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Winner Details

New World: Semillon & Semillon/Sauvignon Blanc Blends

2014: Gold 2 Silver 4 Bronze 0 Commended 4
2013: Gold 1 Silver 1 Bronze 3 Commended N/A
Must-list status: 30%
Overall SWA performance 2014: B

Semillon (and Semillon/Sauvignon blends) remains a pretty small part of the competition, but it’s growing, and it was heartening to see 10 wines picking up some form of award this year – and the first time we’ve had more than one Gold.

More important than the numbers, however, was the feedback. Our tasters very much enjoyed what they were seeing. ‘A really lovely flight,’ said team leader Natasha Hughes in the early rounds of judging. ‘We could probably have given the nod to a lot more of them.’

As often happens in SWA, however, they were held back by practical considerations. Even tasters who liked the wines admitted that, in many cases, ‘they’d be a nightmare to sell’.

The difficulties for Semillon are, first, that the public don’t know much about it, and second (and unusually for the New World), these are not just wines that improve with age, but genuinely seem to require it.

Most of the younger wines here topped out at Silver medal level, and it’s no accident that the two Golds had a good few years of bottle age on them. Which makes them instantly more expensive – though on this evidence, not prohibitively so.

‘This has to be a well-made, well-matured wine,’ said Bread Street Kitchen’s Gergely Barsi Szabó. ‘If you want to make a difference on your list, then list some of these and people will be really happy.’

From The Tasting Teams

‘Australia’s Semillons are on a par with their Rieslings in terms of quality.’ Mark Perlaki, Hotel du Vin Harrogate

‘This was a very strong flight. Even the cheaper wines were fine.’
Jenny Mackenzie, team leader