Yesterday was a fantastic night for Spanish Wine Lover as we picked up the prize to the Best Online Site on the second edition of the IWC Merchant Awards for Spain. It is the perfect icing on the cake to celebrate our third anniversary since we launched the website in September 2014.
In such a momentous occasion it is important to remember that a website like Spanish Wine Lover is the result of the efforts of a team of people. Our English content, which sets us apart from others and makes Spanish wine available to a much wider audience, would not be possible without the highly professional work of Yolanda Ortiz de Arri. The wide array of topics published on our site is only possible thanks to our contributors based across the world and their individual input. Taking care of the technical side of things is Kunn and our corporate image and site design was created alongside Beatriz Durán from io Idea Original.
We would also like to thank our advertisers and all of those individuals and companies who believed in us when Spanish Wine Lover was still in its infancy. Above all, a heartfelt thank you to our readers, who follow and encourage us and give us their feedback on a daily basis.
As these awards celebrate excellence in the wine trade as a whole, there were many winners. It was a pleasure to share the stage with them, all of whom are great professionals whose work we wholeheartedly admire.
Best marketing campaign: Viña Pomal. A great initiative to highlight classic values and bring them closer to a young audience in a light-hearted way. It is interesting to see the great number of advertising campaigns replicating this ingenious communication strategy.
Best Packaging: Matsu (Vintae) for the design of its trilogy of wines from Toro: El Pícaro, El Recio and El Viejo. There is no doubt that Vintae has brought a breath of fresh air to Spanish wine labels.
Best Wine Publication: Condé Nast Traveler Wine Guide. A great effort by writers Federico Oldenburg and Raquel Pardo to bring to the greater public great value for money, terroir-driven wines which stand out among their peers. A proof that wine can be explained in simple terms.
Best Online Platform: Spanish Wine Lover. The jury awarded the prize for “Promoting wine culture, writing in-depth analytical pieces and being a leading online wine publication. For their impact, as a bilingual site, on the international markets and their contribution to the promotion of Spanish wine culture as well as usability of the site and online design.’’
Best Wine Educator: The Wine Studio. Special congratulations are due to Elisa Errea, one of our top contributors. She is a real professional with the ability to talk about wine in a fun and relaxed way. Thanks to her generosity, SWL readers have been able to take part in a draw to join some of her WSET1 courses. We were lucky to share a table with here yesterday during the awards ceremony.
Best Wine List: La Terraza del Casino (Madrid). The jury valued the importance of old vintage wines on the list together with the possibility of discovering great finds for wine lovers and “its charming presentation with maps.”
Best Sommelier: Agustí Peris. Currently working at Etxebarri, one of the world’s greatest grill restaurants nestled on the mountains of Bizkaia in a rural part of the Basque Country. A wine scholar since his early days working in El Bulli. He welcomes clients with jeans and trainers and lets the wines do the talking.
Best Wine Bar: Bar Brutal. THE place for natural wines in Barcelona. Joan Valencia has been able to bring these wines to the street level and create the perfect atmosphere to enjoy them.
Best Hotel for Wine Tourism: Hotel Marqués de Riscal. A step above the rest and the most ambitious wine venture ever seen in Spain. Winner for the second consecutive year, Marqués de Riscal is “rather than just a hotel, a catalyst for wine tourism in our country,” according to the jury.
Best Wine Tourism Experience: Vivanco Museum for Wine Culture. Another number one in Spain and undoubtedly one of the best museums worldwide, if not the best. These were our impressions when we visited it.
Best Supermarket: Carrefour. The jury valued “its good value for money across the range for all kinds of customers.’’
Best Specialist Retailer (Ex aequo): Lavinia and Bodega Santa Cecilia. Their efforts to penetrate the markets, their different locations and “the fantastically trained team of sommeliers” were recognized by the jury members.
Best Online Store: Bodeboca. The jury celebrated “the unbeatable online positioning that successfully brings results on the main search engines.’’ We particularly like the way they mix sales and content and the quality of their wine stories.
Best Winery Store: Osborne. An interesting element of their offer is the possibility of doing self-guided tastings “improving interaction for the client.”
Best Merchant: Alma Vinos Únicos. Winner for the second consecutive year for “their contribution to sell wines from small producers and their initiatives geared to a young audience to promote wine consumption as well as their excellent work in the hospitality sector in Spain.” We love their portfolio of wines and the professional attitude of the team (some of them are even trying their hand as winemakers).
Special Award - Personality of the year 2017: Juan Vázquez, managing director of Bodegas Martín Códax. The award acknowledges the work of the cooperatives —undoubtedly Martín Códax is one of the most successful examples in the country. In his speech, Vázquez talked about the terrible fires that have recently ravaged Galicia and that also damaged some of Martín Codax’s facilities.
Special Lifetime Award 2017: Francisco Hurtado de Amézaga, winemaker and technical & production director at Bodegas de los Herederos del Marqués de Riscal. A member of the founding family, Hurtado de Amézaga shared the story of how Riscal arrived in Rueda. It was partly thanks to his mother (“You don’t find anything because you don’t ask,” she told him) who recommended him to find the person who sent wines to his father over the years and partly thanks to winemaker Emile Peynaud: “You must be stupid if you don’t build a winery here right now to make this coming vintage.”
Special Jury Prize (awarded posthumously): Juli Soler. The most emotionally charged moment of the evening as Ferrán Centelles remembered the great visionary who discovered Ferrán Adriá, changed many preconceived ideas about the experience of dining and about what a restaurant should be. Above all, his love of wine was unrivaled and he was responsible for training a whole generation of the country’s top sommeliers.
Best Spanish Winemaker IWC 2017: Sergio Martínez (Emilio Lustau)
Best Spanish Red Wine IWC 2017: Secastilla 2012, Viñas del Vero (Grupo González Byass, Somontano)
Best Spanish White IWC 2017: Joan Giné Blanc 2015, Buil & Giné (Priorat)
Best Spanish wine IWC 2017: Tradición Palo Cortado VORS 30 años, Bodegas Tradición (Jerez)
Presided once again 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; Canadian sommelier and molecular pairings creator François Chartier (who incidentally presented our award); 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; Salvador Manjón, director of La Semana Vitivinícola and José Luis Benítez, general director of the Spanish Wine Federation (FEV).