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PRODUCER OF THE YEAR AWARDS

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

TAITTINGER

5 GOLD, 1 SILVER, 1 BRONZE, 2 COMMENDED


Vitalie Taittinger

Last year’s performance by Taittinger was the best we’d seen from a sparkling wine – or, indeed, any wine in SWA. But somehow, incredibly, it topped it this year. It’s not that it enters hundreds of wines, either – just that what it does send in rises to the top every year. In a blind tasting, with an unforgiving group of tasters, results like this two years on the trot are an impressive testament to the House’s quality. OK, you might expect the two Comtes to stand out (and at over £100 a bottle they should be good) but the other medals were fighting in the heart of NV and rosé champagne – one of the most competitive areas of SWA. The big question is, can it be our first ever producer to win six individual Golds next year?

Runner up: Fox & Fox – three Golds at sub £30 in a range of styles. A newish name on the English fizz scene – but a producer to watch, for sure. Fantastic, Mr Fox…

CASA ERMELINDA FREITAS

4 GOLD, 6 SILVER, 2 BRONZE, 9 COMMENDED

EUROPEAN-PRODUCER-OF-THE-YEAR-(3).jpg
Leonor Freitas

Ermelinda Freitas burst onto the Sommelier Wine Awards with a flourish last year, picking up seven medals and 11 Commended wines. We thought that such a performance might be a one-off. But apparently not. Twelve medals was an extraordinary performance. Perhaps the most impressive aspects this year were the breadth of wines on offer and the pricing. All the Golds were under £10, so plenty of value for money there, while the Silvers stretched from value ‘house wine’ through ‘trade-up’ to the indulgent Moscatel Roxo (which also got a Gold last year). This, it seems, is a winery that can deliver at every level.

 Runner up: Domaine Yves Cuilleron – yes, the four Golds were expensive for the most part, but the quality was absolutely sublime. ‘Condrieu: Better than Burgundy?’ Discuss…

DANDELION VINEYARDS

4 GOLD, 1 SILVER, 3 BRONZE, 1 COMMENDED


Elena Brooks

Dandelion Vineyards is a stimulating project. Yes, Elena Brooks grows her own grapes, but the majority of wines are made with fruit that she buys in from old vineyards within striking distance of Adelaide: Barossa, Adelaide Hills, Eden Valley, McLaren Vale and Langhorne Creek. Dandelion is a regular medal-winner in SWA, but this year was an exceptional performance even by its standards, with a truck load of top medals from £10 to over £50. Our tasters loved the typicity and concentration of these wines – recognising that they were great now (one wine was described as ‘monumental’!) but would age beautifully too. Whether you’re a gastropub or a fine-dining restaurant, there are top-class wines for your list here.

 Runner up: Luis Felipe Edwards – lots of medals, great prices and a variety of styles from ‘classic Chilean’ to ‘stimulating’. Its orange Moscatel is a total gem.

SOGEVINUS

4 GOLD, 2 SILVER, 1 BRONZE, 2 COMMENDED


Carlos Alves

We have only given out a Fortified Producer of the Year Award once before – in 2015, when it was won by Justino’s Madeira. So it takes a truly exceptional performance to catch our eye. And we certainly got one this year. Sogevinus Fine Wines is an independent, privately owned, Douro wine producer. Its portfolio includes Kopke, Burmester, Cálem and Barros. Five centuries of wines, respecting each Houses´ DNA. With 250ha of vines spread over three estates (Quinta do Bairro, Quinta de São Luiz and Quinta do Arnozelo), Sogevinus is committed to sustainable practices that seek to preserve a unique terroir in the world, the birthplace of its wines. And Kopke’s performance this year was impossible to ignore. In what was a strong Port category it absolutely dominated, picking up half of the category’s Golds. Kopke’s big selling point is its long-aged tawnies/ colheitas and whites. Tawny, particularly, is a style that our tasters like, but it was the ability to deliver at varying prices and in varying styles that was perhaps so impressive here. The 10-year-old was affordable, the 1980 and 1981 Colheitas were exceptional for the money and the sublime 2003 white was a deserved winner of this year’s Caspar Auchterlonie Award. The latter is given every year to the competition’s best fortified wine. So if you’ve never tried a seriously old white port, look out for this one.

See our winning merchants of the year.