The Wine Garden of England and its awards
Throughout The Wine Garden of England, producers from Gusbourne to Chapel Down are racking up local and international awards. Whether they be picking up a prize at the pinnacle Decanter World Wine Awards or even local favourites Taste of Kent Awards, Kent’s wines are proving popular. So, what makes Kentish wine so outstanding and what awards has it won?
Why is the county so attractive for growing grapes?
The Garden of England’s history with growing fruit and vegetables has been long and perfect, with hops through to apples being grown in the area for centuries. Wine was somewhat unheard of and it has only been in the relatively recent years that the growth has occurred. The main elements that provide the perfect conditions are predominantly the soil and climate. Being quite chalky, Kent has perfect ground drainage for the vines and combined with the generally sheltered areas around the Downs the risk is low for sharp winds whipping across. Putting all of this together, the wine producers who have set up here have drawn on similarities to the French powerhouse region of Champagne.
The award winners themselves
So, with the conditions mentioned above, we are poised and already proving that we are one of England’s finest locations for wine making – let’s take a look at some of the best bottles that have been made right here.
From local awards such as Produced in Kent to the International Decanter Wine Awards, Chapel Down has quite the trophy cabinet. In 2016 its Kit’s Coty Chardonnay 2013 won best UK white wine £15+, and in 2018 at the International Wine & Spirits Competition the Kit’s Coty Coeur de Cuvée 2013 and Blanc de Blanc 2013 won gold. More recently and closer to home, the same KC Chardonnay won Kent Wine of the Year at the Produced in Kent awards. Equally as impressive, the Chapel Down Bacchus has been commended many times over with silver and bronze awards - Herzliche Glückwünsche!
Fifty years has been a good amount of time to collect handfuls, even bagful’s of awards and that is exactly what Biddenden have done. From their first award back in 1989 at the United Kingdom Vineyards Association for their Ortega, to the three silver and bronze awards last year at the Wine GB Awards, Biddenden’s lineup has been praised the country over. Yet similar to Chapel Down, it’s not just local awards – their 2015 Ortega won bronze at the Decanter World Wine Awards in 2017!
Comparably young to Biddenden, Hush Heath has been winning awards since its inception back in 2004 - their first vintage won the Gold Medal and Trophy in 2008 at the International Wine Challenge. Since then gold and silver awards have surrounded their Pinot Noirs, Roses and Blanc de Blancs – from the Decanter World Wine Awards. Their most recent winner was the Balfour Skye's Blanc de Blancs 2014, winning gold at the International Wine Challenge in 2017 and three silvers at DWWA in 2018 for their Balfour Rosé Brut, Balfour Skye Blanc de Blancs Brut and their Tesco Finest* English Sparkling Brut.
With the impressive new winery and year on year growth of grape picking, it'd be no surprise that Simpsons is also expanding its trophy cabinet. Most recently, the vineyard has picked up two Silver Medals at 2019's IWC for its 2016 Canterbury Rose Sparkling Rosé and 2018 Railway Hill Rosé. Also in 2019, the Decanter World Wine Awards sent two Silver Medals Simpsons way for their 2017 Roman Road Chardonnay and 2018 Canterbury Rose Rosé and a Bronze for 2018's Railway Hill. However, what really makes Simpsons stand apart from the rest is that the Norwegian Sommelier's Association gave Simpsons the crown in a blind tasting of English wines, picking up 91 points!
Coming out on top a number of times for their individual wines is second nature – collecting four silvers and one bronze at the 2018 DWWA’s alone and won five gold medals at the Texsom International Wine Awards. However, the pinnacle was winning not only a platinum award at the DWWA’s for their 2015 Boot Hill Vineyard Pinot Noir, but winning English Wine Producer Of The Year in 2015 at the IWSC awards!
Back in 2015, Squerryes’ 2010 Brut picked up two incredibly prestigious awards - gold medals in the blind tasting Sommelier Wine Awards and International Wine Challenge. Skip ahead two years and their Vintage Reserve Brut won a silver at the DWWA’s 2017 awards. One year further along and Squerryes popped with a Gold award at The Champagne & Sparkling Wine World Championships for their 2013 Brut. However it is most recently in 2019's international Decanter Awards where the vineyard has surpassed their own milestones, as they picked up a Platinum medal for its 2014 Vintage Reserve, beating wines from across the world – what a bubbly feeling!