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Winner Details

New World: Viognier

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

How do you like your Viognier? Do you like it big, buxom and exuberant, or calmer, more elegant and restrained?
Well, fans of both types would have found something to their liking here. This is a category that has yet to be ‘claimed’ by any particular country (though on this evidence Chile is closest), and with wines from across the New World and a fair bit of experimentation going on, it was highly varied stylistically.

Five years ago this category was exuberant – but too much so: colossal amounts of sweet, overblown fruit with all the class of Barbara Windsor. In 2012, our tasters lamented that that same blowzy ‘Viognierness’ had been stripped out altogether, leaving a pale imitation of the grape variety.

But while there were a few wines this year that wouldn’t shut up, and a few that had nothing to say at all, generally our tasters detected a growing number of wineries managing to find an attractive middle ground of entertaining conversation.

‘We sell quite a bit of Viognier, and there was some good value in here,’ said Charles Van Wyk of FJB Hotels.

Five medal winners under £9 was the grape’s best-ever performance in the Sommelier Wine Awards, and makes this a useful place to go looking for by-the-glass bargains. But just as impressive as the slew of cheapies was the fact that our tasters saw sufficient class in the Eberle Winery Viognier at £15 to award it Gold, too. It’s proof of what the New World can do with the grape when it really sets its mind to it.

From The Tasting Teams

‘[The Luis Felipe Edwards] is a lovely, delicate wine. It would be an excellent one to sell by the glass.’ Michael Moore, Enigma 88