France nets six International Trophies at glittering DWWA Opera House awards ceremony
At a gala dinner in the Paul Hamlyn Hall at the Royal Opera House Covent Garden attended by the cream of the wine world, including Decanter’s legendary columnist Michael Broadbent, New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc pioneer Brent Marris, and Paul Symington of Dow's Port among others, International Trophies were handed out to six French producers – the country’s biggest haul since 2007.
The triumph of France is particularly noteworthy as many of the winning producers are far from being household names.
The Sparkling Over £10 Trophy, for example, went to Palmer and Co’s Blanc de Blancs. Its ‘exceptional depth of flavour’ was praised by judges, and its ‘outsider’ status remarked, as Palmer is not a Grande Marque but a small, albeit highly-regarded, cooperative.
Palmer saw off competition from some of the most established names in the world – Taittinger Comte de Champagne Rosé, Charles Hiedsieck Reserve, Henriot Blanc de Blancs, as well as confident newcomers like England’s Gusbourne Estate.
Another unusual win was the Chateau Routas Wild Boar Rosé from Provence – the first time a rosé has ever won an International Trophy at the DWWA – a wine whose ‘appetising, moreish style [sings] of Mediterranean France’ in the words of the five-strong panel that judges the top level awards.
The great wine regions of France were not be left out, however. Neither a white Rhône nor a white Bordeaux have received an International Trophy since 2006 – six-year drought that was broken last night.
Chateau Brown in Pessac-Leognan won White Blend Over £10, its ‘beautiful pure aromas’ lauded by the panel, and a white Rhône Villages – La Petite Bellane from Clos Petite Bellane – won White Blend Under £10.
There was also jubilation from the South American tables as a clutch of medals fro Argentina and Chile were announced: the two countries won eight ‘Best in Show’ International Trophies between them.
Chile is second only to France in its haul of five of the coveted Trophies, while Argentina won three.
Three of the wines came from the Leyda Valley to the west of Santiago, a cool coastal region whose first vineyards were planted little more than a decade ago.
These winners included Viña San Pedro 1865 Single-Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc 2011, praised by the judges for its ‘layers of guava, passion fruit and savoury, salty minerals.’
Viña San Pedro was up against a Saint Clair Sauvignon Blanc Wairau Reserve 2011 from Wairau Valley in New Zealand, and the renowned Nepenthe Sauvignon 2011 from Adelaide Hills, South Australia.
Its fellow Trophy winners from Leyda are the Leyda Reserve Syrah 2010, and the Undurraga TH Pinot Noir 2010.
The latter had formidable competition, including highly-reputed Pinots from Loire, Austria, Burgundy (Albert Bichot Clos Frontin Grands-Echézeaux 2010) and Oregon.
Argentina’s International Trophy winners were Amalaya 2011, an ‘intensely floral’ Torrontes from Cafayete which won Dry Aromatic Under £10, Bodegas Santa Ana Unánime 2007 red blend from Mendoza, and Bodegas Salentein Portillo Malbec 2011 from Uco Valley.
In the Retailer Awards, the 2012 Supermarket of the Year title went to Marks and Spencer, whilst The Wine Society retained its National Wine Merchant of the Year crown, winning for the second time in two years. See the full Retailer of the Year Award results.
Full DWWA 2011 results: