Home News > June 2019 > Surprises and great value as SWA Wines of the Year revealed

After nearly three thousand wines, 150 tasters and seven days of judging, the Sommelier Wine Awards 2019 came to a glorious conclusion with the awarding of this year’s Trophy winners at Imbibe Live.

Selected by some of our top judges from a blind tasting of Gold Medal winning wines, the Trophy winners truly are the best of the best, their unveiling eagerly awaited. And this year there were more than a few surprises.

Our coveted Wine of the Year - Best in Show Trophy went to a German wine from a famous Rheingau estate – but for a Pinot Noir, not a Riesling.

The Kloster Eberbach, Estate, Pinot Noir 2016 (£16.00, Boutinot) was one of our cheapest Best in Show winners - a high quality wine at a steal of a price.

‘It’s not just the quality of the fruit,’ said Street XO’s Raphael Thierry, ‘it’s those spicy, savoury notes – they really add something to it. You could definitely sell this to the Burgundy fanatic.’

‘It delivers a lot for the money,’ agreed the River Café’s Mattia Mazzi. ‘With spice, cherries and vibrancy it’s really juicy and easy to drink. You can get this on a list for a good price and still make a good margin on it.’

It was a similarly unexpected story for our Fine Wine of the Year. For the first time ever, it went to a Portuguese wine, but a white from the Dão, rather than a big name Douro red.

The Quinta dos Carvalhais Branco Especial, NV (£29.20, Liberty) won over all who tasted it. ‘It was unexpected,’ said New Street Warehouse’s Tanguy Martin. ‘But it’s something different and has a long life in front of it - something new for sommeliers to play with. People who like Chenin Blanc or Chardonnay will like this.’

Unusually, this year we had two medal winners for our Gastropub Wine of the Year, one red and one white.

The white was, again, a Portuguese wine: Casa de Vila Nova Alvarinho, 2018 (£7.95, Boutinot) which was praised both for its price and its versatility. ‘It will work with different food types like spicy food, noodles or tuna,’ said the Cavalry and Guards Club’s Andre Luis Martins. ‘There’s a fatter texture here than you might expect, and that gives the wine flexibility.’

The Alvarinho’s red counterpart was the Chaffey Brothers Synonymous Shiraz 2016 from the Barossa (£12.42, Enotria). It might have been right up against our £12.50 price limit for this Gastropub section but our tasters felt it was worth every penny.

‘It was a great food wine – really juicy but with an elegant palate, rounded, ripe and integrated,’ said JKS’s Sunaina Sethi. ‘It felt like a step up to me, and you could get it on a list for £40-45. I’d be super happy with that.’

This year our team picked out one House Wine of the Year from the 2019 Golds, but it was perhaps the most unanimous decision of the day. The Bodegas Olarra, Otoñal, Crianza 2017 (£5.50, C&D wines), from Rioja was an exceptional wine for the money.

‘People would smash it!’ said Sunaina Sethi. ‘They’d have no problem getting through a bottle of this.’

‘I’d sell it by the gallon,’ agreed Andre Luis Martins, while Raphael Thierry saw it as every business’s dream. ‘If I took this I wouldn’t even use it as a house wine,’ he said. ‘I’d make a super GP on it. It would be my money-maker!’

‘I think this year’s Trophy Tasting showed that our tasters judge only on quality not reputation. They are happy to reward wines from anywhere provided they are good enough,’ said Competition Director Chris Losh. ‘As the five best wines from nearly 3,000 entries, this year’s Trophy Winners should be on the radar of every venue in the country.’