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Winner Details

New World: Chardonnay, Rest of the New World

2014: Gold 2 Silver 3 Bronze 10 Commended 8
2013: Gold 0 Silver 1 Bronze 6 Commended N/A
Must-list status: 20%
Overall SWA performance 2014: C


Apart from a heartening (and long overdue) frisson from New Zealand and a cameo from Brazil, this section was dominated by Chile and the US. And both countries’ performance was as predictable as an end-of-season collapse at The Emirates.

The North Americans delivered wines that were big of price tag, big of fruit and big of oak; wines that practically chanted U-S-A as they were glooped heavily from the bottle. With flavour dialled up to 11 and the subtlety filter set to ‘low’, these were wines that, as The Lost Angel’s Thomas Theuermeister put it, did ‘exactly what you would expect from a Californian Chardonnay’.

While the Americans stood in the middle of the dance floor, throwing shapes and being loud, the Chileans did what they always do: hovered on the edge of the party, neither taking part nor sitting out but faffing around somewhere in between.

There were wines that had sweetness and fruit and oak dialled up to about 9, with the subtlety filter set to ‘medium’ and not much to get excited about. They were so middle-of-the-road that they might as well have had catseyes on the bottles.

‘There was nothing wrong with the Casablanca flight, but they weren’t very exciting and we didn’t want to go to bed with them,’ said Nigel ‘hard-to-get’ Lister, team leader.

Despite an improved medal count on the previous few years, neither of these countries showed the kind of ‘moves to elegance’ displayed by Oz and South Africa.

FOOTNOTE: Excludes Chardonnay from Australia & South Africa.

From The Tasting Teams

‘This was a great flight, with a really good range of wines, and showed how good modern Australian Chardonnay can be.’
Gregg Lambert, Galvin La Chapelle

‘There’s only one New Zealand wine picked up a medal. That’s really disappointing because there’s some really great New Zealand Chardonnay out there. It’s as if they almost forget there are good examples other than Sauvignon Blanc.’ Simon Woods, team leader