image to enlargeKym Milne MW (SA)
Chairman of Judges
It was, as always, a pleasure to be
Chairman of Judges at the 38th Sydney International Wine Competition, in my
fourteenth year as Chairman.
Under the direction of Brett and Michaela
Ling and aided by a very professional and experience back of house team the
competition was once again run in a very professional and efficient manner.
Michael Manners and his army of chefs produced the usual quality of superb food
for not just the judging with food section, but for the whole week.
The smooth organization for the judging of
2000 wines by thirteen judges, with the added complication of the final 400
wines being re-judged with food, is a remarkable achievement by the very
professional team who run this unique competition. The judging team this year
consisted of some returning judges, as well as a good mix of new judges. Judges
came from Australia, New Zealand, UK, USA and Singapore, and included a
balanced mix of winemakers, Masters of Wine, Wine Journalists, a Sommelier and
a wine lecturer/researcher. All judges stuck to their task with great
enthusiasm and I thank them all for their professionalism and focus across the
whole judging week.
This wine competition is all about
providing the consumer with a range of wine options for a range of different
dining situations, and I believe the competition has once again achieved this.
It is pleasing to see not just diversity between the classes, but also within
the classes, providing the consumer with some really interesting options of
wines to experiment with.
In the Sparkling Wines class the French
dominated this year with 5 of the 8 wines in the medal categories coming from
Champagne, as well as the Sparkling Trophy. The other 3 wines came from the
cool climates of Tasmania, Marlborough, and the Adelaide Hills. Champagne
Lanson won the trophy not for the first time in this competition.
Riesling dominated the Aromatics category again
this year, with 8 out of the 10 wines in the medal categories including the
trophy winner. Regions were widespread
with Eden Valley topping the list with 3 wines, and then a spread of cooler
Australian and New Zealand regions. Two Gewurztraminers from New Zealand and
New England in NSW provided some alternative aromatic styles in the medal
The Semi-sweet white class had 3 wines in
the medals, two Rieslings from New Zealand backing up a solid performance last
year from New Zealand for this style, as well as a fresh and grapey Moscato
from the Riverina region of NSW.
The Sauvignon Blanc class was again
dominated by the Marlborough region of New Zealand, with a comprehensive 26
wines out of the 27 in the medal categories including the trophy winner. A fume style from the Adelaide Hills that
rated very highly was the only wine to stop a clean sweep by this classic
The Pinot Noir classes again produced a strong
showing with 26 wines selected for the medal categories. New Zealand dominated
the results with all 26 of these wines with 20 wines coming from Marlborough
and 6 wines from Central Otago including the trophy winner.
The Rose category had 10 wines in the medal
categories this year all from a range of regions in New Zealand and Australia.
Pinot Noir was the most awarded variety overall in this category, although the
trophy winner was a Merlot based wine from Hawkes Bay in New Zealand.
The Lighter Bodied Whites class was both
interesting and varied in terms of wine styles. The medal categories feature 16
wines made from Pinot Gris, Semillon, Albariño, Vermentino, Fiano and blends of
Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon. 11 different regions spread across Australia and
New Zealand are represented, from cool climates for some varieties to the
warmer inland regions of Australia for others. This “horses for courses”
approach to different varieties for different regions means excellent and
diverse wine styles are being made across a broad range of regions. A lot of
interesting wines to try here for the consumer.
The Medium Bodied Dry White provided 21
wines selected in to the medal categories. Moving into the medium bodied whites
meant Chardonnay the predominant variety with 14 of these wines, 10 from
Australia and 4 from New Zealand. Cooler climates predominated for these
Chardonnays, with 5 Adelaide Hills wines joined by wines from Margaret River,
Hawkes Bay, Marlborough and Tasmania. Along
with these Chardonnays were some excellent Pinot Gris’s, Semillon’s (including
the trophy winner from the Hunter Valley), a Viognier and a very complex
Sauvignon/Semillon blend from Margaret River. Plenty of great wines to try in
The Fuller Bodied Dry White Class was also
dominated by Chardonnay, with 8 of the 10 places in medals being joined by an
excellent Viognier from Marlborough and a classy Roussanne from McLaren Vale.
Australia and New Zealand shared the honours with 5 wines each. The key to
these fuller bodied wines was that they retained balance and freshness – what
is considered full bodied these days would probably have been considered more
medium bodied 10 or so years ago, with more restraint shown on ripeness and
keeping oak characters in balance rather than as a dominant component.
In the Light Bodied Dry Red category much
more diversely awarded than the last few years, with the 15 wines in the medal
categories made from 8 different regions and 8 varieties including Malbec,
Touriga Nacional, Nebbiolo, Tempranillo and Sangiovese alongside the more
traditional Shiraz/Syrah, Cabernet blends and Grenache blends. The trophy was
eventually awarded to an elegant Cabernet merlot blend from Margaret River over
an excellent Syrah from Hawkes Bay and a Shiraz Cabernet blend. Some very
interesting and elegant food wines.
The Medium Bodied Dry Red category was
again the most successful category, with 65 wines being selected for the awards
being the most of any class in the show. Australia was the most represented
country in this category with wines from a range of warmer to cooler regions
spread across the whole country. However New Zealand took out the trophy with
an elegant Syrah from Hawkes Bay, narrowly beating a classic Shiraz/Cabernet
blend from the Barossa Valley (which I have awarded the Chairman of Judges
trophy to this excellent example of a classic Australian style). There are also
an eclectic and interesting range of wines from other countries represented in
the medals this year including wines from Portugal, Spain, Mendoza in Argentina
and the Rhone Valley that are all worth checking out.
The Fuller Bodied Dry Red class had 44
wines in the medal categories. This class is rather unsurprisingly dominated by
Australia, with wines from 20 different regions represented in the medals
overall. The traditional regions of McLaren Vale (9 wines) and Barossa Valley
(7 wines) played to their strengths and were the most represented in this class
with some excellent wines, predominantly from stalwarts Shiraz, Cabernet and
Grenache blends, although also some interesting Montepulciano’s were
represented. This class also included
medal winners from New Zealand, Spain, Portugal and Italy in a range of
varieties and styles that will give the consumer plenty of interesting wines to
experiment with. A very good quality wine from the little known French variety
Fer made in Margaret River is a wine definitely worth seeking out from this
In summary, I am very pleased with the
results from the 2018 SIWC and feel the consumer has a diverse range of wine
styles to select from in this years award. I hope the results will provide
encouragement and confidence to interested consumers to try a wide variety of
options for different dining occasions.
Read Kym's Résumé