International wine writer and broadcaster Oz Clarke, has won the 2016 ‘English Wine Producers Communicator of the Year’ trophy. Oz made a special detour en route to a singing performance to accept the award in person at Vintners’ Hall on Tuesday 12th July, where The English & Welsh Wine of the Year Competition luncheon and presentation was taking place. Julia Trustram Eve, Marketing Director, English Wine Producers (EWP), thanked Oz for his support and enthusiastic communication about English and Welsh wines over many years, which had undoubtedly helped to raise their profile and image.
Simon Robinson, Chairman of English Wine Producers, who presented Oz with the award, congratulated him warmly, crediting him with being the inspiration behind his own decision to establish Hattingley Valley in Hampshire.
On accepting the trophy, Oz spoke eloquently and passionately to a captivated audience about English and Welsh wine, saying that he would like to accept the award for every year he has written about them. He reminisced about the first time he tasted English wine and how he had so enjoyed the crisp, green, distinctive, hedgerow aromas; he also remarked on just how far English wines has come over the years.
Oz talked about the wonderful English wine ‘world’, saying that the word ‘industry’ did not do it justice and that the future of English wine was very bright, adding to the assembled vineyard owners, growers and winemakers from across the UK, “This is your time now”. In characteristic Oz style, he described English wines as ‘precious, pure, cool and bright’, echoing some of the comments he made at the recent International Cool Climate Wine Symposium (ICCWS) where he treated delegates from all over the world to a presentation and tutored tasting of English still wines, marking a seminal moment for this category of wines from the UK, elevating them on to the world stage. The impact of his heart-felt words and the affect they had on those in the room was palpable.
English still wines performed particularly well this year in the English & Welsh Wine of the Year Competition, which is sponsored by Waitrose, accounting for just over 70% of all medals; sparkling wines accounted for the remaining 30%.
Other English wine champions shortlisted for ‘EWP Communicator of the Year’ included Susy Atkins, Jamie Goode, Kate Hawkins, Jancis Robinson, Matthew Hudson and previous winners, Peter Richard MW, Susie Barrie MW and Olly Smith, all of whom have been very vocal supporters of English wine.