In the final element of the judging process from this year’s competition, 40 judges visited the SWA stand at the show to take part in deciding the overall winning candidates for House Wine of the Year, Fine Wine of the Year, Gastropub Wine of the Year and Overall Wine of the Year.
In arguably the most commercial category, House Wine of the Year, Chile pulled off a clean sweep, winning both the Red and White House Wine of the Year medals. Yet the winners were far from the varietal styles most commonly associated with the country.
Cono Sur Los Gansos Gewürztraminer won the white category – only two years after winning a Critics Choice award in the 2014 competition, while the Red House Wine of the Year went to the Viña Vistamar Sepia Reserva Malbec.
The Vistamar award topped off a good year for Chilean Malbecs in SWA – and also a highly promising year for the Maule Valley. The Cono Sur Gewürztraminer is also partly made with Maule fruit.
The two Fine Wine of the Year awards were split between the Old and the New World, with Isole e Olena’s Collezione Privata Chardonnay taking the White award, rounding off a great year for importer Liberty Wines, which picked up the SWA Merchant of the Year award in May.
The Red award went to the Matthew Clark-imported Sanford Pinot Noir, from the Santa Rita Hills – and proof that sommeliers are prepared to recognise high-priced Californian Pinot if the quality is there.
The award for Gastropub Wine of the Year went, for the first time, to an Austrian red wine – the impressively priced Eschenhof Holzer Zero-G Zweigelt 2013. This attractive mid-weight red, costing just £7.75 from Berkmann Wine Cellars, had already impressed our judges sufficiently to win a By The Glass Award; so picking up a Wine of the Year award as well really did round off a terrific competition.
Overall Wine of the Year – the coveted best of the best of the best, put together from tasting our covered Critics Choice winners, went this year to a New World wine – and one with some serious bottle age, the Morgenster Estate Reserve 2003, available from Enotria. Dense and serious, yet also elegant and balanced, it was a worthy winner with real pedigree.
Winners in brief
Overall Wine of the Year
Morgenster Estate Reserve 2003, Stellenbosch, South Africa - Enotria, £25.36
House Wines of the Year
Cono Sur Los Gansos Gewürztraminer, Maule/Casablanca, Chile - Concha y Toro, £4.47
Viña Vistamar Sepia Reserve Malbec 2014, Maule Valley, Chile - Bottle Green, £4.78
Fine Wines of the Year
Isole e Olena Collezione Privata Chardonnay 2014, IGT Toscana - Liberty, £23.95
Sanford Pinot Noir 2010, Santa Rita Hills, California - Matthew Clark, £30.70
Gastropub Wine of the Year
Eschenhof Holzer, Zero-G Zweigelt 2013, Wagram, Austria - Berkmann Wine Cellars, £7.75