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SWA 2011: REST OF EUROPE

Rest of Europe
Too few entries. The Lebanese producer Ksara performed well but where were the Greeks and Eastern Europeans?

Often a disappointing category, not least for the paucity of its entries, the rest of Europe again mostly appeared to have been hibernating when the entry forms went out for this year’s SWAs. It was good to see some wines from the Levant but it’s hard to believe that countries like Greece, Hungary, Romania and Slovenia couldn’t find anything to send in. The potential is there. The category also included non-aromatic wines from Germany and Austria, hence the Bronze-listed Chardonnay from Weingut Bunn.

Sommeliers often like wines that are individual, quirky and food-friendly, and some of the wines sent in ticked those boxes. ‘What I like about these whites is that they’re not obviously fruity,’ said Team Leader Peter McCombie MW. ‘They’re quite versatile food wines, not too exuberant and not too high in acid.’

‘[The Ksara Chardonnay] would be a great wine for mussels and savoury flavours
– scallops, something smoky,’ added Michael Moore of Michael Moore Restaurant.

It was a similar story for the reds. There were nowhere near the numbers or the
variety that the tasters were expecting. Which begs the question: if the merchants aren’t targeting unusual food-friendly, traditional wines at sommeliers, then who on earth
are they hoping to sell them to?

Still, a good performance by the Lebanese producer, Ksara, which seems to pick up
a medal or two in this competition every year. Maybe next year it’ll face stiffer competition.

“I would have liked to see more wines from Greece, Turkey, Lebanon, Slovenia, Hungary and Bulgaria in this flight. ” Kelvin McCabe, Roka


SILVER

Prieure Ksara Rouge 2008, Bekaa Valley, Lebanon
£6.17 @ Hallgarten Druitt
With intense aromas of cassis, smoky plums and cherries, and spicy notes, the palate shows a mix of savoury and sweet fruit with hints of toasty oak, and a medium length.

BRONZE

Weingut bunn Chardonnay 2009, Nierstein, Rheinhessen
£4.19 @ Weingut Bunn, Margarethenhof
Fresh and youthful, with a floral, citrus and pear nose plus a dash of white pepper. Medium in body and acidity, this shows hints of spice alongside white fruit and honeyed notes. ‘Good bargain,’ said Alexandre Céret.

Ksara Chardonnay 2009, Bekaa Valley, Lebanon
£10.73 @ Hallgarten Druitt
Well-integrated fruit and wood on the nose, leading to a palate of moderate richness. There’s honey and peach, evidence of barrel ageing, and a clean, balancing acidity. ‘Youthful but will improve,’ was Peter McCombie MW’s verdict.


Editorial feature from Imbibe Magazine – May/June 2011

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