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Winner Details

New World: Other White Varietals & Blends

2014: Gold 1 Silver 8 Bronze 3 Commended 5
2013: Gold 0 Silver 1 Bronze 6 Commended N/A
Must-list status: 10%
Overall SWA performance 2014: C+

To paraphrase the great PG Wodehouse, it’s not hard to tell the difference between a team of sommeliers trying Other New World wines and a ray of sunshine. And this year was a familiar story.

‘I didn’t find the balance,’ said The Vineyard at Stockcross’s Romain Bourger. ‘Sometimes you had high acidity and high alcohol, but they weren’t integrated.’

The best wines (like the Amalaya Torrontés/Riesling) had a more natural feel – like they’d come fully formed from the vines, rather than bolted together in a winemaker’s lab, like some Franken-wine’s monster.

Sadly, these entries were the exception rather than the rule. Because this is the ‘experimental category’ where winemakers go to play when they’ve finished doing the ‘proper’ stuff, there’s a good deal of oak and fiddling in the winery – not all of it well judged. In fact, not much of it well judged.

‘As soon as you get over £10 they throw oak at everything,’ sighed team leader Tom Forrest, picking splinters out of his teeth. The drop-out rate here was higher than for a Parisian university in the 1960s, and explains why the tasters enjoyed the admirably well-balanced Yealands Grüner Veltliner.

Interestingly, while we do get a huge diversity of wine styles in this part of the competition, this year there was a definite move away from unusual combinations (you know, that classic Sauvignon, Pinot Blanc, Viognier mix) and towards more tried-and-tested pairings. Rhône whites, in particular, seem to be catching the eye of the New World’s winemakers, and on this evidence they’re worth the effort.

And it might be early days in the relationship between New Zealand and Grüner Veltliner (with production still tiny), but there’s clearly a spark in there that could flame up into something bigger in the next few years.


This was the second year on the trot that this category’s top medal has gone to a New Zealand Grüner Veltliner.

From The Tasting Teams

‘The good ones here had a more natural feel. Less forced. Less “fake”.’ Romain Bourger, The Vineyard at Stockcross

‘It’s not necessarily that they’re all badly made. But perhaps they’ve got the grapes in the wrong places.
Laura Rhys MS, team leader