We are delighted to have been named ‘New World Merchant of the Year’ at this year’s Sommelier Wine Awards.
The SWA merchant gongs recognise the companies whose wine entries have done particularly well in certain key areas, bearing in mind the needs of the on-trade, as competition director Chris Losh comments:
"If you rate a wine merchant on their ability to do lots of different things well, then Liberty is right at the top of the tree. In the last four years of SWA it’s won (in order) Italian Merchant of the Year, Overall Merchant of the Year, European Merchant of the Year and, this year, New World Merchant of the Year.
"Over 40% of its Golds (and, indeed, its Medals overall) went to wines from outside Europe. But this wasn’t so much about sheer numbers as the kind of wines that won. If you did nothing but stock their 13 Gold Listed New World wines, you’d have a pretty comprehensive selection of countries and classic styles."
We have 31 wines in total on the SWA 2018 Gold List, as below. Two of these have also been awarded 'Critics' Choice Trophies', as wines that "the judges simply fell in love with, whatever their price or style."
GOLD LIST & CRITICS’ CHOICE TROPHIES
Sandeman, 40 Year Old Tawny Port NV, Douro, Portugal
Caspar Auchterlonie Fortified Wine Award
Judges, unsurprisingly, had no shortage of praise for this Gold winner, bestowing it with the ultimate accolade, the Caspar Auchterlonie Award for the competition's top fortified wine. For Manuel Ribeiro of The Bybrook at The Manor Hotel it stood out for its ‘elegant, clean style and complex oaky length’, while Christoph Hons of Park Chinois highlighted ‘a fine body, good balance of sweetness and smoky herbal flavours’. ‘Supple, with gentle, juicy spice, this is long and generous, with real depth and freshness,’ concluded team leader Simon Woods.
Bruno Rocca, Barbaresco `Rabaja` 2014, Piemonte, Italy
This highly acclaimed Gold Lister was ‘a big wine’, according to consultant Charles Pashby-Taylor, who admired ‘lots of fresh new oak that will integrate with time, underlying rich ripe fruit with bright acids and fresh tannins, and classic high notes of red fruits’. Team leader Tom Forrest praised ‘spicy cedar and oak, with some violet aromas too, leading to a soft palate with pepper and cherry joining more cedar, spice and floral notes’.
Akarua, Central Otago Pinot Noir 2016, Bannockburn, New Zealand (current vintage 2015)
Allegrini, Amarone della Valpolicella Classico 2013, Veneto, Italy
Belisario, Verdicchio di Matelica `Vigneti del Cerro` 2016, Marche, Italy
Bodegas LAN, 'A Mano Edición Limitada' Rioja 2014, Rioja Alta, Spain (current vintage 2012)
Cà dei Frati, Lugana `Brolettino` 2015, Lombardia, Italy
Chambers Rosewood, Rutherglen Old Vine Muscat NV, Victoria, Australia
Charles Heidsieck, Blanc des Millénaires 2004, France
Château Larose Perganson, Haut-Médoc 2014, Bordeaux, France (current vintage 2010)
Contero, Brachetto d`Acqui DOCG 2017, Acqui, Piemonte, Italy
Dandelion Vineyards, `Red Queen of the Eden Valley` Shiraz 2015, Eden Valley, South Australia, Australia (current vintage 2013)
DeLoach, Russian River Valley Chardonnay 2015, Sonoma County, California, USA
Delta, Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2017, Marlborough, New Zealand (current vintage 2016)
Donnafugata, 'Bell’Assai' Frappato di Vittoria 2016, Sicily, Italy
Donnafugata, `Ben Ryé` Passito di Pantelleria 2015, Sicily, Italy
Framingham, Marlborough Classic Riesling 2015, New Zealand
Gabriëlskloof, Walker Bay Cabernet Franc 2015, Bot River, Cape South Coast, South Africa
Gaintza Txakolina, Txakoli 2017, Basque Country, Spain
Justino's, Colheita 1996, Madeira, Portugal
Justino's, Malvasia 10 Years Old NV, Madeira, Portugal
Kaiken, Cafayate Torrontés 2017, Salta, Argentina (available from June 2018, current vintage 2016)
Kim Crawford, `Spitfire` Small Parcels Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2017, New Zealand
Maison Les Alexandrins, Crozes-Hermitage Rouge 2015, Northern Rhône , France (current vintage 2016)
Mitolo, `The Angela` McLaren Vale Shiraz 2015, South Australia, Australia (current vintage 2016)
Morris of Rutherglen, Old Premium Rare Liqueur Muscat NV, Victoria, Australia
Peter Lehmann, `Black Queen` Barossa Valley Sparkling Shiraz 2012, South Australia, Australia
Pieropan, `La Rocca` Soave Classico 2015, Veneto, Italy
Shaw & Smith, `M3` Adelaide Hills Chardonnay 2016, South Australia, Australia (available from June 2018, current vintage 2015)
Valdespino, Oloroso 'Solera 1842' VOS NV, Jerez, Andalucia, Spain
Villa Cialdini, Pignoletto Sparkling Brut Modena 2017, Emilia-Romagna, Italy
Please visit the SWA website for the judges’ comments on our 111 Gold, Silver and Bronze medal-winning wines, as well as more information on the competition.
Pictured above: Liberty Wines' Luciann Flynn and Tim Tweedy accept the SWA 2018 New World Merchant of the Year award (Image courtesy @ImbibeSWA)