Home Winners > Winners 2014 > FRANCE: Rhône

Winner Details


2014: Gold: 8; Silver: 24; Bronze: 16; Commended: 20
2013: Golds: 7; Silvers: 10; Bronzes: 8; Commended: N/A
Must-list status: 80%
Overall SWA performance 2014: B+

The relationship between the Rhône and the tasters in the Sommelier Wine Awards has been a dreamy love story to rival Bogey and Bacall. This year, perhaps for the first time, there were signs of the romance starting to fade into something slightly more practical. Less ‘put your sexy underwear on and let’s go dancing’ and more ‘give us a kiss, then take out the wheelie bin’.

This is not to suggest that our tasters weren’t happy with what they found, but more that rather than falling head over heels in love with the Northern Reds (as they did in 2012) or the Whites (every year), this year they simply found a lot of wines that would be good for filling places on a wine list, with one or two atypical grumbles about price and lack of concentration.

This year’s Golds were spread neatly across reds and whites, with a decent range of prices, too. Côtes du Rhônes under a tenner, Southern Rhône villages between £15 and £25, and the Northern Reds and Whites at the ‘birthdays and anniversaries’ end of things.

‘These are hotter climate wines, but with finesse and freshness, so they appeal to a lot of tastes,’ said Etrusca Restaurant’s Luigi Buonanno happily.

True. Although the ‘hotter climate’ element was heavily dialled down in many of this year’s entries, following a 2012 vintage that was decidedly sparing in its sunshine. This perhaps explains why the warmer Southern Rhône Reds were more favourably received than their northern counterparts, which left our tasters pleased and disappointed in equal measure.

‘They’re too expensive for the quality,’ sighed Giuseppe Longobardi of Restaurant 23. ‘If you don’t look at the price, they’re very nice wines.’

The same, definitely, could be said for the whites. There were few issues over quality but how easy they would be to sell was a real issue right from the start.

‘White Rhône is on the edge of the spectrum for most people – it appeals to a small section of the drinking public,’ warned team leader Neil Bruce.

If you can take on the challenge of the prices, there are plenty of sexy wines here. Though whether they’ll take out the wheelie bin is another matter…

From the Tasting Teams

‘Our Whites were a brilliant flight – but for more experienced tasters who would know something and would be open to experimenting if you suggested and explained the style.’ Paul Quintela, The Cricketers

‘I liked a lot of these wines, they showed typical Southern Rhône character, fruit and spice, and had bags of food-friendly style.’ Fabio Lega, Hereford Road Restaurant

‘The Northern Reds needed a little more time, which presents a challenge for restaurants with limited ability to store wines.’ Victor Amaro,
Hotel du Vin Tunbridge Wells