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Belfast Winemaker Scoops Gold at International Sommelier Awards

Belfast-based wine merchants Peter and Neal McAlindon, who operate family-owned Direct Wine Shipments, have scooped a gold medal in the international Sommelier Wine Awards for the wine they produce in Spain.

The McAlindons started producing the super-premium Creu Celta red in small batches in 2003 following an initial investment of €100,000 and started to win awards almost immediately. Current production stands at just under 1,000 cases or 12,000 bottles annually. There will be capacity to increase production volumes in the future.

The gold award was given to the 2016 Creu Celta vintage which retails at £21.99 per bottle.

Started in 2007, the Sommelier Wine Awards have grown to become the first point of reference for the UK’s on-trade wine buyers as well as the main competition for wines trying to increase their presence in hotels, pubs, bars and restaurants across the world.

The judges include Master Sommeliers and Masters of Wine who all serve or buy wine for their venues in the on-trade, or are leading consultants developing wine lists.

All the wines are blind tasted by category and are judged on food-friendliness, versatility, typicity, personality, and value for money.

“This is the greatest award to date for Creu Celta. With each new vintage our wine is developing more complexity. As the vineyard gains maturity, the vines have a deeper root network & derive more flavour intensity & minerality. The newer vintages of Creu Celta are definitely a step up from the earlier releases and it is a privilege to work with Sylvia Puig, one of Catalunya & Spain’s best winemakers,” said Peter McAlindon

“The Sommelier Awards is one of the most respected tasting awards in the UK. It is judged by some of the greatest tasters within these islands. In light of the recent passing of our dad, Kevin, founder of Direct Wine Shipments, this is a very fitting tribute. Kevin’s dream was to produce a great wine from our own Spanish vineyard,” said Neal McAlindon

The vineyard was established in the Catalan area of Salanques in Priorat and the McAlindons have been using a mixture of old grapes (60-80 years) as well as maturing vines planted when they first started almost 18 years ago.

The grenache-based red is described as a full-bodied drink with chocolate, cherry, plum, pine and smoky nuances and is a good match for steak, slow cooked meats and hard cheeses. “It is also wonderful with many vegan and vegetarian recipes such as nut roasts, mushroom dishes, stews and curries,” added Peter.

The brothers have expanded their wine making to now include a pure syrah wine called Terra Sagrada.

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