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1–2 July 2024
Olympia London

SWA 2024 judging returns with an unparalleled on-trade line up

Following a pandemic-induced hiatus, the Sommelier Wine Awards (SWA) made a lively revival last week (12-13 March) at The Oval in London, bringing together judges from a wide pool of the UK's leading restaurants.

The competition, which stands alone in Britain as the only awards focused solely on wines aimed at the restaurant sector, is judged ‘by the on-trade, for the on-trade’, delivering an unrivalled platform for showcasing the best from suppliers’ portfolios.

Agile Media partnered with Imbibe to revive and run the event, with new Chair, Isa Bal MS of the now two-Michelin star Trivet Restaurant, presiding over the teams of sommeliers assembled to judge the wines.

And those judging teams came from far and wide, with London-based Matteo Furlan of The Dorchester, Diana Rollan of D&D Restaurants and Joshua Castle of Noble Rot sharing expertise with Edinburgh’s Glen Montgomery of Eòrna, Newcastle’s Vanessa Stoltz from Pine and Natasha Senina of Chewton Glen, to name just a very few among the many leading lights of the restaurant world joining the fray.

Over the two days, our judges were tasked with ranking the blind-tasted flights and picking out those worthy of Gold, Silver and Bronze medals, with the crème de la crème – the Trophy winners – then decided by Bal and the team leaders in a final taste off of the Gold wines.

Bal described the event as “a very friendly environment with lots of good tasting and lots of peer-to-peer exchange of knowledge”, adding, “I really enjoyed it and it is very good to get all of the sommeliers together judging like this”.

The professionalism of those judging at SWA was a given, but there was also a palpable buzz during breaks with so many of the good and the great in the sommelier firmament rubbing shoulders and catching up with colleagues while exchanging views on the various flights tasted.  “Great experience, good vibe” Commented Matteo Furlan of The Dorchester with Elton Muco of 67 Pall Mall adding “Great feeling to judge for SWA and with Isa Bal, Outstanding panel judges and overall great sommeliers”.

The Gold, Silver and Bronze results of the SWA judging will be revealed in the May issue of Harpers and on website, with the comprehensive Gold Book listing – complete with notes and ranking for all the wines – coming out in time for Imbibe Live at the beginning of July, where some of the Trophy winners will also be revealed in a dedicated prize giving and tasting on 1st July – get your tickets for the event to join and try some of the winning wines.

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