Home Winners > Winners 2014 > Red, including Douro Valley

Winner Details

Portugal: Red, including Douro Valley

2014: Gold 2 Silver 12 Bronze 8 Commended 6
2013: Gold 2 Silver 6 Bronze 10 Commended N/A
Must-list status: 20%
Overall SWA performance 2014: C+

When we get a ‘Silver bubble’ in the Sommelier Wine Awards, it usually means one of two things: either ‘lots of good wines that are too young to be put on our Gold List because they’re not ready to drink’ or ‘lots of good wines that our tasters would love to reward further, but can’t justify in a commercial context because they’re either a bit left-field or a bit expensive’.

Well, this category was a bit of both.

The most regular ‘young offenders’ were the Douro reds, which showed enormous amounts of concentration, complexity and intensity, but (even for wines with three or four years of age on them) were often still a bit unruly.

Our tasters wanted wines that they could sit down and have a conversation with, not bottles that would leap around playing air guitar, drinking beer from a can and collapsing self-indulgently in a tearful mess when things didn’t go quite their own way.

‘There was bru-ta-li-ty with an umlaut,’ said a purple-toothed Gergely Barsi Szabó of Bread Street Kitchen. ‘Lots of tannin and big fruit – you need a steak on the side. But a lot of them were well made.’

The large number of Silvers outside the Douro was more a recognition that these wines, however good they are, are a tough sell. Particularly once you head over £10, which a lot of these did rather too quickly for our tasters’ liking.

‘We had hoped for more fresh, floral reds showing Atlantic influence, but there were lots of difficult tannins – and not the drinking value we expected either,’ grumbled team leader Sarah Jane Evans MW.

It’s true that these probably shouldn’t be recommended for anyone who has a bit of a problem with tannin. But if you’re looking to add interest to your own wine list, they’re a great place to start.

From the Tasting Teams

‘A decanter and some big glasses are recommended for the Douro reds, but they don’t need ageing. People expect these wines to be big – you don’t need to over-soften them.’ Gergely Barsi Szabó, Bread Street Kitchen

‘They are very foodie wines. But through the price points we found ones that we could enjoy, and some of the quality was outstanding, with great value for money.’ Laura Rhys MS, team leader

‘We have a lot of Portuguese reds on our list at the mid price or high end. We hand-pick them, and it’s a hand-sell, but you can do it.’
Adam Pawlowski, Northcote Manor