Home Winners > Winners 2014 > NEW WORLD: Shiraz/Syrah, Grenache, Mourvedre & Rhône Blends: Rest of the New World

Winner Details

New World: Shiraz/Syrah, Grenache, Mourvedre & Rhône Blends, excluding Australia

2014: Gold 3 Silver 7 Bronze 7 Commended 14
2013: Gold 4 Silver 8 Bronze 10 Commended N/A
Must-list status: 30%
Overall SWA performance 2014: C-

This is always a fascinating part of the Sommelier Wine Awards – and about as hard to predict as snail racing. Three or four wines usually make it on to the Gold List from here, but the way in which the medals are split among the countries varies hugely from year to year.

All of which suggests that (a) outside Australia the grape hasn’t quite settled in yet, and (b) vintage variation is more of a factor. This is certainly the case in New Zealand, where even the heat of the Gimblett Gravels doesn’t guarantee enough sun to ripen Syrah every year.

No such problems in Chile. ‘Everything here up to £10 is jammy, alcoholic and hot,’ said consultant Ronan Sayburn MS. ‘Above that, it’s a totally different style: fresh, elegant and balanced. I guess there’s the temptation to plant on the valley floors where it’s fertile and hot, but that makes it higher in alcohol.’

Since few people associate California with Syrah/Shiraz, it was heartening to see some medals going to the States at, by their standards, reasonable prices. But overall, South Africa probably put in the best performance of all the non-Australian countries.

Only one Gold, but plenty of well-priced Silvers to back it up showed that this was a popular style. ‘The consistency was good across these wines,’ said Hakkasan London’s Diana Rollan. ‘I don’t find it difficult to sell South African Syrahs at Hakkasan because the modern wines, made in a fresh and fruit-forward style, can be quite flexible with food.’

FOOTNOTE: Includes wines where Syrah, Grenache, or Mourvèdre is the main varietal, or Rhône blends. Excludes Shiraz/Grenache/Mourvèdre/Rhône Blends from Australia.

From the Tasting Teams

‘There was quite a lot of complexity in these wines. It’s an attractive style that South Africa is doing well, and the wines are cleaner and softer than they were in the old days.’ Mark Graham, Oxo Tower Restaurant

‘With California you get what you pay for. There are some good wines but they cost money, which means approach with care.’ Charles Pashby-Taylor, Dabbous

‘The best [South African] wines here show a style that is useful for sommeliers: clean, fresh yet complex, very drinkable but capable of pairing with food and combining power with an elegance.’
Diego Muntoni, Oxo Tower Restaurant