Sussex producers win 48 medals at 2020 WineGB Awards

Red wine glasses toasting The results of the 2020 WineGB Awards have been announced. Showcasing one of the world’s most exciting wine regions, the calibre of judges and competition partners make the WineGB Awards the major competition for Great Britain’s wines and wine producers.

The judging took place last month in exceptional conditions with the judging panel comprising co-chairs, TV wine experts Susie Barrie MW and Oz Clarke MBE, and Rebecca Palmer, wine buyer for leading independent wine merchants Corney & Barrow, tasting through a record number of wines.

The results show that sparkling wine remains the dominant category in gold and silver medals, but successes for still wines are on the increase.  When it comes to grape varieties, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Bacchus dominate the still wine category featuring in all the gold medal winning still wines, with Chardonnay being the most popular grape variety for Britain’s traditional method sparkling wines - which gained more gold medals than other sparkling styles. Still red wines, notably, achieved their highest ever scores with two gold medals,15 Silvers and nine bronzes awarded, and these were dominated by Pinot Noir.

Susie Barrie comments: “This year of all years it has been a competition to remember. We cannot overlook the extraordinary circumstances in which we judged and I’d like to thank every single person involved in ensuring the week ran smoothly.

“We three judges tasted some fantastic wines from a large number of producers and from right across the country. There are some very strong winners, both sparkling and still wines, in all categories. It was particularly pleasing to see new producers competing alongside long-established ones, proving that the UK is an ever-growing and hugely exciting region to watch. Congratulations to every single medal winner, you can feel very proud of what you have achieved.”

Co-Chair Oz Clarke adds: “For once Susie and I had the chance to taste every wine. It made such a difference to our understanding of what is happening north to south, east to west. I feel I have learned so much about our exciting and vibrant British wine world from this week of judging. It was very hard work, but to everyone - thank you very much.”

Fifteen producers entered for the first time, some new to the market, with several gold medals being awarded among them.  

27 counties from across Great Britain were represented, with Sussex dominating the medal table with 48, closely followed by Kent with 45 medals.  The Wessex region (Hampshire, Dorset, Wiltshire) gained 30 medals. Notably, four urban wineries (three in London and one in Tyne & Wear) achieved seven medals between them.  

The judging schedule was modified in accordance with strict COVID-19 protocols, with the three judges tasting through all 281 wines over the five-day competition, which was held at Ashling Park Estate who kindly donated the venue.

Belinda Mercer, Competition Manager comments: "This has been a truly extraordinary year for the WineGB Awards.  From COVID-19 risk assessments, PPE equipment, sneeze screens, a reduced panel of three amazing and totally dedicated judges, a logistics team who were so professional and such a pleasure to work with, to our hosts, Ashling Park Estate, who provided us with the most glorious venue and incredible hospitality, the 2020 competition is one that will be etched on our memories for ever".

The competition results also show some new and alternative winemaking styles including oak-aged Bacchus and one ‘stop ferment’ wine, as well as wines from many other grape varieties both long-established and new to Great Britain’s vineyards, illustrating the ever-growing scope and variety of production in the industry. One sparkling wine made from Merlot was awarded a Gold.

The Trophy winners, including the crowning of the Supreme Champion will be announced at a special filmed virtual ceremony on Tuesday 8th September at midday, with awards being presented by Susie Barrie and Oz Clarke, with author and presenter Peter Richards MW as Master of Ceremonies.

The full set of medals are available on the WineGB website

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