Click image to enlargeKym Milne MW (SA)
Chairman of Judges
It was, as always, a pleasure to be Chairman of Judges at the 34th
Sydney International Wine Competition, in my tenth year as Chairman. The fact
that I have been Chairman of Judges for this Competition for a decade now is a
great compliment to the Conveners and the team of people that run this
Competition. 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. The Competition is always seeking to improve
with small tweaks here and there on how things are run, constantly seeking
improvement, but this never seems to affect what is a well-oiled machine, only
The judging team this year consisted of some returning judges, as well
as a good mix of new judges, who all showed great dedication to the judging as
well as well as providing some good humoured banter in the breaks and leisure
periods. I thank them for making the Competition a pleasure to Chair.
Competition is all about providing the consumer with wine options for a range
of different dining situations and I believe the Competition has once again
achieved this. A real diversity of wine styles produced from an ever increasing
range of grape varieties have been awarded either TOP 1OO, Blue-Gold or Highly
Commended status. It is pleasing to see not just diversity between the classes,
but also within the classes, providing the consumer with some really
interesting wine options with which to experiment.
In the Sparkling Wines class, a range
of styles from Australia, New Zealand and France were selected. Tasmania was
the standout region for the first time, with 4 wines out of the 12 in both the
TOP 1OO and Blue-Gold categories. This is a good reflection of the great
improvements and the high quality of sparkling wines now coming out of this
region. The French had 3 Champagnes in these categories (all 3 in the TOP 1OO)
with New Zealand having a lower than usual 2 wines Award winners.
Australian Riesling was the success
story of the Aromatics category this year, with an outstanding 15 out of the 18
wines in the TOP 1OO and Blue-Gold categories. Six Australian regions are
represented showing the diversity of locations and climates in Australia where
this excellent variety can produce high quality wines. Breaking the Riesling hold of the class were
an excellent Gewürztraminer, a Riesling from Nelson, another from Marlborough
in New Zealand respectively, plus a classic Alsace Riesling.
The new Semi-Sweet Aromatics class was trialled for the first time
this year with great success and some very interesting results. France
dominated the category with 4 wines from Alsace out of the 11 in the TOP 1OO
and Blue-Gold categories. New Zealand also showed its strength in producing
this style of wine, with 6 of the 12 wines selected in these top two levels.
The Sauvignon Blanc class for the first time in many years was not
a clean sweep for New Zealand in the TOP 1OO and Blue-Gold categories. Whilst
Marlborough was unsurprisingly and deservedly the strongest region with 22 of
the 26 wines in these two categories, there were 4 Australian Sauvignon Blancs
from the cooler climes of South Australia that made the list.
The Lighter Bodied Whites class has produced an interesting and
varied range of dry whites. Classic Australian Semillon, some with some aged
complexity, as well as some Semillon/Sauvignon Blanc blends provided the
backbone of the class. However, there is some excellent diversity in the awards
providing the consumer with an intriguing range of options from which to
select. Two Italian whites, a Portuguese white and a French Pinot Blanc from
Alsace give the northern hemisphere a strong representation in the awards. Add
to that a Grüner Veltliner and a Pinot Gris from New Zealand and an elegant Chardonnay
from Tasmania and there is a wealth of interesting lighter bodied whites from
which to choose.
The Medium Bodied Dry White class performed strongly this year,
with 26 wines from a wide range of Australian and New Zealand regions being
selected in the TOP 1OO and Blue-Gold categories. Looking at the range of
varieties in the list, it is evident that the range of high quality wines now
on offer from Australia and New Zealand is much changed from ten or fifteen
years ago. Eleven elegant Chardonnay’s, predominately from cooler regions, are
joined by 7 Pinot Gris, 2 Fianos, and then individual award winners from Grüner
Veltliner, Albarino, Viognier, and a Sauvignon/Semillon blend. A results list that a few years ago would
only have been possible in a European Competition.
The Fuller Bodied Dry White class is the domain of Chardonnay, with
14 of the 17 places in the TOP 1OO and Blue-Gold lists being awarded to the
variety. Australia dominated the Chardonnays with only one NZ Chardonnay
stopping a clean sweep for Australia of the variety in this class. This
reflects the strong resurgence of Australian Chardonnay in recent years, with
some very stylish wines in the awards. Also pleasing is the number of regions
represented, with 10 different Australian regions being represented amongst
these Chardonnays. The huge improvement
in the style and quality of Australian Chardonnay is a story that needs to be
told at every opportunity, and I would strongly recommend these wines for
consumers to try. Especially those
consumers that moved away from Chardonnay a few years ago. You will be amazed by the complexity,
elegance and diversity that now exists in Australian Chardonnay. Also in the
top awards of the class were a full bodied Pinot Gris and a classy Grüner
Veltliner from Marlborough, as well as a Viognier from the Barossa Valley.
The Pinot Noir class produced a strong showing with 33 wines selected
for the TOP 1OO and Blue-Gold categories. New Zealand dominated the results
with 27 wines predominately from the Pinot powerhouse regions of Central Otago
and Marlborough, as well as some from Martinborough and one from Waipara.
Tasmania had 4 Pinot Noirs in the TOP 1OO/Blue-Gold category, the strongest
showing yet for this region in this show, and a very positive reflection of the
excellent work that is being done with Pinot Noir in this small but exciting
part of Australia.
In the Light Bodied Dry Red class 28 wines were selected in the TOP
1OO and Blue-Gold categories. Shiraz/Syrah was the most awarded variety, with a
wide range of styles coming from a spread of warm and cooler climates from
Australia and Hawkes Bay in New Zealand.
A number of Grenache based blends from the Barossa and McLaren Vale
showed the strength of this variety in these regions. Add to these an
interesting collection of awarded wines made from Barbera, Nebbiolo, Merlot,
Malbec, Rondinella/Corvina and a range of Cabernet Sauvignon based blends and
there is plenty of interest for the experimental consumer.
The Medium Bodied Dry Red class was again a very successful
category, with 38 wines being selected for the TOP 1OO and Blue-Gold awards.
This category has long been the domain of Australian wines and this year was no
exception, taking 35 of the awards. The 2012 and 2010 vintages dominated
reflecting the excellent vintages these were for red wines across most
Australian regions. Shiraz again had a strong showing, with a fabulous diversity
of styles from both the classic regions and the emerging regions of Australia
as well as a very stylish example from Hawkes Bay in New Zealand. A strong range of Cabernet and Cabernet
blends from a range of Australian regions also make a strong representation in
the awards. Two Portuguese red wines from the 2012 vintage also make a welcome
addition to the TOP 1OO list.
The Fuller Bodied Dry Red class features 41 wines, the highest
number of awards in any one class in the Competition. A large number of high
quality Shiraz’s, with South Australia featuring strongly in the TOP 1OO and
Blue-Gold categories. Classic styles from the Barossa and McLaren Vale are
joined by wines from Langhorne Creek, Adelaide Hills, Clare Valley, Mt Benson
and Margaret River in this strong showing of rich yet stylish wines. Cabernet
Sauvignon also features strongly from famous South Australian regions, as well
as a strong showing from Margaret River. Italy is well represented, with 4 rich
wines from 4 separate regions in the South of Italy. Portugal is represented by a Touriga
Naçional. Australian versions of an Italian variety are also represented by 2
Montepulciano wines from the Adelaide Hills that are well worth consideration
for something different.
Hence, in summary, I feel the
consumer has a very interesting and diverse range of high quality wines to
select from, from this year’s results in the different categories, providing
many enjoyable options for a range of dining occasions.