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Winner Details

New World: Other Red Varietals & Blends

2014: Gold 4 Silver 6 Bronze 8 Commended 11
2013: Gold 2 Silver 6 Bronze 7 Commended N/A
Must-list status: 15%
Overall SWA performance 2014: C

This is a big and fast-growing category of the Sommelier Wine Awards. There were over twice as many ‘Other Reds’ as ‘Other Whites’ this year, suggesting that it is here, rather than in white wine, that the majority of the New World’s exploration is taking place.

But, as anyone who’s ever listened to William ‘Captain Kirk’ Shatner’s frankly baffling version of ‘Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds’ would doubtless agree, just because you can do something, doesn’t necessarily mean that you should. The drop-out rate here was one of the highest of the competition.

Judges complained about harsh tannins, too much sugar and the kind of over-oaking that the New World’s winemakers are mostly leaving behind in their single varietal wines. Any question marks about winemaking were further exacerbated by the practical realities of how easy (or not) it would be to shift these kinds of wine.

‘Wines that don’t fit into an obvious pigeonhole need to have something to say for themselves and not enough here did,’ said team leader Simon Woods succinctly.

While there were a few ‘everything but the kitchen sink’ blends, the most successful tended to be less-traditional dual varietals, often featuring Malbec and/or Merlot. Indeed, two of the three Golds went to Malbec/Merlot blends.

And while they may have been hand-sells, our tasters could definitely see reasons to stock the medal winners.

‘There is definitely a space on the list for these, and for encouraging people to try them,’ said 45 Park Lane’s Vanessa Cinti. ‘You can sell either on grape variety – to show what it is all about – or by style, where it can be suggested as an alternative to something they know.’

From The Tasting Teams

‘This should be where you can look for good value, for wines that are soft and approachable and good value for money.’ Xavier Le-Bellego, Forburys Restaurant

‘[The Te Awa Left Field Merlot/Malbec] was a wine that just kept giving, and great value at £13.’ Roger Jones, The Harrow at Little Bedwyn

‘The prices are generally good for the quality, our Gold would be on the list at £40-50, so it wouldn’t be difficult to persuade people to try at the quality this offers for the price.’
Vanessa Cinti, 45 Park Lane