Sommeliers select delectable wines directly for consumption in bars, restaurants and hotels - and the recommendations from these highly-trained palates carry significant weight in the wine world.
So it is not surprising that the annual UK Sommelier Awards is an acclaimed venue, in which wineries compete for a variety of prestigious on-trade awards and recognition.
The Sommelier Awards are unique because the judges themselves are sommeliers, associated directly with wines and consumers. Entries are limited to wines that are available in the United Kingdom; mass-market wines are explicitly disqualified.
The Sommelier Wine Awards website explains: “Judges reward the same kind of wines they like when putting together their own wines lists: wines have typicity, character and food-friendliness and that offer good value for money. Wines are flighted by category and the judges know the price of every wine they taste.”
Aside from Gold, Silver and Bronze medals, additional alternative awards include Critics’ Choice, By the Glass, Wine of the Year, Merchant of the Year and Merchants Awards, and Producers of the Year.
Prize winners are highly recommended for restaurant wine lists and other on-trade markets, so a Sommelier Award increases exposure and marketing potential for wineries. Winners typically advertise these prizes prominently on websites, labels and blogs, advertising quality through association with the Sommelier Awards.
Award recipients from previous years agree that a Sommelier prize is an asset. Diego Santana, marketing manager for Concha y Toro, the winner of last year’s Producer of the Year award, says on Imbibe.com: “We were thrilled to be named Producer of the Year in the 2011 Sommelier Wine Awards. To be recognized by the on-trade in this way has already helped to open doors for us and has confirmed our belief that Chile can produce the styles of wines that sommeliers and restaurant wine buyers are after.”
In the 2012 competition, Chilean wines collected 15 gold medals and numerous additional prizes, earning an elite honor in the international wine industry.
A searchable database of 2012 UK Sommelier Award winners is provided at sommelierwineawards.com.
Gold medal victors from Chile are listed below by category:
House Wine Red
Errázuriz 1870 Teno Block Merlot, 2010, Curicó Valley, Chile
Cono Sur, Los Gansos Pinot Noir, 2010, Central Valley, Chile
Millaman Estate Reserve Merlot, 2011, Maule Valley, Chile
Emiliana Adobe Carmenere, 2010, Colchagua Valley, Chile
New World: Shiraz, Grenach & Rhône-style blends: New World excluding Australia
Viña von Siebenthal Carabantes, 2008, Aconcagua Valley, Chile
Vistamar Late Harvest Moscatel, 2011, Limarí Valley, Chile