What do Britain’s best merchants see in SWA?

‘I can’t wait for the 2017 awards!’ says Matthew Clark’s Judith Nicholson. And she’s not alone. In recent years SWA has become ‘a very important competition’ for Liberty Wines as well, according to its MD, David Gleave. The 2016 Merchant of the Year explains, ‘We are on-trade specialists, so the profile these awards have acquired with the decision-makers in the on-trade has helped us sell more wine through this channel.’

The reason the hospitality sector likes SWA is simple: they are in the judging seat. And the criteria used in awarding medals are those that they employ when choosing for their wine lists: quality, versatility, food friendliness when appropriate, and, equally importantly, price.

Right from the start, this was the raison d’etre of competition director, Chris Losh. So what is he looking forward to this year?

‘We got some interesting, funkier stuff from Chile last year in SWA – I’d love to see if that’s a one-off or a developing trend,’ he says. ‘California did pretty well last year, too, which was encouraging to see, so we’ll be looking for the Golden State to build on its successes. Plus 2015 seems to have been one of those “good across Europe” vintages, so I’d expect to see good reds from more vintage-sensitive areas like the Loire, Beaujolais, Germany and Austria.’

So if you’d like to be involved in 2017, make a date in the diary for 11 October when entries open, and check out our tips on how to make the most from the competition.

We’ll see you there.

Find out more about SWA’s 2016 Merchants and Producers of the Year 

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