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PRODUCERS OF THE YEAR

Picking up any medals in SWA is an achievement, so for a single producer to pick up half a dozen is quite something. And if most of them are Gold it suggests a winery at the very top of its game. Many, many congratulations to this year’s Producers of the Year

SPARKLING WINE PRODUCER OF THE YEAR - TAITTINGER

5 GOLD, 1 BRONZE, 3 COMMENDED

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Champagne had a good year in SWA 2019, and appearing time and time again was one name: Taittinger. Six medals, five of them Gold, was the best performance we’ve seen from a Champagne house in this competition. Of course it helps that the Comtes de Champagne is such an effortlessly beautiful wine – it wins Gold more or less every year – and this year the Blanc de Blancs was joined by the Brut Rosé just for good measure. Yet Taittinger also picked up places on our Gold List for the 2013 vintage, the non-vintage and the rosé sec, Nocturne, all of which are, by Champagne standards, competitively priced. So all in all, this was an incredible effort in a highly competitive part of the competition, a famous name that thoroughly deserves its reputation.
Suppliers: Hatch Mansfield, Matthew Clark.
 

EUROPEAN PRODUCER OF THE YEAR - CASA ERMELINDA FREITAS

4 GOLD, 3 SILVER, 11 COMMENDED

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While we have had European Producers of the Year from France, Italy and even Turkey in the past, Ermelinda Freitas is our first Portuguese winner. Impressively, it’s not from the famous wine valleys to the north, either – it’s from Setubal, south-east of Lisbon. And because of this, we ended up with a really wide stylistic spread of medals. The Golds were a House Red and a House White (no mean feat in a highly competitive area), a Merlot and a classic Setubal Moscatel; the Silvers went to another Moscatel, plus two more reds. It’s very unusual for the same producer to pick up Golds with house wines and £30 fortifieds. Not that the Moscatel wasn’t worth it! In fact, across the board, the pricing was competitive. This is one new arrival that is well worth seeking out.
Suppliers: Casa Ermelinda Freitas, Direct Wines, Atlantico UK.
 

NEW WORLD PRODUCER OF THE YEAR - KLEINE ZALZE

5 GOLD, 1 SILVER, 1 BRONZE, 4 COMMENDED, 1 PUB & BAR TROPHY

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Sheesh. What is there to say about these guys? Kleine Zalze is reliably one of our best performers year in year out in the Sommelier Wine Awards. But to get two Producer of the Year Awards in consecutive years is all but unheard of. Key to its success is not just the quality of the wines – clearly, this is a consistently good range, otherwise it wouldn’t be rewarded year after year. Rather it’s the value for money. This year, our tasters repeatedly found it tough to find good wines under £12 so to have half of your medal winners (and two Golds) under £10 was truly impressive. They should be the first port of call for everyone looking for that £30 slot on a wine list. But, interestingly, the quality carries through as the price goes up, too, as the £20 Golds demonstrate quite clearly.
Supplier: Hatch Mansfield