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First ever ‘French Champions’ awarded at VIN

Published:  02 February, 2023

The first-ever edition of The French Champion Awards took place at VIN, the flagship trade tasting dedicated to French wines in London organised by Business France, the French governmental trade agency.

The awards were created to celebrate the UK wine trade, which plays a key role in raising the profile of French wine in the UK market, across four categories; Best importer for France, Best supermarket for France, Best indie retailer for France and Best restaurant for France.

Businesses were nominated and voted for by a panel of over 50 British trade professionals with three finalists selected in each category.

Celebrated commentator and wine expert Joe Wadsack was joined by Julie Poirot, agricultural attaché at the French Embassy in the UK, to present the awards.

At the event, Wadsack commented, “French wines have enjoyed a long love story with the UK, and many importers, wine merchants, multiple retailers and restaurants alike have dedicated entire teams to source and help British consumers to discover the best France has to offer. 

“France’s winemakers successfully keep up with the demands of our market and come up with quality wines at all price points, but none of these amazing wines would end up on our tables without the curiosity and dedication of passionate British buyers.”

The nominees for ‘Best importer for France’ were Daniel Lambert, The Wine Society & Jeroboams. The Wine Society took home the award, with a nod to the buying team’s carefully curated range of French wines, which, to this day, still represents more than half of the range.

The ‘Best supermarket for France’ was Waitrose, which was nominated alongside Marks & Spencer and Lidl, all of which were praised for including both big names and “hidden gems”.

The ‘Best indie retailer for France’ category saw Vagabond Wines, Amathus and Lea & Sandeman nominated, with the latter, which boasts over 500 French wines in its portfolio, taking the prize.

Finally, the ‘Best restaurant for France’ French Champion Award was taken home by Chelsea institution, ‘Le Colombier,’ in recognition of the quality of its exclusively French wine list. The restaurant was nominated alongside Club Gascon and Soif.

The VIN tasting event saw over 300 UK wine professionals sign up to meet 52 exhibitors and taste over 600 wines representing around 50 AOCs from across every French wine region. 

The exhibitors included UK importers, French producers and even dVine, a sommelier-friendly wine tech brand, making it the apt occasion to celebrate the UK trade’s longstanding affinity with French wine.