France tops gold medal winners at wine challenge

Wed May 13, 2009 2:58pm EDT
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LONDON (Reuters Life!) - France topped the list of gold medal winners at the 26th International Wine Challenge (IWC) unveiled at the London International Wine Fair this week.

France won 49 gold medals, closely followed by Australia with 43 golds and Portugal with 36 golds in a competition of wines from 41 countries across the globe that were tasted by panels drawn from almost 400 experienced wine judges.

The IWC, an influential independent wine competition, awarded 304 gold medals, 1,304 silvers and 2,154 bronze medals to wines entered into the competition. France also led the total medal count with 729 medals, while Australia won 591 and Italy came third with 405.

English wine, which has recently developed a reputation for winning competitions in the sparkling wine category, won a record 24 medals and one gold to Bob Lindo's Camel Valley Bacchus 2007, which the winemaker describes as a modern Sylvaner/Riesling cross that produces wine with a distinctive fruity bouquet and a grapey flavor.

Bob Lindo told the Guardian newspaper that the Bacchus grape, which is generally not known for producing great wine, had found a natural home among the slow-ripening conditions of southern England.

"We are a family affair, we have two-and-a half family members, and five other workers, and we do everything ourselves, right down to bottling the wine, and it's great to know that we are among the best at what we do," he was quoted as saying.

Other non-traditional wine countries also had breakthrough results at the competition, including a first silver medal for Denmark awarded to Don's Orion Brut 2007 and another to Mexico for Casa Madero Shiraz 2007.

(Reporting by Paul Casciato, editing by Patricia Reaney)

<p>Glasses and bottles of red wine are seen in a testing room in France, November 6, 2007. REUTERS/Regis Duvignau</p>