Old and emerging stars kick off London wine fair

Tue May 18, 2010 2:37pm EDT
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By Paul Casciato

LONDON (Reuters Life!) - A blizzard of medals pronounced France the top wine-producing nation on Tuesday and also heralded the surprising places where award-winning wines are made in the 21st century at the kickoff for the London International Wine Fair.

France held onto its title as the number one wine-producing nation at the 27th annual edition of the International Wine Challenge (IWC), which bills itself as the wine world's "Oscars."

The blind taste tests, carried out by almost 400 judges including global wine expert and British television personality Oz Clarke, awarded France 75 gold medals and 947 medals in total at the IWC as hundreds of winemakers, buyers, sellers and writers gathered in London for the 30th annual London wine fest.

Australia came second with 65 golds and Portugal third with 35, in a contest which also highlighted the best of English sparkling wine and growing success for Japanese sake, a statement from the International Wine Challenge (IWC) said.

Wines from China, Japan, England and Wales all gained medals in the International Wine and Spirit Competition (IWSC), highlighting an interesting theme at this year's fair, where wine from countries who have not been well-recognized producers in the West have come to promote their wares.

"What this year's results highlight more than ever is that great wine can be made anywhere in the world, so wineries need to make a greater effort to stand out from the pack," IWSC competition director Frances Horder said in a statement.

France dominated the middle of the trade fair at the ExCel center in London's docklands with enormous stalls dedicated to its massive and well-known regional brands alongside some lesser known names.

Spain, Germany, Italy, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, the United States and a number of Latin American producers were also out in force.   Continued...