Rest of the Old World: White, including Turkey, Croatia & Greece

2014: Gold 2 Silver 8 Bronze 4 Commended 10
2013: Gold 4 Silver 4 Bronze 7 Commended N/A
Must-list status: 10%
Overall SWA performance 2014: C+

Three or four years ago, we were lucky to get 20 entries in this section. But the past two years have seen an explosion of wines coming into the Sommelier Wine Awards from less well-known parts of the Old World. With almost 100 entries (across reds and whites), this is a truly powerful part of the competition now.

It’s an interesting one, too. As you might expect, there are a wide variety of styles, from ethereal Croatian or Slovenian aromatics to richer Turkish Chardonnays; from highly modern, stainless-steel efforts to efforts fermented in eggs or amphorae.

Not every winery got it right, but there was very little in the way of complaining from the tasters. Some wines were better than others, but there was relatively little that was bad. In fact, the high number of Silvers suggests plenty of quality here, with our teams holding back on the number of Gold-Listed wines for commercial reasons as much as anything. 

‘The trouble is, where are you going to fit these wines on the list?’ asked a pragmatic Ram Chhetri of Bread Street Kitchen. ‘They can be difficult to sell and if the price isn’t right, or the quality, you will never sell them.’

Other tasters, however, were more optimistic, seeing this part of the Sommelier Wine Awards as a dressing-up box of different styles that could be used to add a touch of pizzazz to the wine list.

‘These are wines you could sell by the glass, with contrasting styles offering something different,’ suggested Laurent Richet MS of Restaurant Sat Bains. ‘Perhaps to rotate with dishes, or seasonally, allowing customers to explore different styles, but in wines that are not too complicated or challenging to understand. There was some good value here, with a lot of wines that would be £35 to £40 on the list, and several wines that would match a quite broad selection of dishes.’

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.

From the Tasting Teams

‘Isn’t everything a bit of a hand-sell these days? Very few of our customers come in knowing exactly what they want any more. When they come, they want to be educated and communicated with.’ Claire Love, Loves Restaurant

‘These wines show a lot of character and personality, but you can see that there’s some definition of where they’re coming from. A nice elegance too. Some of them are very complex. There is a bit for everyone here and at every price level.’ Andrea Briccarello, Galvin Restaurants

‘This is a good area to find wines that you could sell at £20 to £30, good value, benefiting the restaurant and customer.’ Robert Mason, Cheese at Leadenhall

‘The prices were generally good, with some unusual styles, but with several wines that would work well with food – and this is how I would sell them, against specific dishes.’ Lionel Periner, The Lucky Onion

‘These wines wouldn’t appeal to everyone, but a lot of people do want to be adventurous and try something new, which is where these fit on the list.’ Courtney Stebbings, The River Café