Winners of Gold Star Awards revealed
With over 500 wines typically available in any NOffLA outlet, the Gold Star Awards help customers to ensure they pick out the very best varieties available here in Ireland
17 October 2014
NOffLA speaks: Knowledge and excellence
As we approach a budget in which, we are promised, levels of austerity may be on the decline, the reality is that a healthy independent retail environment remains a distant memory. In such circumstances NOffLA members need to remember that two of their own strengths will continue to help them through these difficult times. Knowledge and excellence are the most important elements in providing the very best customer experience that will ensure the survival of the independent off-trade in Ireland. Both of these attributes are demonstrated in the Gold Star Awards scheme.
With over 500 wines typically available in any NOffLA outlet, the Gold Star Awards enable consumers to identify some of the very best wines available in Ireland. These awards demonstrate the knowledge and excellence of NOffLA’s members and associate members. The awards highlight the very best of what our trade has to offer – and demonstrate the knowledge of our members in recognising that excellence. Customers will return to outlets that provide both knowledge and excellence. Although consumer spending may be more limited, the solution is not cheaper prices, but to offer greater value for money. A customer experience driven by knowledge and excellence provides that added value and distingushes NOffLA outlets from other retailers.
The Gold Star Awards offer a great opportunity for all NOffLA members to build on the success of the show by using this expertise to maximise the marketing opportunities available through the award-winning wines as we enter the trade’s busiest season. Capitalise on the Gold Star Awards by ensuring that your outlet has a range of award-winning wines over the next few months.
The equally prestigious ‘White Wine of the Year 2014-2015,’ went to Findlater Wine & Spirit Group for Louis Jadot Couvent des Jacobins Bourgogne Chardonnay (France).
Mackenway Distributors Ltd was equally proud of winning five of the 15 categories within the Gold Star Awards for 2015.
In winning the Wine of the Year Award for Duca del Salento Salice Salentino Reserve 2010, Taserra Wine Merchants has clearly identified a wine that is exceptional. This wine was chosen from the 15 category award winners as being the most outstanding wine choice for the 2014/15 awards. This wine was the clear selection from amongst more than 600 wines that were submitted to NOffLA for consideration amongst the Gold Star Awards.
Winning a Gold Star Award is a distinctive accolade for the featured wines and also provides a strong marketing platform – particularly in the all-important pre-Christmas selling period.
NOffLA chairperson, Evelyn Jones, believes that the Gold Star Awards play a key role in communicating the variety of excellent wines available in Ireland, at different price points; “The awards are categorised by price so have gained a reputation, over the past 12 years, for being the essential guide for selecting great wines at any price,” said Jones. “There is sometimes a misconception that the higher the price, the better the quality of wine. But, four of NOffLA’s Gold Star winners retail at under €10 so we are confident that consumers will be able to pick up some superb wines, whether they want to spend €10, €15 or €20.”
These awards genuinely represent the very best of what is available across the independent off-trade in Ireland. What is distinctive about these awards is that they are the selection of the very best according to wine distributors, wine retailers and wine writers. As NOffLA chairperson, Evelyn Jones, has explained: “The tasters have no idea what wines they are tasting, or by whom they have been submitted. So this really would appear to reflect the importance of the pre-selection process of wines by wholesalers, before they are submitted to NOffLA. More and more wholesalers are spending a huge amount of time on this selection every year so, for those who do not take the time to pre-select, I do recommend that this is an area on which you should concentrate.”
Evelyn Jones expressed the gratitude of all those attending the Gold Star Awards to those who had helped to select the winning wines. In particular, the NOffLA chairperson expressed the association’s thanks to leading Irish wine writers, Liam Campbell and Leslie Williams for conducting the final stage of the blind tasting for the 2015 Gold Star Awards.
Liam Campbell is the wine editor of the Irish Independent and a journalist and judge working with many titles, including the Dubliner magazine. He has been a member of the Irish Guild of Sommeliers since 2003 and a juror for the Michaelangelo International Wine Awards in 2013 and for the Concours Mondial de Bruxelles since May 2011.
Leslie Williams is wine columnist for the Irish Examiner where he also writes on beer and travel. He teaches regular wine courses and has worked as a freelance food and wine journalist since 2002. Williams is also a contributing editor of the Bridgestone/McKenna Food Guides and treasurer of the Irish Food Writers Guild.
The Gold Star Awards could not be a reality without the partnership of the independent off-trade and their suppliers.
The awards are a valuable opportunity for our members and equally importantly for more and more suppliers. The National Off-Licence Association is keen to underline the effort made by distributors, who make the effort to ensure that the latest vintages are submitted for the awards. They are finding that they benefit the most because they are in the best position to ensure that adequate supplies of the award winning wines are in stock and are promoted in our shops. In particular, NOffLA is very pleased that a number of suppliers are now identifying the awards by producing special labels which allow customers to easily identify them.
It is also important to point out that SIP Drinks Show is one of the important initiatives that allow independent retailers to work together with suppliers to further enhance the great business success story that the Irish wine market undoubtedly is. It is important that NOffLA members acknowledge the importance of this ongoing partnership by supporting our associate members who supported the association in this instance:
- Ampersand Wines
- Barry & Fitzwilliam
- Bulmers Ltd
- C&C Gleeson
- Cassidy Wines Distribution Ltd
- Diageo Ireland
- Discover the Origin
- Edward Dillon & Company Ltd
- Findlater Wine & Spirit Group
- Gleeson, incorporating Gilbeys
- Heineken Ireland Ltd
- Inter Rhône
- Irish Distillers Pernod Ricard
- Liberty Wines
- Mackenway Distributors Ltd
- Molson Coors Ireland
- Santa Rita Estates
- Taserra Wine Merchants