Saturday, 2 November 2013

Winning Welsh Wine

Back in June this year I blogged about the rise of English wine having attended an English Wine Tasting in central London. Well, it seems those Celts across the border would also like to get in on the act. On Monday 28th October I was fortunate enough to be invited to attend the inaugural Welsh Wine Awards at the beautiful Llanerch Vineyard in the Vale of Glamorgan near Cardiff.

Actually my route to getting an invite to the event that was attended by around 40 of the great and good of Welsh Wine, along with a few journalists, is testimony to the power of social media. Through connections on twitter and this blogger site I appear to have made it onto a mailing list of the recently formed Welsh Vineyards Association chaired by Richard Morris.

The email I received invited me 'as a leading wine writer / critic we would be delighted if you could attend'. Please excuse me blushing at this point and of course my friends and family laughed out loud (LOL if you will) when I told them. But no matter, the invite was there and I WAS delighted to attend.
Help yourself! 35 wines from the inaugural Welsh Wine Awards
35 wines from 9 of Wales' 17 vineyards were entered into the competition that was judged to the exacting standards of Decanter as would be used in wine competition throughout the world. So no 'gimmes' for being a relatively new industry. The judging panel consisted of Roger Jones, chef proprietor of the Michelin starred The Harrow at Little Bedwyn, Bill Gunn MW former UK MD of Pol Roger and Julie Bell, Manager at the award winning Felin Fach Griffin in Brecon.

And the results were remarkable. But then I knew they would be as soon as I started tasting the wines. The guests were invited from 1pm, the judging having taken place in the morning. On arrival, I was a little nervous as I did not know anyone else invited but I needn't of been. Soon I was chatting away quite happily in the cosy confines of the Cariad Restaurant and Bar. All of the wines were set up on the bar for us to try and it was very much help yourself to whatever you wish.

Cariad Wine in the  Restaurant of the same name. LOVEly!
I had to be a little careful as I had a long drive home afterwards so I attempted to try a wine from each of the Vineyards. I particularly liked the wines from Tintern Parva and found myself trying all of their wines.

Helpful list left by the staff for me to photograph.
Not sure about the Pea Soup but the others were great.
Whilst sampling the wines and chatting we were served a selection of delicious canapes. The staff had left a list of them on their station so I got a cheeky photo. The smoked salmon mousse was especially good with the great sparkling wines we were trying.

Soon we were called to take our seats and a simple, but delicious, lunch of grilled pollock was served. And again, we could help ourselves to whatever wine we liked to enjoy with lunch. I chose the Wernddu White 2011 which was later announced to be a Bronze medal winner.

Smoked Salmon Mousse anyone.
And so to the award presentations. Of 35 wines entered fifteen bronzes, five silvers and one gold were awarded. A fantastic achievement for an industry that is still in it's infancy and an organisation that has only set out on it's life in 2013. A full list of all the entered wines and winners is included below. I would like to thank Teleri Fielden for her help for supplying me the full list of wines and winners. She is also behind the marketing effort Wine Trail Wales, an attempt to champion Welsh vineyards as a tourist attractions in their own right.

I mentioned Richard Morris as the Chairman of the newly formed WVA (Welsh Vineyards Association) earlier and it was he who invited me to this ground-breaking event. And it is also he who has much to be proud of as his fantastic wines from Ancre Hill Estates garnered three bronze, three silver and the one prestigious gold medal awarded for the Ancre Hill Sparkling Rose 2009.

That was not quite the end of my day though. I was very impressed with Llanerch and went to thank Ryan Davis, it's owner, before organising a tour with Ben, a very helpful member of the team. And what a place. They have the fabulous Cariad Suite and Junior Suite in the main house and seven further studios in a second building. All are beautifully appointed but the Cariad Suite is breathtaking. My thoughts turned a long promised weekend away with Louise, my wife and hopefully a chance to also attend the Angela Gray Cookery School to improve our cooking skills.
Emm...Yours truly right of shot on Welsh language TV

After a long drive home I was monitoring twitter for feedback on the day when I found out a feature about the event was to be on S4C's Heno (Tonight), the Welsh language channel. We hopped over to the channel and within five minutes there I was, right of screen, being filmed by the camera crew mentioned earlier. And, yes, I've told everyone about it I've met since.

That is it for now. I will be back with another blog soon. If you would like to meet me in person and home is in the UK why not take a look at my website Maybe you need an excuse for a party involving tasting some lovely wines. Do get in touch.

You can also follow me on twitter. or see my facebook page

Until next time, enjoy your wine. Cheers! or in Welsh Lechyd Da!


                 Welsh Vineyard Association Wine Competition 2013

Class 1- Still White and Still Rose
101   Ancre Hill  Chardonnay  2010                                      BRONZE
102   Tintern Pava   Bacchus    2011                                    SILVER
103   Glyndwr Rose  2011
104   Ancre Hill  Rose  2010
105   Wernddu  Rose  2011
106   Tintern Pava Bwthyn Rose  2011                                 SILVER
107   Pant Du Rose  2012                                                   BRONZE
108   Tintern Pava Bryn Heulog  2011
109   Tintern Pava Sir Fynwy  2012                                      BRONZE
110   Sugerloaf Madeline Angervine  2011
111   Wernddu White  2011                                                 BRONZE
112   Sugerloaf Blush  2011
113   Sugerloaf Abergavenny  2011                                      BRONZE
114   Sugerloaf Calon Lan  2011
115   Ancre Hill White  2012

Class 2- Red Wine
201   Whitecastle Rondo  2012                                            BRONZE
202   Ancre Hill Pinot Noir  2009                                          SILVER
203   Tintern Pava Ty Coch  2011                                        BRONZE
204   Ancre Hill Pinot Noir  2011                                         SILVER
205   Glyndwr Red
206   Whitecastle Pinot Noir  2012

Class 3- Sparkling White and Sparkling Rose
301   Wernddu Sparkling  2007                                            BRONZE
302   Glyndwr White Brut  2009                                           BRONZE
303   Ancre Hill Sparkling Pinot Noir/ Seyval
         Blanc  2008                                                               BRONZE
304   Sugerloaf  Rhosyn  2007                                             BRONZE
305   Tintern Pava Dathliad Rose  2010
306   Llanerch Sparkling Blush  2011
307   Glyndwr Rose Brut  2010
308   Ancre Hill Sparkling White  2008                                  SILVER
309   Llanerch Sparkling Brut  2011                                      BRONZE
310   Whitecastle Regent Rose  2011
311   Ancre Hill Sparkling White  2009                                  BRONZE
312   Tintern Pava Dathliad White  2006                               BRONZE
313   Ancre Hill Sparkling Rose  2009                                  GOLD
314   Meadowview Gwyn-y-Fro White  2010                         BRONZE