The first Champagne and Sparkling Wine World Championships were devised by Champagne's higher divinity Tom Stevenson. For the inaugural competition at Plumpton College this year, he was joined by Finnish Master of Wine, Essi Avellan, and Tony Jordan, the Australian éminence grise behind the Yarra Valley's Green Point and other Moët & Chandon New World set-ups.
Keen to show off the results of this labour of love – and it was a labour with 650 wines tasted over seven days – Stevenson and Avellan held a dinner in London with a number of meat-free tasting courses. They introduced Champagnes and sparkling wine in a number of styles, ranging from a humble Spanish cava, the 2012 Freixenet Cuvé de Prestige Trépat (as yet unavailable in the UK), through two fizzes from Italy's Franciacorta, an English sparkling wine, and nine Champagnes.
It was a substantial achievement by Ruinart to win both World Champion Blanc de Blancs for its elegant, crisply chiselled NV chardonnay and the deluxe award for its richly creamy, intense 2002 Dom Ruinart Blanc de Blancs. The non-dosage fizz trophy – that is to say, no sugar added –went to a superbly-crafted 2008 Mosnel Rosé Franciacorta, a sunny climate the recipe for a beautifully balanced style.
NV Rosé winner was an accomplished, raspberry ripple-like Charles Heidsieck Réserve while the fabulously punch (and horrendously pricey) 2002 Roederer Cristal Rosé deservedly stole the Supreme World Champion crown. Underlining England's growing fizz credentials, the surprise of the night was the Hattingley Valley Rosé, a herby, ultra-tangy fizz that beat all-comers to become World Champion Vintage Rosé.
After Pommery Brut Royal's success with its NV magnum and a gorgeously toasty Laurent Perrier Grand Siècle NV which took the Deluxe Magnum trophy, the second big surprise was that the Co-op's wonderfully toasty 2004 Les Pionniers Champagne, £24.99, made by Charles and Piper Heidsieck, took the World Champion Vintage Blend title. Another surprise: a brilliant Franciacorta, the 2005 Ca' del Bosco Cuvée Annamaria Clementi, won world champion vintage Magnum trophy , while Dom Pérignon's classy 1996 Oenothèque took World Champion Deluxe blend honours.
Now that the Champagne and Sparkling Wine Awards are up-and-running, could you come up with a snappier title? Promising a magnum of deluxe Champagne for a name he prefers, Tom Stevenson says: "Something not flippant, funny or off-putting, but inclusive of both Champagne and sparkling wines, and with a certain gravitas". If you can, email me at email@example.com. The full results appear in the next issue, 45, of The World of Fine Wine 2014.Reuse content