Home Winners > Winners 2014 > ITALY: Tuscany, including Montalcino

Winner Details

Italy: Tuscany, including Montalcino 

2014 Gold: 3; Silver: 10; Bronze: 3; Commended: 7
2013 Gold: 7; Silver: 13; Bronze: 2; Commended: N/A
Must-list status: 35%
Overall SWA performance 2014 D+

Tuscany is the Italian ego concentrated and put in a bottle: big wines and big prices come with the territory. And though our panels in the past have been aware of this they’ve generally felt that the wines were good enough to merit the bragadoccio.

The problem, of course, comes when you strut around in an open-necked shirt and don’t have the physique to carry it off. And this year, while there was plenty of strutting and crowing, the wines were more Charles Hawtrey than Charles Atlas.

While the past two or three SWAs have seen the tasters falling over themselves to bestow places on the Gold List (seven last year!), this year the story from tasting team after tasting team was the same. ‘It’s the lack of care and too much care – over-extracting and using too much wood and not getting anything that was pleasant,’ sighed Bread Street Kitchen’s Gergely Barsi Szabó.

It wasn’t necessarily too much oak per se – it’s that there wasn’t the usual turbo-charged fruit to back it up. Several tasters, amazingly, talked of the wines being ‘dilute’.

The Brunellos at least did have real typicity – and we had a couple that were inches off making it on to the Gold List. But despite being decanted for the tasters for quite a while the wines were still very tight. That they ended up with Silvers was purely a reflection of their drinkability, not their class. They were great wines (provided you have deep pockets) and hearteningly typical.

From the Tasting Teams

‘I think for the range of prices we didn’t seem to get the same range of quality from Tuscany that we would expect.’ Katherine Balanovsky, Michael Caines at Abode Manchester

‘With these wines, you knew where you were the whole time.’ Maxwell Allwood, Alimentum

‘One of the interesting things is that in other flights you discuss price, but in Brunello it’s a brand, a commodity, and price is less of a consideration.’
Hamish Anderson, The Tate Group



‘All the medal-winning wines from Montalcino have the freshness you expect of Sangiovese at their heart, which is part of what makes then go so well with food.’ Marco Adreani, The Pass at South Lodge