Mon 20 Jun 2016

Wine Champions 2016: The Big Reveal!


Finally the time has come that we are able to reveal the 2016 Wine Champions!

Time to remove the bottle bags!

Time to remove the bottle bags!

This has been my first Wine Champions campaign, and The Society’s biggest one yet. To be that satisfied with the final result and excited to share them with you all, but to have to keep it zipped for many weeks before we were able to do so hasn’t been easy!

With the offer online now, and landing on doormats this week, I wanted to share a few highlights with you – whether they be outstanding wines which really took their tasting by storm or whether it be a collection of wines which show just how good a particular region is looking.

Viva the Vintage
We knew that the 2015 vintage in the Mediterranean was a success, but we were still surprised to see just how many made the cut, especially with the high calibre competition; showing that the quality of the vintage really does speak for itself.

Totting up the scores at the 2016 tastings

Totting up the scores at the 2016 tastings

In the red corner, it was Italy that really took the tasters by storm, with no fewer than three under-£10 reds bowling us over. Our very own Society’s Montepulciano d’Abruzzo 2015 (£6.25) is the first wine in the offer brochure and kicks it all off as we mean to go on with its vibrant, ripe fruit. Close behind is the Valpolicella Valpantena, Torre del Falasco 2015 (£7.25) with its charming cherry fruit, and Valpolicella, Allegrini 2015 (£9.50) tops off the trio, with sweet berry flavours and classic Valpolicella style.

2015 has kept on giving in the white corner too, with six Mediterranean whites featured at under £10. Anselmo Mendes ‘Contacto’ Alvarinho, Vinho Verde 2015 (£10.95) makes the cut for the third year running, thanks to its beautiful and pure lime and apricot flavours; it’s not hard to see why it was a double trophy winner in this year’s International Wine Challenge too.

Grape Expectations
While Burgundy doesn’t feature in the offer, it is there in spirit, with some excellent pinot noir and chardonnay, each of which provided two of the best blind tastings of the entire campaign.

Four superb pinots made the final offer, making it our most popular red grape varietal of the year. This included our first ever red German Wine Champion, in the form of Martin Wassmer Spätburgunder 2013 (£11.95), which held its own against a number of red Burgundies, and indeed ascended above them on account of it being so delicious now, with red-cherry perfume and lovely food-friendly ‘grip’ on the palate.

Pierre Mansour, Toby Morrhall and Mark Buckenham

Pierre Mansour, Toby Morrhall and Mark Buckenham

Chardonnay was just as much of a delight this year, also with four wines featured, showing just how fantastic the variety can be. Our Society’s Exhibition Limari Chardonnay 2014 (£9.95) did exactly what it was meant to do; be the best example of its kind.

As a result of this success, a six-bottle mixed case of three chardonnay and three pinot noir victors has been made to give you a taste of Burgundy abroad.

The Producers
Some wines are just born to be Champions and it would seem that a small few wine stables are regularly producing real thoroughbreds. As mentioned above, Anselmo Mendes has now featured for three years running, and three wines from Château Sainte Eulalie from the Languedoc were crowned as 2016 Wine Champions: their rosé (£7.25) took one of the two pink podium spaces, and two reds, Minervois, Château Sainte Eulalie 2014 (£6.95) and Minervois La Livinière Cuvée Cantilène, Château Sainte Eulalie 2013 (£11.95) also feature.

Another producer worthy of a mention due to their success is Wither Hills, who feature in the offering twice with their 2012 Pinot Noir (£10.50) and their 2013 Chardonnay (£8.50) – given the extraordinary competition for places with both of these grapes this year, this is an extraordinary showing.

Head of Buying Tim Sykes assessing the candidates

Head of Buying Tim Sykes assessing the candidates

Finally, I must give a special mention for those wines in the offer bearing our very own Society labels. Four wines from our Society & Exhibition ranges take pride of place in the 2016 offering, making up 10% of the overall selection! It is always nice to see a Society label when you pull off the blind bag of a winning wine and to have four of our own in there is very nice indeed. The Society’s Exhibition Pauillac 2009 (£25) impressed, with its traditional claret style and bags of finesse, all enhanced by some time in bottle in our cellars.

I hope you enjoy exploring this year’s Wine Champions. I’m off to celebrate with a nice glass of The Society’s Champagne, which features too…!

Freddy Bulmer
Trainee Buyer

Categories : Wine Champions 2016

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