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Winner Details

Italy: Central reds, including Montepulciano d’Abruzzo

2014 Gold: 1; Silver: 4; Bronze: 7; Commended: 4
2013 Gold: 3; Silver: 3; Bronze: 3; Commended: N/A
Must-list status:  15%
Overall SWA performance 2014 D-

Central Italy is a bit like a low-budget film. It doesn’t have any big stars (appellations) attached or the slickest production values, so the script and acting have to be bloody good. And if they are, our tasters have proved in the past that they’re happy to put them on the Gold List as a counterpoint to the crowd-pleasing blockbusters from Tuscany and Chianti.

This year, however, our tasters were shuffling their feet shortly after the trailers finished, and made their excuses and left once they’d finished their popcorn. Just one Gold and not many more Silvers is a pretty poor return for a part of the competition that can usually be relied on for some left-field excellence across the price points.

‘You would have thought that in central Italy the quality of the fruit would be pretty good,’ grumbled disillusioned team leader Peter McCombie. ‘But the one Silver our team gave isn’t cheap, at £15, and higher up there was too much oak.’

‘You would expect some easy-drinking wines, but with some affinity for food, probably at good prices,’ agreed fellow team leader Jenny Mackenzie. ‘The best wines were like this – kept simple, fresh and straightforward. But too many tasted as if they had been tricked up for the market.’

Advice from the stalls? Forget the flashy CGI, guys, and get back to a good story, simply told…

FOOTNOTE: includes wines from Emilia-Romagna, Umbria, Marche, Lazio, Abruzzo & Molise.

From the Tasting Teams

‘There are some good Montepulciano wines at the top end; super concentrated, with intensity.’ Ronan Sayburn MS, consultant

‘The price and style of most of these wines was better at the lower end, with simpler, fresher wine styles, but didn’t sit comfortably together higher up where the quality seemed to be lacking.’
Richard Howard, Blakeney Hotel