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Winner Details

FRANCE: Red Burgundy

2014: Gold: 2; Silver: 8; Bronze: 3; Commended: 5
2013: Gold: 2; Silver: 3; Bronze: 1; Commended: N/A
Must-list status: 85%
Overall SWA performance 2014: C

Red Burgundy must feel like a reasonably talented kid with a sweeter, cleverer, older sister. Year after year, red and white Burgundy send in a similar number of wines to SWA. And year after year, the reds are out-scored medal-wise by their Chardonnay-based sibling, with tasters lauding the blancs and, generally, grumbling about the rouges. If this were a Hollywood film, red Burgundy would probably grow up to be an evil genius intent on revenge…

Criticism in the past has often centred on drinkability, with the tasters feeling they were getting wines that were simply too tight and tough. And there are, it’s true, few things more guaranteed to make you question where your money is going than tough young red Burgundy.
But there was a lot less of that this year – probably a reflection on the more approachable nature of the 2010s and (particularly) the 2011s.

‘There was fruit and elegance on several of these wines – some nice finds. Not necessarily overly complex, but for enjoyable drinking,’ said Coq d’Argent’s Olivier Marie.

The problems this year were less in the glass and more in the wallet. Three short vintages mean that these wines come at even more of a premium than usual – and if you want to charge Porsche prices, you can’t just stick a black horse badge on a Renault Megane and expect people to be satisfied.

‘For Burgundy we are looking for something beautiful, full of flavour, something you can drink easily, but also with quite complex food – so something that ticks all the boxes,’ mused The Cricketers’ Paul Quintela. ‘We expect a lot because Burgundy costs a lot of money, which is why it so often fails.’

Certainly, while there is clearly genuine beauty to be found here, this is looking less and less like a category that can deliver at much below ‘serious white tablecloth’ level. Few of this year’s medal-winners would be under £50 on a list. 


From the Tasting Teams

‘It was all cabbages and rusticity at the bottom end.’ Neil Bruce, team leader

‘These are must-list wines, but it’s always a challenge to deliver on price and these wines reflected that.’ Annette Scarfe MW, team leader

‘It doesn’t have to be a first division wine to be a good wine. There were some very good wines here, and even at the entry level this flight showed that Burgundy can deliver.’ Olivier Marie, Coq d’Argent

‘When Burgundy is good it can be very good, when it is bad it is horrid.’
Patricia Stefanowicz MW, consultant