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Europe: other countries, including England

Finally, finally, finally we saw some really good wines here in all kinds of styles and prices, with a few must-stock Golds

For a section of the competition that has never delivered more than a few desultory Silvers, 2012 marked something of a coming of age. Eleven medals, three of them Gold, was about as much as this category has managed in the previous five years put together.

Much of the increase can be put down to the sudden appearance of a stack of English wines. And while the homeland’s success with sparkling wines (see Essential section) is to be expected, the performance of the still wines was a surprise to many of our tasters.

Particularly since two of the medal winners came in a style (red – the Gusbourne Pinot Noir) and at a price (£5.09 – the Gold-Listed Biddenden’s Gribble Bridge Ortega) that the UK isn’t meant to be able to do.

‘We were looking for both lively entry level wines and also food friendly wines,’ said DrinkBritain.com’s Susanna Forbes. ‘There was a good range of styles here and some good quality too. Generally it was a very encouraging flight.’

Beyond the UK, entries this year came in from much further afield than usual. At last, Eastern Europe woke up and produced some decent entries, and if there was nothing from Greece or Lebanon among the medals, we still had some genuinely interesting efforts, from a cheap, Turkish white (the Vinkara) up to a Condrieu wannabe from Domaine du Daley in Switzerland. ‘At just under £20 it would be a hand sell, but the wine itself was very good, balanced and expressive, and really would work as a point of difference,’ said China Tang’s Igor Sotric. ‘It’s a proper sommelier wine, but one that a certain type of customer would really appreciate.’

The reds were patchier, but in the Eduardo Miroglio Soli Pinot Noir it threw up one of the finds of the competition. This year our judges struggled to find affordable Pinot from anywhere, so this fresh, elegant, unmistakeably European version deserved its plaudits – and the Critics’ Choice award that came its way.

‘I was looking for wines that had real stand-out personality, that said English wine and couldn’t be from anywhere else in the world, and many of these wines stood out with fresh, fruity and minerally character.’ Marco Feraldi, Galvin La Chapelle

‘There’s a real argument for having an English wine on your list. People are more and more interested in eating and drinking local produce.’ Christine Parkinson, Hakkasan