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Home News > January 2019 > The SWA wine wish list for 2019... by Chris Losh

Did you get what you want for Christmas? Socks? New corkscrew? 1500-mile long border wall?

Well, Santa comes late to the Sommelier Wine Awards, delivering his presents (entries) by the middle of Jan. With around 3000 entries, I guess we can forgive him his tardiness.

So, what battles am I looking forward to seeing, and which styles or regions am I hoping to see in our SWA Stocking when we turn up to judge at the end of February?

European whites were down last year – the understandable result of the terrible 2017 vintage – so it’d be great to see places like Sancerre, Chablis and Rias Baixas, to name but three, return to form again.

In fact, it would be lovely to see more from the Loire in general. Our tasters are always telling us how much they love the mid-weight versatility and natural zip of these wines – both red and white – so I’d be confident that they’d do well.

The same goes for the Italian Alps. It’s been one of the consistent success stories of SWA over the last five years or so, but the frost drove a hole through the medals in 2018. Time to come out swinging, guys – the vim and zip of your whites and crunchy reds are totally in the sweet spot of our tasters.

Talking of sweet, one of the enduring puzzles of SWA is the peculiarly lop-sided entry we get from Port. I mean, we all love aged tawny and colheita, course we do! But don’t neglect the red expressions, guys! We saw more Golds last year for Madeira and Rutherglen Muscat than we did for LBV, which seems weird!

Reserves, rubies and (in the days of the Coravin) even Vintage Ports are good sellers by the glass, so a cheeky medal won’t hurt your chances of getting a listing.

Finally, in fortified, I’m going to follow the yearly battle between manzanilla and fino with interest. Last year, manzanilla gave its competitor a 4-0 drubbing when it came to Golds. Surely the pride of the fino producers won’t let that happen again?

Actually, talking of hurt pride, the Champenois have a point or two to prove as well. 2018 was the first time ever when English sparkling wines outpointed their French counterparts. Can they do it again? Watch this space. Certainly, the amazing 2018 summer should give us some great still wines from the UK, whatever happens with the fizz.

Moving over to the New World, we saw a pretty solid performance last year from South Africa, Argentina and New Zealand a much improved one from the US, a superb effort from Australia – and a rather sorry one from Chile. It would be heartening to see the latter translate its decent medal count into a higher number of exciting Golds. I’ll be watching the US Pinot flights with interest, too. The wines weren’t cheap, but there was excitement there.

In fact, if there’s one thing we’d like to see a bit more from the New World, it’s excitement. For all the undoubted quality last year, we didn’t get many surprises. How fantastic it would be to get a terrific flight of Spanish varieties, some head-turning Pinot Gris or some exciting low-intervention old-vine blends.

And if there’s one thing that we really, really want SWA Santa to bring us this year, it’s plenty of orange wines, wherever they’re from. Our tasters are primed, trained and ready. Let Rudolph fly them down, we’ll flight them up, and let’s get tasting!