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Winner Details

Germany & Austria

No red Golds this year, but a quality performance from Rieslings, both dry and medium, and our first ever Grüner Veltliner Gold-Listed wine, too

You might think that taking Alsace out and giving it its own section (as we did this year) would leave the Germanics section a little thin. In fact, Germany has long dominated this category, and four wines on the Gold List was a strong performance again this year for this section.

Moreover, while there were no red Golds this year (unlike last), our tasters did, finally, find some medals for Grüner Veltliner – a grape that has been the dampest of squibs in the Sommelier Wine Awards until this year. So congratulations to Weingut Fred Loimer, for breaking the grape’s Gold List duck.

But no surprise that it was a pricey example.

‘It was very clear that the best wines were the more expensive wines. Most of the lower price-point wines – under £10 – were lacking in one way or another,’ said journalist Natasha Hughes.

Nor were the tasters too sure about the growing number of oak-aged versions they were seeing. ‘If someone has experienced GV before and you bring that bottle to the table, then they might be disappointed,’ said Luigi Buonanno of Etrusca Restaurants.

There were no such stylistic controversies surrounding Riesling, with wines of purity, precision and balance. Unusually, the drier versions were received rather better than the off-drys in the early stages, with tasting teams complaining of ‘too much sherbet dip character’ in the latter. But the grape hit its straps in the final stages, with plenty of Golds and Silvers.

In fact, there could probably have been more Golds awarded – but the tasters were admirably commercial in their thinking. ‘This was a very popular flight. Whenever we have a flight of Rieslings, we all get very excited, and then you look at the trends in the market…’ sighed Gergely Barsi Szabó of Borough Wines.

Still, they couldn’t stay down for long. ‘These were wines that put a smile on your face,’ said River Café’s Emily O’Hare. ‘They were really fun to drink.’And in the Paulinshof Brauneberger Juffer Riesling Spätlese they found something of a star. ‘It was absolutely astonishing: lush and ripe with gorgeous balancing acidity,’ swooned consultant Caspar Auchterlonie.

‘It was a shoe-in with Asian cuisine,’ added consultant Maria Rodriguez. ‘It would be about £50 on a list, but it would be worth every penny.’

The Axel Pauly Generations Riesling, meanwhile, was described as ‘a really solid Riesling that is great at under £40 on a list’, by Hakkasan’s Christine Parkinson in her role as Gold List co-ordinator, indicating why this wine found its way to the Critics’ Choice table.

‘It’s a restrictive kind of market. If you like Riesling, you drink Riesling. But you don’t drink Riesling if you just like wine.’ Luigi Buonanno, Etrusca Restaurants