IEWA 2024 Results

After two years of absence from judging at the IEWA, I was excited to be back in Bristol last month for the 2024 competition. As with previous years, the competition boasts a diverse and eclectic group of judges, comprising wine professionals, writers, retailers, winemakers, communicators and consumers. To use IEWA founder Alex Taylor’s own words, “The IEWA is an independent, consumer-focussed English wine competition. But more than that, it’s a celebration and a community.”

A celebration sums up a thorough and involving day of judging at the IEWA. There was an electric atmosphere in the room throughout as we tasted through a selection of wines nearly as diverse as the group of people in the room. Many first wines from new producers are entered into the IEWA, a great chance for upcoming producers to have their wines judged alongside established names and industry peers.

This year IEWA veteran Susy Atkins sat in the Chair Judges’ seat for the first time. I’ve looked up to Susy as a wine writer and communicator for many years, and it was a delight to taste alongside her again this year.

This year ten wines went on to take Gold Medals – five each were still and sparkling, and once again I’ve taken the opportunity to highlight my thoughts on the top medal winners. The overall winners this year were particularly impressive: a deep a textural sparkling rosé in Winding Wood Rosé 2020, and the superbly ripe Burn Valley Chardonnay 2022.

Photo & Bottle Shot Credit: Pete Axford

Now in its eighth year, the IEWA has done it again, shining a spotlight not only on long-established, well-known wineries but also on lesser-known producers – the stars of the future. The judging is always a blind tasting undertaken by several panels – a large, diverse and therefore thorough mix of winemakers, merchants, critics and influencers, all volunteering their time and expertise. When the results come out it is a joy to discover gems from new wineries from across the country, and this year is no different with some exceptional medal winners. I thoroughly enjoyed chairing the IEWA this year.”

Susy Atkins, Chair of Judges

As with my previous year’s coverage on the IEWA, I’ve focused here on the Gold medal winners, but the full list of all medal winners can be found over at

The Gold Medal Winners

  • Winding Wood Brut Rosé 2020
  • Aldwick Seyval Jubilate 2020
  • English Oak Quercus Blanc de Blancs 2020
  • Henners Rosé NV
  • Hidden Spring Classic Cuvée 2019
  • Burn Valley Vineyard Chardonnay 2023
  • Cobble Hill Bacchus Special Reserve 2023
  • For the Heretics Pale Rosé 2023
  • Vagabond Dios Mio Bacchus 2022
  • Vagabond Solena Orange Ortega NV

Focus on the Overall Winners

Winding Wood Brut Rosé 2020

Wine Type:
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IEWA 2024 Sparkling Trophy Winner

This was one of the wines in my own tasting flight in the competition this year, and to say that it made an impression would be an understatement. Indeed, upon tasting, I turned to my fellow judges and exclaimed, “this has got to have a shot at the trophy”. And indeed, it took the trophy.

It’s a brilliant wine that goes well beyond your lightly fruity stereotypical image of a sparkling rosé. The nose immediately exudes complexity, with toasted sourdough, flaky pastry and super pronounced red fruit.

The palate delivers even more – it’s packed full of pure and punchy red berries up-front. There are lots of raspberry and cranberry flavours, a layer of creamy richness,a hint of orange zest and salted pretzel on the finish. A rosé with true character, this is already one of my favourites of the year.

What the judges thought: “The nose is very complex with lovely pastry notes and still fruit freshness with subtle complexity.”

Burn Valley Chardonnay 2022

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IEWA 2024 Still Trophy Winner

I’ve been impressed with Burn Valley’s wines previously, their Solaris in particular, but this Chardonnay has to be one of their best wines to date. What makes this even more impressive is that this is their first still Chardonnay to date. Winemaker Matt Abbey ages the Chardonnay in new and aged Hungarian oak for six months which brings a beautiful texture and character to the wine.

On the nose there’s ripe apple, white peach, nectarine and honeysuckle, and there’s also a lovely smoky oak layer, almost incense-like in its beauty.

While the nose suggests ripe and stone fruit flavours (which the palate follows through on), it’s the energetic acidity combined with the expressive, soft fruit and lightly buttery richness that proves to be incredibly appealing. Yes, there’s some oak spice in there, but it’s well integrated and adds another facet to this accomplished Chardonnay.

