The People’s Choice Awards are now in their fourth year and submission numbers have increased by 100% year-on-year since its inauguration.
This year spirits have been added so the competition is now called the People’s Choice Drinks Awards rather than Wine Awards.
Its categories seek to reflect when everyday consumers actually drink the wine they buy rather than always using more technical categorisations.
True to the competition’s name, hand-picked, enthusiastic wine or spirits consumers make up the Round One judges and create a short list that goes forward to the next round.
Here, a professional panel that includes modern wine communicators who are wine writers, broadcasters and bloggers select the eventual winners.
Both rounds are, of course, tasted blind.
The process is more “Trip Advisor” than “?Which Report” but seeks to combine the best that both of these offer.
I have been enthusiastic about the concept from the outset and have been a long- standing Round Two judge and sponsor for one of the categories (Bargain Buys).
In many ways, they do what MidWeek Wines also sets out to do – find ways to tease out some of the best value wines around with the “ordinary” wine drinker firmly in mind.
Award winners for 2021 were announced last week and here is a selection of those that made it to the top of the heap but the full list can be accessed via this link.
As usual pictures and hyperlinks are included where possible to make it easier to find and buy any that take your fancy.
Off to a Fizzing Start
In the Fabulous Fizz- Best Champagne category, the winner was the guy that, co-incidentally, I recommended last week for the half bottle versions that they sell.
With noteworthy early exuberance, The Society’s Brut Non Vintage Champagne (£34 at The Wine Society and 12.5%) impressed the judges with the excellent way its zesty grapefruit acidity combines with the red apple backbone and the gentle yeasty backdrop that also contains hints of almond biscuits.
Incidentally, Aldi’s Veuve Monsigny Brut (£12.99) secured a Gold Commendation in this category.
Sparkle from further afield
I have been an enthusiastic supporter of previous vintages of the sparkling Bird in Hand Wines where a good friend to MidWeek Wines – Kym Milne MW – is Chief Winemaker.
This new vintage is not purely pinot noir but has added portions of chardonnay and shiraz to the blend and the quality of the result has been recognised with its acquisition of the Fabulous Fizz – Sparkling Wine Rest of the World award.
Pale and aromatic, 2020 Bird in Hand Sparkling Rosé (£11.99 – instead of £15.99 until 2 March – at Waitrose Cellar and 12.5%) from Australia’s Adelaide Hills provides us with floral strawberry and raspberry flavours supported by lingering sherbet acidity, an attractive savoury foundation and hints of clove and even cocoa.
When it comes to Oriental food
One expected to see riesling or a similar wine walking off with the award for White Food Friendly Wines for Aromatic Food but the judges have called it exactly right by selecting this great value wine made from an indigenous Romanian grape variety.
Full marks then to 2020 Wine Atlas Feteasca Regala (£5.25 at Asda and 11.5%) for its distinctive and delightfully soft red current and red apple flavours that are so neatly fused with good acidity and touches of both peach and baking spice.
And a Bargain Red
In my Bargain Buys category, it was good to see this nicely crafted South African red win through since it neatly merges the soft raspberry features of malbec with the edge of sweetness that ripe shiraz can bring to the party.
Medium bodied in depth and decidedly fruit driven, 2020 Sheep Hill Shiraz Malbec (£7 at Sainsbury’s and 13.5%) marries those raspberry elements with soft red currant flavours, good acidity, limited tannin and suggestions of cinnamon and mint.
Finally, hearty and special
Predictable perhaps that the class for Food Friendly Reds for Hearty Meals will draw in some big hitters and victory does indeed belong to a flagship wine from a premium Australian producer with a blockbuster, special occasion wine.
It’s hard to do anything but love the sheer sophistication and opulence of the Clare Valley’s 2018 Wakefield St Andrews Cabernet Sauvignon (while the 2018 is yet to arrive here in numbers, www.farehamwinecellar.co.uk has the 2016 version at £31).
Unsurprisingly, this wine is dark, dense and powerful (14.5%) with plum and blackcurrant flavours underpinned by good acidity, modest tannin and accompanying minty mocha components.
And here are some other winners.
Congratulations as well to other winners that include:
2016 Black Chalk Classic in the Fabulous Fizz- Sparkling Wine UK category with its smooth apple and grapefruit foundation embellished by hints of orange.
2019 McGuigan Shortlist Riesling in the Pass the Crackers category that looks for still wines to partner cheeses and has chosen (great to see) a white wine for the job.
2018 Aldi Special Release Shiraz in the section called “Fire Up the BBQ”that seeks wine to match robust barbequed foods.
2019 Incanta Pinot Noir that Majestic sell which won the prize in the “Great Outdoors” category – for uncomplicated, easy drinking wines suitable for taking to parties and outdoor festivals.
Be good to see you all again on Monday when we announce two more Top Tips and update our information on the latest deals in the main retailers.
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