Home Winners > Winners 2014 > ITALY: South Reds, including Sicily & Sardinia

Winner Details

Italy: South whites, including Sicily & Sardini Reds

2014 Gold: 1; Silver: 3; Bronze: 4; Commended: 7
2013 Gold: 1; Silver: 7; Bronze: 3; Commended: N/A
Must-list status: 10%
Overall SWA performance 2014 D+

The South of Italy can do good things with white grapes – as proved by the fact that the latter often outperform their red counterparts in this competition. Yes, it gets hot enough there in the summer to fry an egg on Silvio Berlusconi’s unnaturally smooth forehead, but the indigenous grapes can take it, and aided by plenty of handy sea breezes, at their best these are wines with surprising levels of freshness. Not complexity, necessarily, but nice balance and sufficiently well-priced to be useful to the restaurant trade.

Stick to this simple formula, and the sommeliers are happy – particularly if the wines remain good value. But once wineries start trying to get over-fancy – and charging disproportionately high prices for their bottles – the cracks start to appear.

‘There’s nice acidity in most of these wines,’ said The Lucky Onion’s Lionel Periner, ‘even if you are in the south of Italy with higher alcohol. Some are doing well with a good price. But some are overworked and losing the typicity of the grapes of this region.’

No surprise, given such sentiments, that some of the best performances here came from wines made of defiantly native grapes, while most of the (often pricey) Chardonnays ended up as Commendeds.

In view of all this, some free advice for Southern Italian winemakers. Next time you consider selling a £20 bottle of white wine into the UK, ask yourself what percentage of the population are prepared to pay £80 on a wine list for it…

FOOTNOTE: Includes wines from Campania, Puglia, Basilicata, Calabria, Sicily & Sardinia.

From the Tasting Teams

‘It was a pleasant surprise, with good value at the lower end of the price range.’ Gergely Barsi Szabó, Bread Street Kitchen

‘These wines are so linked with where they’re from, that idea with food matching of “grow together, go together”.’ Mark Thornhill, The Rockingham Arms