Winner Details

Germany & Austria Red

2014 Gold: 5; Silver: 10; Bronze: 4; Commended: 10
2013 Gold: 4; Silver: 7; Bronze: 8; Commended: N/A
Must-list status: 50%
Overall SWA performance 2014 B

Normally, German and Austrian reds are as rare in this competition as members of Amnesty International in the Russian parliament. And as a result they usually merit little more by way of analysis than a short paragraph at the end of the whites.

But the fact that this year we have had to separate our analysis of them off from the whites tells you everything you need to know. We got big numbers, high quality and very happy tasters. Indeed, there’s a very real case for suggesting that this is the story of this year’s competition.

As with the whites, most of the impetus came from Austria, with a raft of fascinating red wines in a wide variety of styles. And while there was an occasional tendency to be a bit overenthusiastic with the oak at the upper levels, these were generally wines that were marked out by their balance.

‘They’re food-friendly and sappy, with juicy fruit, a savoury character and a bit of grip adding interest. They’d be great with fish, pasta, creamy sauces and mushrooms, but with enough guts to go with game as well,’ said a smitten Gordon Lawrence of Fifteen Cornwall. They’d probably work with cornflakes too…

Indeed, with other classic European light red styles such as Loire Cab Franc, Beaujolais and red Burgundy all failing to deliver anything affordable this year, the sublime Triebaumer Blaufränkisch had the ‘crunchy red wine’ slot practically to itself – justifiably picking up a Critics Choice and a Food Match as well as a place on the Gold List.

‘It’s very elegant and not at all over-extracted,’ said Le Cordon Bleu’s Matthieu Longuere MS. ‘I’d pair it with tuna.’

 From the Tasting Teams

‘We need to pay attention to what’s going on with Pinot Noir in Germany and Austria. People should probably be looking here after Burgundy, rather than always to New Zealand. They are not cheap, but they are very good.’ Gergely Barsi Szabó, Bread Street Kitchen

‘If you think of the quality, these wines are definitely worth the money – the issue is getting people to try them. It’s easier with sub-£8 bottles that can be under £30 on a list.’
Laura Rhys MS, team leader