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Winner Details

FRANCE: Alsace

2014: Gold: 3; Silver: 2; Bronze: 8; Commended:  5
2013: Gold: 2; Silver: 5; Bronze: 6; Commended: N/A
Must-list status: 20%
Overall SWA performance 2014: B-

Your average sommelier’s relationship with Alsace is like that between Anna Karenina and Count Vronsky: they know that, practically, it’s wrong – and probably doomed. But they love each other so much they just can’t stop themselves.

Flute bottles? Germanic writing? A confusing mish-mash of sweet and dry wines? Bring it on! And who cares if the public couldn’t put a pin within 200km of the place on a map. As Mark Thornhill of The Rockingham Arms pointed out, it could always be worse – the wines could be German.

‘Alsace is easier for us to sell than German or Austrian Riesling because it doesn’t carry the baggage of history,’ he said.

Riesling has, oddly, underperformed here over the past few years, so it was great to see a few medals (and a Gold) for the grape this time, and our tasters were absolutely delighted with their other two Golds as well.

‘Right from the aperitif [the Zinck Pinot Gris] would go through the entire meal. It’s the complete package,’ said Donnington Valley Hotel & Spa’s Chris Neeves. While Gus Gluck of Vinoteca described the region’s first ever red Gold as ‘a lovely wine, everything in place, with good concentration for an Alsace Pinot’.

Certainly, with no red Burgundy on the 2014 Gold List for this kind of price, it looks a bargain – and brings a real balance to our Alsace section of the Gold List probably for the first time, with a Riesling, a Pinot Gris and a red.

‘There was some amazing value here, some fantastic wines, they just can’t seem to go wrong. And obviously these are incredibly food-friendly wines,’ said Coq d’Argent’s Olivier Marie.


With three Gold-Listed wines, this was Alsace’s best-ever year in the Sommelier Wine Awards.

From the Tasting Teams

‘For me, Gewurztraminer is difficult to fit into everyday life as a sommelier.’ Xabier Alvarez, Trangallán

‘From entry level up, Alsace can offer a real USP: accessible wines in styles that suit modern palates and food. If you are on the floor, then selling wines like these is why you are being paid.’ Gus Gluck, Vinoteca

‘They might have a reputation for pairing with spicy food, but they work just as well with seafood and fish, with the slightly sweeter styles pairing with fish in creamier sauces.’
Riccardo Giacomelli, Bocca di Lupo