Home Winners > Winners 2014 > FRANCE: South & South West: Whites

Winner Details

France: South & South-West – Whites

2014: Gold: 0; Silver: 5; Bronze: 9; Commended: 7
2013: Gold: 0; Silver: 4; Bronze: 3; Commended: N/A
Must-list status: 50%
Overall SWA performance 2014: C+

Submissions here jumped by more than 30% compared with last year, and while this may be partly due to submitters having more confidence in the wines that are coming out of the deep south, the real issue is probably value for money. This is one of the few areas in France still able to supply wines at half-decent prices – and all but two of our medal winners were under £10.

For sommeliers, these are wines that ought to push a lot of buttons, with myriad styles from homely, curvaceous Viogniers to washed-out heroin-chic Picpouls and plenty of blends and varieties in between.

‘The best had oily, textural qualities,’ said Hotel du Vin Henley’s Michael Harrison, sounding more like a wig salesman than a sommelier.

Yet while the overall feedback was positive, with our tasters happy to acknowledge recent improvements in winemaking and even talk about consistency, when it came to awarding high-end medals they were more circumspect.

Picpoul, for instance, might be the thinking man’s Pinot Grigio, but it has never made much of an impression at the Sommelier Wine Awards. And on this evidence, unlike PG, it’s still not yet a must-stock, managing just a couple of well-priced Silvers.

And while Chardonnay and Viognier have been popular with the judges over the past few years, none of them got beyond Silver either this year.

This was an odd example of the tasters generally liking a lot of what they tasted (so very little negative feedback), but not quite having enough enthusiasm to propel anything to Gold. Still, it doesn’t mean that there’s no good stuff here. This very definitely looks like a category where it’s worth exploring the medals yourself.

From the Tasting Teams

‘This is an excellent area for diversity, for finding wines at styles and price points that can really add interest and good value to the list. There were some really appealing wines to be found here.’ Diana Rollan, Hakkasan London

‘They were very accessible. You could give these wines to anyone and they would enjoy them – fans of Sauvignon Blanc, fans of Chardonnay, it doesn’t matter.’
Sandro Lyhs, Oxo Tower Bar