We are just about to get the wine show circuit underway for another year and how influenced are you to buy a bottle of wine by the awards the wine has won, which are generally shown on the label as medals in gold, silver or bronze?
As I have mentioned before it is unlikely the wine in that bottle is exactly the same as the one placed in front of the judges at any show, especially a red wine, if it has been sent from a large producer who has selected the wine from maybe one of dozens of barrels and that one barrel is deemed to have wine in it better than all the rest, when at the end of the day all the barrels are mixed together before bottling and that’s what you buy. One day I thought how interesting it would be to get two teams together, one a standard wine judging team comprising of winemakers, wine writers and people who have such knowledge of wines they have all kinds of degrees attained by passing exams.
The second team comprises of a group of everyday wine drinkers like you and me who just buy whatever is on the shelf at a price which is affordable and a variety which we enjoy, then see what the normal public would award the wines compared to the so-called experts, I can imagine a lot of interesting comparisons. Firstly we need to know how a wine judging event takes place, wine shows happen all over the world and in Australia all over the country, some senior shows sample wines submitted from wineries from every region others just concentrate on local wines.
Senior wine shows are usually held in capital cities such as Brisbane, Adelaide, Canberra, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney and often have the prefix “royal’ in front such as The Perth Royal Wine Show and are often held in conjunction with the annual country meets city show. However if you see a round blue sticker with the words Blue Gold on the label it is from The Sydney Wine Show where the wines submitted are actually tasted in groups with certain types of food, a single blue gold is important but a double blue gold is equivalent to a trophy and this is what the winemakers try to achieve.
We had the pleasure some years ago to be invited to the lunch in Sydney after the awards were made where we could taste all the single blue gold winners then sat down to lunch where the food presented was the same as the judging alongside the double blue gold medal-winning wines and what an eye opener this proved to be. At the other major shows the wines are divided into a number of sections, dry whites, dry reds, the age of the wines, fortified wines, sugar levels, etc.
So when submitting the wines the producers have to ensure they pick the right segment or the wine is rejected. The wines that are submitted are unlabelled with just a show sticker on the bottle and the segment the wine has been submitted into so the judge has no idea of its origin, producer or winemaker and the number of wines submitted can run into the thousands and at Perth, for example, there are over twenty trophy winning categories so there is a lot of sniffing, tasting and spitting done over the several days of competition.
Around the globe, there are two point scoring systems one marked out of twenty points, the other out of a hundred points but at the end of the day, it is about bronze, silver, gold medals and a trophy, or good, outstanding and classic.
In the 20 point system 3 points are awarded for colour, if the wine isn’t clear or vibrant it won’t go any further, 7 points for the smell, any nasties here and again the wine will be rejected and finally ten points for taste, medals that are awarded are Bronze 15.5/16.9 points, Silver 17/18.4 points and gold 18.5 to 20 points, in theory every wine presented could win a gold medal, although this would never happen, but there can only be one trophy winner in each category.
In the hundred points system 85-89 points the wine is deemed very good, 90-94 points outstanding and 95- 100 a classic wine, Robert Parker, for example, the top American Wine Critic, has awarded several wines 100 points over the years and the wine drinking public go crazy and usually buy every bottle produced regardless of price and in this system there can be more than one 100 point wine.
If you are a buyer who likes to purchase wines with awards on the labels and get the real medal winning wine then if you look for a smaller producer and the chances are they have taken an unlabelled bottle out of stock before putting a show label on or in my case once I received a phone call from a supplier to soak the original label off and put the show label on then take the wine down to the show grounds and leave it there, and yes it won a gold medal!
If you are a cricket fan and buy through “Cellarmasters” keep an eye out for a new range labeled Botham, it is the latest offering from a long line of celebrities such as golfers, actors and now cricketers who like to put their name on a wine label to sell their product. Retired cricketer Sir Ian “Beefy” Botham selected a range of Australian Wines, actually blended the wines himself and wanted to create a collection of wines accessible to all wine drinkers so has come up with a three-tier range.
The first tier is a Shiraz and Chardonnay selling for around $11, the second tier at around $18 comprises of a Margaret River Chardonnay, a Barossa Shiraz and a Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon. The third tier is a premium selection at around $100 and is a single vineyard range with a Barossa Shiraz and an Adelaide Hills Chardonnay and when asked which was his favourite replied that “it’s very difficult to pick one as there’s not a wine that I wouldn’t serve on my table”, howzat?
No doubt the Woolworths chain will eventually release the wines through their other stores BWS and Dan Murphy’s if there is sufficient interest. Looking for a good red wine at the right price then try the 2017 Crowded Hour McLaren Vale Shiraz at around $13 from Liquorland, the colour is good and deep, the bouquet spicy, meaty, chocolaty and is quite approachable and drinking very well now. Cheers, Philip Arlidge email@example.com