Home Winners > Winners 2014 > FRANCE: South & South-West: Reds

Winner Details

France: South & South-West – Reds

2014: Gold: 7; Silver: 11; Bronze: 10: Commended: 7
2013: Gold: 1; Silver: 7; Bronze: 6; Commended: N/A
Must-list status: 50%
Overall SWA performance 2014: A-

Sommeliers seem to have the same sort of relationship with Southern French Reds that the British public do with curling: three or four years of general disinterest, followed by an explosion of excitement.

Well, after four years of the odd Gold and desultory feedback, this was one of those Sochi years. With a record 28 medals, seven of them Gold, we half expected Clare Balding to come through the door with a television crew and start grilling our tasters about how many hours of training they put in a day.

‘I found a lot of the wines to be really refreshing, which is different to what I’ve found in the past. But they’re still really individual and special,’ said Morgan Vanderkamer of Thornton’s Restaurant.

Bizarrely, given the differences in medal count, the feedback here was less universally positive than for the Southern French Whites – and plenty of wines were weeded out along the way. But what the category lacked in consistency, it made up for in moments of genuine excitement.

If the whites were a Burt Bacharach album of generally pleasant, inoffensive content, the reds popped and crackled with anger and ambition, mixing out-and-out failure with hair-raising success in the ‘don’t give a damn’ fashion of early Velvet Underground.

It was significant, for instance, that, along with great value gluggers (which we might have expected), the Gold List also featured two wines over £11 and a couple that our tasters felt were sufficiently good to merit a place despite being over £20. Without a big-name region behind them, they would, admittedly, be a hand-sell and on a cash margin, but, crucially, the quality was there.


This year’s total of 28 medals for Southern French Reds is more than the past three years added together.

From the Tasting Teams

This is the most organically farmed part of France and so you are looking for purity of expression, a sense of place and good relative value.’ Xavier Le-Bellego, Forburys Restaurant

‘The quality was really there for the price – it was a good average, even if the styles were up and down.’ Julien Sahut, China Tang at The Dorchester

‘These wines were perfect for the South of France’s rich and homely food.’ Roger Jones, The Harrow at Little Bedwyn

‘The South is often still seen as a source of cheap wine, and maybe if you’re an ambitious winemaker it’s quite difficult to get over that hurdle. Throwing lots of oak and trying too hard is viewed as a way of saying you’re serious.’
Peter McCombie MW, team leader