September 27th, 2017
Pictured is winemaker Kevin Shayle from Three Choirs Vineyard, Newent, receiving the SWVA Wine of the Year 2017 trophy for the best wine in the annual competition from chief judge, Patricia Stefanowicz MW.
The Wine of the Year is chosen by the SW Vineyards Association competition judges after a taste-off between the winners of each class of the competition. In recent years it has mainly been won by sparkling wines, so for a dessert wine to win is unusual and welcome.
This year the competition was judged by a team of six judges at Devon's Pebblebed Vineyard, at Clyst St George near Exeter, on 11th September. The awards ceremony was the following day at Pebblebed and attended by member vinegrowers and winemakers from across the south west, from Herefordshire to Cornwall.
Pebblebed's owner Geoff Bowen welcomed members, explaining that Pebblebed's aims were to be a local vineyard with strong community involvement rather than seeking a national or internationl profile. It is staffed only by Geoff and winemaker Alex Mills and run with the help of volunteers and partners, including those from his BBC "Dragon's Den" appearance. Much of the wine is sold through his wine bar in nearby Exmouth. At harvest they welcome between one and two hundred volunteers.
The showery weather was kind on the day and members were able to chat, taste the competition wines, enjoy a delicious salad buffet and listen to the announcement of the competition results out of doors in Pebblebed's courtyard, under the awning.
Chief judge Patricia Stefanowicz reviewed the wine classes, commending particularly the sweet whites and white sparkling, the only classes where judges, judging to international standards, had awarded Gold Medals. The judging team of six, Patricia, Alastair Peebles MW, Jemma Mitchell, Lindsay Oram, Tim Johnson and Richard Coulson contained two Masters of Wine and three who regularly judge international competitions. All are qualified to at least WSET Diploma/Educator level.
Guy Smith (Smith & Evans) announced the results, starting with the news that Ian Edwards (Furleigh Estate) had decided to stand down as SWVA Chair after three years. Guy, as Vice Chair, thanked Ian for all his work, particularly representing the needs of smaller producers so effectively during the negotiations for the merger of UKVA and English Wine Producers. Guy was later confirmed as Chair by the SWVA committee, who met after the event, with Sandy Luck (Aldwick Court Farm) taking over as Vice Chair.
You can see the full results here>>. Wine of the Year was Three Choirs dessert wine "Noble Harvest 2015". Other Golds went to Langham Estates who scooped both of the sparkling wine trophies with "Blanc de Blancs 2014" and "Rosé 2014", to Camel Valley for their "Chardonnay Brut 2014" and to Furleigh Estate for "Blanc de Noirs 2014". Sharpham Estate also won two trophies, for the Best Dry White and Best Rosé.
Trophies for the best wines in each category were:
Best Dry White: Sharpham "Dart Valley Reserve 2016". Winemaker Duncan Schwab.
Best Oaked White: Polgoon "Seyval Blanc-Ortega 2015". Winemaker John Coulson.
Best Non-Dry White: Three Choirs "Noble Harvest 2015". Winemaker Martin Fowke.
Best Rosé: Sharpham "Whole Berry Rosé 2016". Winemaker Duncan Schwab.
Best Red: Three Choirs "Raven's Hill 2016". Winemaker Martin Fowke
Best Sparkling White: Langham Estates "Blanc de Blancs 2014". Winemaker Daniel Ham.
Best Sparkling Rosé: Langham Estates Rosé 2014". Winemaker Daniel Ham.
Best Non-Commercial Dry White Wine: Claylands "white number one". Winemaker Darryl Gill.
Best Small-scale Winemaker: Darryl Gill.
The Gillian Pearkes trophy for best contribution to the work of the SWVA went to Jane Awty.