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Winner Details

FRANCE: Bordeaux

2014: Gold: 1; Silver: 14; Bronze: 4; Commended: 6
2013: Gold: 2; Silver: 9; Bronze: 0; Commended: N/A
Must-list status: 70%
Overall SWA performance 2014: C+

With this year’s 18 medals second only to 2012’s haul of 20, on one level you’d have to mark down 2014’s SWA as a pretty good one for Bordeaux. 

But whereas the latter (fuelled by two great vintages in 2009 and 2010) brought an extraordinary seven Gold-Listed wines (from £5-20), this year there was just one – the Château Mille Roses, and that was getting on for £20.

In the past, there has been some truly vituperative reaction to the quality of the cheaper wines (‘utter crap’ remains one of the more printable comments from last year) and it was noticeable that few cheap clarets were even entered this year. It’s as though the Bordelais have abandoned this land to the Chileans.

And on this evidence, they are probably right to do so. With the odd exception, such as the impressive Silver for Château de Blissa at £6.25, this is a category that doesn’t really seem to get into its stride until the £10 mark. This was true even for the whites – though the barrier here is perhaps less price than the whole concept of Bordeaux blanc.

‘In my place it’s pretty difficult to sell,’ said Marcin Oziębły of The Albert Square Chophouse. ‘Some customers just ask for it specifically and the price doesn’t really matter to them. For the others it’s quite hard to persuade them.’

Given the lack of much cheap Sauvignon coming in from the Loire this year, the Lurton, in particular, can consider itself unlucky to have missed out on a place on the Gold List – as can one or two of the Silver-winning reds, which came under serious consideration only to fall narrowly short.

It’s probably significant that the majority of the latter were either 2009 or 2010. Not only were these excellent years, but they also have the advantage of having had a bit of time to settle down. More than perhaps any other region of France, Bordeaux’s wines need some time in bottle to soften the tannins – even for wines of no serious pretension.

From the Tasting Teams

‘You’re looking for affordable, drinkable Bordeaux. The problem is that Bordeaux struggles with affordability and drinkability…’ Peter McCombie MW, team leader

‘Could you recommend this in a restaurant in a month’s time? I would say no.’ Nigel Lister, team leader

‘There was a stamp of typicity with these [Right Bank] wines. We could see that there was a certain style at play.’
Zigmars Grinbergs, Hotel du Vin Brighton