We have great news to share with Spanish wine lovers. We are delighted to have received the award to the Best Online News Site at the IWC Merchant Awards for the second year in a row.
The gala dinner, held at the Palace Hotel in Madrid last Monday, brought together a crowd of wine professionals from Spain. Unfortunately, English editor Yolanda Ortiz de Arri -one of the driving forces behind SWL- wasn’t able to attend the ceremony. As the jury remarked again on this edition, our bilingual English-Spanish format makes Spanish wine available to a much wider audience. I would also like to underline the fact that a website like ours is the result of the efforts of a team of people.
As well as SWL, other companies won the award for the second time (Bodeboca, Best Online Wine Store). Burgos-based distributor Alma Vinos Únicos won the Best Merchant award for the third time in a row, that is, in every single edition of the awards so far.
Other notable winners included sommeliers Guillermo Cruz and Silvia García. Partners in life, they both work at Mugaritz, the three-Michelin-star restaurant located in Gipuzkoa (Basque Country) that was awarded the Best Wine List prize. For his part, Guillermo Cruz took home the award to the Best Sommelier in the country.
The group Ramón Bilbao saw their work recognized in two categories. Their inspiring advertising campaign The journey begins here was named Best Marketing Campaign while their Albariño Mar de Frades won the Best Packaging award.
The fun anecdote of the night took place when wine writer and communicator Meritxell Falgueras collected the prize to the Best Independent Wine Store. She breached the protocol (only special prize winners are asked to say a few words to the audience) and explained that the Barcelona-based Celler de Gelida has been a family business since its foundation in 1895. She also had a few words for her parents: “my father is still at the helm,” said Meritxell, who also thanked her mother for the daily, freshly made orange juices she prepared for the current generation running the business – a wine lover’s liquid universe is wider than expected.
Ricardo Pérez Palacios received the well-deserved Personality of the Year special award for turning Bierzo into one of Spain’s most recognised red producing regions, as well as for having promoted a classification based on vineyards rather than wines which values the work of local grape growers. Shy and charming, he joked that it is his famous uncle Álvaro Palacios the one who usually collects the prizes and thanked everyone in what could be described as the shortest speech of the night.
The Special Lifetime Award 2018 was for Pedro Bonet, former president of the Cava Regulatory Board and the driving force behind the Cava de Paraje Calificado single-vineyard category. Absent from the gala, the prize was collected by Joan Juvé, renowned producer in the DO Cava.
The IWC Talks were an interesting addition to the 2018 edition of the IWC Merchant Awards. Meant to be an open forum, the format was a sequence of short, dynamic talks to discuss specific wine issues.
Designed by Mateo & Co., the Spanish agency for William Reed Business Media, the list of speakers and topics included IWC co-chairman Charles Metcalfe, who spoke about the connections between wine and music; Lavinia director Juan Manuel Bellver, who talked about wine prices or Elisa Errea, founder of The Wine Studio, who discussed about education for wine professionals. The IWC Talks featured five Masters of Wine: Fernando Mora MW (on the truth and lies about old vines); Andreas Kubach MW (quality 4.0); Sam Harrop MW (simplicity in wine); Almudena Alberca MW (natural and technological) and the president of the jury Pedro Ballesteros MW who addressed the issue of describing wines as male or female.
The Spanish IWC Merchant Awards
Best Hotel for Wine Tourism: Finca Los Arandinos
Best Wine Tourism Experience: Pagos Del Rey Museo Del Vino and Ruta Del Vino Somontano ex-aequo
Best Supermarket for Wine: Lidl
Best Specialist Retailer: Bodega Santa Cecilia
Best Independent Wine Retailer: Celler de Gelida
Best Online Store: Bodeboca
Best Wine Merchant: Alma Vinos Únicos
Best Marketing Campaign: Ramón Bilbao for “El viaje comienza aquí” (The journey begins here”)
Best Packaging: Mar De Frades
Best Wine Publication: Selectus Wines
Best Wine Guide: Semana Vitivinícola
Best Online Platform: Spanish Wine Lover
Best Wine Educator: Escuela Española De Cata
Best Wine Bar: Monvínic (Barcelona)
Best Wine List: Mugaritz
Best Sommelier: Guillermo Cruz
Special Award – Vision and Innovation: Ricardo Pérez Palacios
Special Lifetime Award: Pedro Bonet. Ex-President of Cava Regulatory Board
The IWC Merchant Awards for Spain represent the first and sole attempt to date to export these highly recognized British awards to another country. The IWC competition awards are also formally presented at the Spanish ceremony. This year they were as follows:
Best Spanish Winemaker IWC 2018: Sergio Martínez, Emilio Lustau (for the second year in a row following the record set by his predecessor at Lustau, Manuel Lozano, who won the price between 2009 and 2015)
Best Spanish Red IWC 2018: Altos del Corral Single Estate Reserva 2010, Bodegas Corral (Rioja).
Best Spanish White IWC 2018: Cultivare Xarel.lo 2015, Domenèch Vidal (Penedès)
Best Spanish Fortified Wine IWC 2018: Tío Pepe Tres Palmas, González Byass (Jerez)
Best Spanish Sparkling IWC 2018: Perelada Stars Brut Nature Reserva, Cavas del Castillo de Perelada (Cava).
Presided by Pedro Ballesteros MW, the panel of judges included Charles Metcalfe, joint president and founder of the International Wine Challenge UK; journalist and expert Angela Mount; Aragonese producer Fernando Mora MW; Joxe Mari Aizega, Basque Culinary Center director; Ferran Centelles, sommelier, elBullifoundation drinks director and Spanish correspondent for Jancis Robinson; Ángel Riesgo, publicist and president of DDB España; María José Huertas, sommelier of La Terraza del Casino in Madrid and José Luis Benítez, general director of the Spanish Wine Federation (FEV).