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Winner Details

Rest of the Old World: Red, including Turkey, Greece & Lebanon

2014: Gold 4 Silver 4 Bronze 9 Commended 16
2013: Gold 4 Silver 6 Bronze 15 Commended N/A
Must-list status: 15%
Overall SWA performance 2014: C+

Given that there were twice as many Other Old World Golds given to reds as whites, you’d think that this was a stronger category, n’est-ce pas? Well, without wishing to get all mysterious and Yoda-like on your ass, both stronger and weaker it was.

When the wines were good, they were very good – but there were more bad or average wines here than in the whites, as the huge number of Commended awards shows. The whites, if you like, had consistency and strength in depth; the reds mixed the sublime and the ridiculous, with more wines that could make our tasters cry – with both joy and pain!

‘The good ones had fruit, structure and nice acidity,’ said Katherine Balanovsky of Michael Caines at Abode Manchester. The bad ones veered from over-baked fruit (fairly common) to coarse tannins – perhaps the most common cause for rejection of all.

In truth, our tasters found themselves somewhat torn here. They often liked the idea of weird, traditional styles – but struggled with them in practice. And some of the slicker, more modern examples were dismissed with ‘could have come from anywhere’.

What they wanted was wines that were clean and accessible (ie modern and well-made) but still different from what’s available from elsewhere in Europe. Wines, if you like, that had a cute accent, but still spoke a language that the punters would understand.

In much of this, oak use was key. Too much of it wrecked the balance and smothered the interesting indigenous varieties. On this evidence, Bulgaria – rumoured to be re-emerging after 15 years in the doldrums – is managing it better than anyone, though they might want to look at their marketing. Château Lafite, for instance, sounds sexy. Bioagrofoods 2000 sounds like a plant food…

FOOTNOTE: Where wines are not yet available in the UK, a realistic estimate of the DPD price is given and the winner's details in appear in the UK Supplier Directory.


Between them, Turkey and Bulgaria dominated the top red medals. Three Gold-Listed wines and two Silvers for the latter was the country’s best SWA performance ever.

From the Tasting Teams

‘There were interesting flavour characteristics in abundance here, with some wines showing nice acidity and good body, some a lot of development, but all had a certain individual profile, which made this an interesting flight.’
Emily O’Hare, The River Café 

‘This was a very mixed bag, both of styles and quality.’ Clio Giudici, Ellenborough Park

‘This flight was about finding wines that stood out. The better ones had complexity, balance, harmonious flavours – wines that would have a strong or individual identity. The wines that failed to stand out would be hard to justify against the classics on the list.’
Julien Dumas, Hoxton Bar and Kitchen