Friday 10th May, 2019

The winners of the 2019 International Wine Challenge (IWC) were announced on Wednesday (8th May).

We at Exel offer some of the top award winners.

The two very top levels are the Gold and Trophy levels. Gold medals are awarded to the very finest wines in the competition, scoring 95 points or more. These Gold wines are then re-judged at (effectively) a Best in Class and Best in Show level to produce the few Trophy winners. This system is very similar to the Decanter World Wine Awards (DWWAs).

For more details on the IWC awards - ie how they work and are judged, click here.

For the full list of all award winners at IWC 2019, click here.

Although we offer many of the Silver, Bronze and Commended wines, experience shows that the typical Exel customer is almost solely interested - on these occasions - in the very top accolades.

This page therefore offers the 4 Trophy winners that we offer, plus 9 Gold medal winners. The 12 wines are all to be found at the foot of this page, with each product's page displaying a link to the IWC review.

Those Trophy winners are

  • Casa Ferreirinha Papa Figos Douro Tinto 2017 - a Portuguese (Douro) red blend - made from the classic Port grapes - that has consistently scored well in Decanter in previous vintages and provides an excellent, full-throttle, full-bodied glass of Iberian red for only just over £10. No wonder, then, that it won one of the very few Best Value trophies.
  • The Familia Schroeder Saurus Select Malbec 2017 from Patagonia 's Neuquen province. The judges were quite clear about this one: "Like a mountain in the mist, substantial yet a ghostly presence. Amazing brightness of fruit, like polished marble. Seamless and beautiful."
  • Late addition - a fascinating Rioja Reserva (technically) from the amazing vintage of 2005, the Pantocrator by Bodegas Taron. There's barely any in the UK at present, so, apart from a lucky first 12 bottles we can access, these will be with customers in the second week of June. "Mocha and chocolate still swing along with the fruit, which is remarkable and incredibly vibrant for its age. The palate offers all that Rioja lovers crave; creaminess, body, style and elegance. A shining star from Spain", said the IWC panel. We're readying for the rush on this one.
  • The super-classic that is CVNE's Imperial Gran Reserva Rioja 2011. Great producer, great year: all that you would expect from a Gran Res by one of the greatest of all Riojamakers. We don't typically take CVNE wines - they can be awkward to source - but we make an exception for this one.

Elsewhere, among the Gold medallists:

  • Wonderful - if not cheap - dessert icewines from Peller of Niagara in Canada.
  • A glorious, ready-to-drink Cahors from one of the great producers of that mysterious appellation - Chateau de Chambert.

And from IWC18, for 'sticky' fans, we can still (quickly/easily) obtain plenty of the Tokaji Trophy winner, the Patricius 6 Puttonyos Tokaji 2008 - pretty amazing stuff!!

Do take a look.... 

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Familia Schroeder Saurus Select Malbec, Patagonia (Neuquen) 2017 (1x75cl)

Awarded 96 points, Gold and overall Trophy status (Patagonian Malbec Trophy, Argentinian Malbec Trophy) at the 2019 IWC (International Wine Challenge) in May 2019 (see blue link below for review and their tasting note).

Saurus Select Malbec 2017 - IWC 2019 award and review

Patagonia is the most southerly wine producing region of Latin America, lying to the south of Mendoza and las Pampas. With considerable new investment, Argentinian Patagonia is fast emerging as the country`s most exciting cool climate vineyard, making elegant wines with balance and complexity in contrast to the more masculine reds of Mendoza. The region includes two important wine producing provinces, Neuquen to the west, at over 300m altitude beneath the Andes mountains, and the Rio Negro, which follows the long valley of the same name towards the Atlantic Ocean. These are semi arid, alluvial desert vineyards which benefit from constant sun and breezes that help mitigate disease. The vines are able to produce cool climate varieties including Pinot Noir and Sauvignon Blanc with good aroma and concentration as well as perfect levels of acidity.

These lands are magical - they hide astonishing mysteries! When construction began to build the winery a dinosaur was unearthed and in tribute to this 75 million-year-old giant, the name Saurus was given in tribute! Alpataco is a tyre puncturing shrub commonly found in the Monte Desert, which lies southeast of the Atacama Desert in Chile, north of the larger Patagonian Desert, and east of the Andes.

Located at 39’ latitude South, in San Patricio del Chanar near Neuquen, the Schroeder vineyards are planted on gravelly soils and - combined with warm days and cool nights - provide near perfect conditions for grape cultivation. This is a distinguished range of wines with intense aromas and elegant tannins, well structured and with the best characteristics of each vintage.

Grapes were hand-picked and thoroughly selected. 40% fermented and aged six months in oak barrels. The other 60% was fermented and stored in steel tanks, this blend seeking to achieve a fine equilibrium of complexity/richness and fruit density.

This Malbec features an intense dark purplish red that shows maturity. On the nose it is complex - ripe red fruit aromas such as currants, plums and sour cherries melt with some spicy hints. Due to ageing in oak casks some vanilla, bitter chocolate and coffee notes are shown. The mouth-feel is pleasant and well balanced. The long, lingering finish is dominated by sweet, velvety tannins.

This wine is suitable for vegans and vegetarians.

ABV = 14.0%.


Bodegas Taron Pantocrator Rioja 2005 (1x 75cl)

Awarded 96 points, Gold and overall Trophy status (two trophies, in fact: Rioja Reserva and Rioja Trophy) at the 2019 IWC (International Wine Challenge) in May 2019 (see blue link below for review and their tasting note).

Bodegas Taron Pantocrator Rioja 2005 - IWC 2019 award and review

Awarded a Gold medal at the 2019 Sommelier Wine Awards (see blue link below for review and their tasting note).

Bodegas Taron Pantocrator Rioja 2005 - SWA 2019 award and review

Bodegas Taron is a cooperative based in the northernmost part of Rioja Alta. The cooperative is made up of four small towns; Cuzcurrita de Rio Tiron, Sajazarra, Villaseca and Tirgo. These four towns decided that as they share not only the landscape but their culture too, they would benefit from pooling together their vineyards and knowledge to create one bodega focussed on creating high quality Riojas. Bodegas Taron have 700 hectares of vineyards spread over more than 1000 small plots. Some of the oldest vines are over 100 years old which go into making their premium wine, Cepas Centenarias.

Only made in the very best vintages, Pantocrator is a blend of Tempranillo and Mazuelo hand picked from bush vines over 70 years old. The two varieties are aged separately in American oak barrels for 12 months and then blended and returned to the barrels for another 6 months, the wine is then left in stainless steel tanks for 12 months where it is further refined and only then is it deemed ready for bottling. A perfect balance of power and elegance, with notes of black cherries, liqourice, sweet spices such as cinnamon and clove and a light mineral touch on the finish.

Tempranillo 90%, Mazuelo 10%.

See blue link below for the fiche technique/technical note on the Pantocrator 2005 from the winemakers at Bodegas Taron.

Bodegas Taron Pantocrator Rioja 2005 - fiche technique

A cherry red wine of great depth. Good glyceric density, with gentle legs sliding down the sides of the glass, giving an indication of its great volume. Elegant aromas of liquorice, with ripe fruit, and spicy, pepper aromas, underscored by minty notes and a light mineral touch. Fine, elegant, silky tannins in the mouth, with good acidity to balance the palate. The sensations of fruit and spices remain for a long time. A Classic Rioja that beautifully reflects the benefits of one of the best vintages of the 21st Century.

ABV = 13.5%.

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