What the judges thought: “A substantial, and limey yet super-smooth Chardonnay.”

The goal of the IEWA has always been awarding, promoting, and celebrating the best of English wine, and while the topography of English wine creation, of consumer perception, and consumption has changed dramatically since we began this competition in 2017, those remain the active objectives.

But it’s not possible to generate the sense of interest, excitement, and ultimately attention and amplification needed to help grow the category without a really great set of wines, and every single year the English wines presented at The IEWA collectively deliver. The wines awarded by our panel this year show off the incredible breadth, range and sheer thrilling, audacious variety of styles and varieties of wine being created in England right now, and from all around the country.”

Alex Taylor, IEWA Founder

John’s Gold Medal Thoughts

Aldwick Seyval Jubilate 2022

Region: Somerset

A really appealing Seyval Blanc without the rough edges and bracing acidity you sometimes get with the grape.

Instead, Aldwick Estate’s Jubilate 2020 is pleasingly fruitful, with ripe orchard fruit, floral notes and a zesty citrus core.

What the judges thought: “Quite a rich full style for Seyval. Impressive.”

Cobble Hill Bacchus Special Reserve 2023

Region: Norfolk

When Bacchus is done right, it really sings – and the Cobble Hill does just that. With floral aromas, lime zest and gooseberry, there’s also a hint of herbs that makes it distinctive.

The palate is bursting with zesty acidity, abounding in green orchard fruits, but also undertones of tangy tropical fruit.

What the judges thought: “Elegant and refined, lovely purity and very drinkable. Pear drops and grapefruit, all in balance.”

English Oak Quercus Blanc de Blancs 2020

Region: Dorset

Not shy in the glass, the wine’s golden hues jump and leap out with a rich, fruit-forward nose.

On the palate, baked apple, white peach and nectarine are lifted by hints of caramelised pastry and vanilla spice, underpinned by lively acidity.

What the judges thought: “Really high-quality fruit and winemaking. Still young but has immense potential.”

Henners Rosé NV

Region: Sussex

Henners Rosé impresses again with its ripe red fruit concentration.

Contrasting with the depth of the fruit, there’s a lovely fresh, crisp backbone that adds excellent balance.

What the judges thought: “Really elegant and sophisticated. Stands head and shoulders above the rest for me!”

Hidden Spring Classic Cuvée 2019

Region: Sussex

This wine impressed nearly two years ago when I first tasted it, and two years on it’s developing really nicely.

Crisp acidity is countered by red apple and red fruit notes from the Pinot Noir and Meunier in the blend. The Hidden Spring is nicely bicsuity and with a roundness and richness that is not always found in the 2019 vintage.

What the judges thought: “Lots of red fruit and autolysis on the palate, and supremely well balanced.”

The Heretics Blowhorn Rosé 2023

Region: Essex

This is a profound wine, with an imprint of oak that has more of a textural rather than a flavour profile. The acidity is bright, punchy and with lots of citrus energy with the tang of redcurrant, but the mid-taste has soft cherries, peach and a twist of blood orange.

This is how I imagine rosé from Burgundy tastes.

What the judges thought: “Fantastic red fruit flavours, elegant and lengthy on the palate.”

Vagabond Dios Mio Bacchus 2022

Region: London

Lively acidity and zesty lime jump out and meld into a medley of peach, apricot and papaya with a twang of bruised fruit or cider funk.

There’s also a firm black tea tannin throughout; this is a textural and distinctive Bacchus that has so much going on and it always rewards the drinker on a second glass.

What the judges thought: “Really enjoyed this. A restrained Bacchus nose with lovely nutty notes, with perfectly balanced tannins and a ripe aftertaste.”

Vagabond Solena Orange Solaris NV

Region: London

This is one of the most unique English wines I’ve ever tasted. It’s aromatically profound, with ripe peach and stone fruit, winter spice and herbaceous tones.

The palate is fleshy and ripe, but with a grippy tannic structure as well as hints of bruised fruit, roasted nuts and black tea.

What the judges thought: “Interesting pithy, aromatic nose, with candied fruit, and a slight sherry quality. Textured, round in the mouth and complex. A fun wine!”

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