Home News > October 2018 > Our judge's favourite wines from SWA 2018

During the Sommelier Wine Awards (SWA) judging days our panel of taster’s kindly offer up extensive tasting notes for each worthy winner and as part of this, they ‘favourite’ wines throughout the process for their online Wine Portfolio.

In 2018, we had over 2,000 wines that at least one of our judges saved to their portfolio and these are the wines that were liked the most…

Harrow & Hope, Blanc de Noirs, 2013 Marlow, England
This producer had a great competition in 2018 and priced at £36.43, their Blanc de Noirs was described as ‘outstanding,’ by an impressed Elisa Soggia of Kai Mayfair, who loved this Gold medal winner’s ‘fresh, nutty vanilla aromas, balanced yeast notes with a crispy, buttery palate, long finish and a touch of salinity’. While Mattia Mazzi of Lutyens Bar & Restaurants went on to highlight its ‘flinty, crushed stone and steely but harmonious nose with lots of iodine, elegant and sumptuous palate, mid-palate intensity and plenty of tangerine, ripe lemon and yuzu fruit, too’.

Château Ksara, Chardonnay, 2016, Bekaa Valley, Lebanon
‘Plenty of fruit, good, juicy and vibrant,’ began team leader Simon Woods, finding this Gold winner priced at £16.52 to have ‘lots of power and presence, with ripe melon and peach’, and adding that it was ‘gutsy in style, but fresh, too’, while for Davide Dall’Amico of Royal Automobile Club it was ‘generous, with tree fruit and peach, nectarine, with spices from the oak and a chewy texture, but lengthy flavour’.

Domaine des Carabiniers, Lirac, 2016, Rhône, France
Judges didn’t hold back in their praise as this rightly took Gold, with Crafthouse’s Andrea Rossi finding it ‘a smooth and elegant wine’ with ‘notes of liquorice and tobacco’, and thinking it showed ‘good potential for ageing’. ‘A bright, sweet, nose with raspberry, mulberry, blueberry and cocoa,’ added team leader Angela Reddin, describing a palate that was ‘laden with fruit and smooth tannins – all at a great price’ (£7.92). ‘Rustic, fruit and earthy,’ summarised Le Gavroche’s Rémi Cousin, adding that it was ‘a wine for food and friends’.

Domaines Schlumberger, Riesling, Grand Cru Saering, 2014, Alsace, France
This impressive Gold-winning Riesling, priced at a reasonable £13.95, had ‘a floral, flinty nose, with honeysuckle notes’, began Cheese at Leadenhall’s Robert Mason, further describing it as having ‘fresh acidity, with a hint of residual sugar, and a little oily, too’, and adding that the combination was decidedly ‘food friendly’. ‘Slate, rubber and lemon zest,’ added Richard Cavagin-Carey of The Harwood Arms, enjoying its ‘balanced palate, with slight sweetness, and a nice finish, too’.

Our judge’s favourite wines from the New World were both Silver medal winners from South Africa and were extremely popular choices: 

Shannon, Mount Bullet, Merlot, 2013, Elgin, South Africa
'Juicy concentration and smooth, ripe tannins' began Adam Michocki of Glasshouse in his praise of this Merlot, priced at £23.41, going on to find 'red fruit character, like cranberries, strawberries, blueberries and redcurrants', while team leader Laurent Richet MS appreciated its 'lovely purity and vibrant acidity'.

Distell, Nederburg, The Beautiful Lady, Gewürztraminer, 2016, Stellenbosch, South Africa
Senior judge Andrés Ituarte was very much impressed with this wine's 'great value at £12.55, hints of oolong tea, pear juice and melon heart with a mineral finish', while Edgaras Kazokaitis of Roka Aldwych agreed it was an 'amazing wine, with gingerbread, rose, lychee and guava notes balanced by refreshing acidity'.