Reporting on our first-ever remotely judged wine competition is not going to be easy: the role of chair is less influential than usual. Any help I might have been able to give other judges in past competitions wasn’t possible this year, as all nine of us were judging in splendid isolation in our own homes. If there was a disagreement in one of the other two panels that the chair would usually step in to try and resolve, this couldn’t happen. You could observe that the usual separation between judges – so important if we are to arrive at our own conclusions and not be influenced by anyone else – was greater than usual
And because I only saw one-third of the wines exhibited, I can’t comment on the other two-thirds of the show, except for the top wines of each class which came back for the trophy taste-off. What I could say is that the system as designed and carried out by Ross Anderson, Ash Reynolds and their team of stewards worked remarkably well, and I am very happy with the results that I’ve seen.
A few specific remarks. Shiraz: each panel judged one third of the shiraz’s, and my panel’s third were the youngest wines, and while the standard was high on the whole, there were few real highlights and no gold medals awarded. All the golds came from the other two-thirds of the entries.
Pinot noir on the other hand yielded several and happily, they were wines of varying styles. Home Hill again dominated, its Kelly’s Reserve performing the same feat it managed two years ago, and has done more than once before, if memory serves. Four trophies: best pinot noir, best red wine, best wine of show, and best estate grown and produced.
Cabernet likewise yielded several fine wines, the trophy wine being an outstanding example from Windance in Margaret River.
The trophy semillon, a semi-mature wine from Coolangatta Estate, is another name that we also see doing well regularly at this show.
The trophy sparkling wine was a new name to me, and a quick check on the web revealed Parkside Estate is in Victoria’s cool, high-altitude Macedon Ranges, a proven source of fine sparkling wines.
I was personally impressed with several grüner veltliners in the ‘other white varieties’ class this year. Artis fielded its 2020 and 2021 and both did well, scoring silver medals. Artis is in the Adelaide Hills, a region where grüner is proving to be right at home.
Congratulations to all those who tasted success, and in spite of the novelty of this year, I look forward to judging in more normal circumstances next year.