Wednesday, September 28, 2011

And the winners are ... best wines from the 2011 Australia / New Zealand Organic Wine Show

This is my pick of the best wines from the 2011 Australia/New Zealand Organic Wine Show, which was judged by myself and four others in Sydney on Monday September 26.


2009 Lowe Zinfandel, Mudgee - BEST RED, WINE OF SHOW
An excellent expression of zinfandel, and a testament to the quality of the Lowe vineyard in Mudgee: dark, dense and brooding, it has lots of woody-spicy fruit framed in a complex, dusty tannin structure.

2011 Battle Of Bosworth Puritan Shiraz, McLaren Vale - BEST PRESERVATIVE FREE WINE
This preservative-free red fair bursts out of the glass: heaps of joyful black fruit, but layers, too, of more complex flavour - garrigue (wild thyme, dried oregano) and game (rare seared venison, I think).

2009 Tamburlaine Noble Chardonnay, Orange - BEST WHITE           
A glorious sticky for sipping with rich parfait and brioche toast: super-rich and peachy to start - almost like apricot syrup - it finishes with, and is balanced by, fresh citrusy acidity.


2011 Thistle Hill Riesling, Mudgee - SILVER MEDAL
A good follow-on from the trophy-winning 2009, this lean and savoury riesling has lovely crystalline green acid line and structure. Should develop well in the cellar.

2008 Robinvale Wines Kerner, Robinvale - SILVER MEDAL
A perennial favourite at this and other shows: rich fruit flavours, like mandarin juice and butterscotch, balanced by fresh acidity. Very drinkable wine.

2009 Ascella Semillon, Hunter Valley - SILVER MEDAL
Gently easing into what looks like being a happy life as a classic Hunter sem: some tangy lemony richness, developing classic waxy complexity and length.           

2010 The Millton Vineyard Riverpoint Viognier, Gisborne, NZ - SILVER MEDAL
Bloody ripper of a viognier, this: rich and creamy, honeyed and fine, with lovely weight and complexity.

2011 Salena Estate Ink Series Vermentino, Riverland - SILVER MEDAL
Some of the judges thought this was one of the best examples of Australian vermentino they’d ever seen: crisp green apple and feijoa fruit; bright, chalky texture.

2010 Richmond Plains Pinot Noir, Nelson, NZ - SILVER MEDAL           
Terrific, lighter style of pinot that screams its origins: juicy, sappy, herbal, powdery, some beetroot juice, rhubarb, forest floor and tamarillo. Phew ...

2008 Cape Jaffa Wines Cabernet Sauvignon, Mount Benson - SILVER MEDAL
Tastes more like a big Spanish red (think Toro, Ribera del Duero) than a typical Limestone Coast cab, but loadsa fun: mocha oak, blackcurranty fruit, ample sooty tannin.

2004 Temple Bruer Reserve Cabernet Petit Verdot, Langhorne Creek - SILVER MEDAL
This rang many judges’ bells because it has more than a touch of mature Bordeaux about it: cedary oak, dark, licoricey blackcurrant fruit, savoury tannins.


I thought the following two wines were very good indeed, but my fellow judges weren’t quite so enamoured. Both wines are quite tight, tannic and savoury. I perceived these qualities as positive expressions of terroir and vineyard; other judges perceived them as ‘lacking varietal character and fruit’. As I was totally out on my own on this one, I had little chance of talking all of my fellow jurors round - I’m no Henry Fonda - and, after all, the whole point of having multi-person panels in wine shows, surely, is to encourage consensus, not bullies. But I thought I’d tell you about them all the same. Just in case, like me, you like tight, tannic, savoury wines.

2010 Switch Organic Wine Pinot Noir, Adelaide Hills           
From a new label on the organic wine scene, Switch’s pinot is all about powdery tannin, dried herb aromatics, brooding black fruit and cellaring potential - classic Hills pinot characters, really, I would argue.
2009 Lowe Wines Reserve Shiraz, Mudgee
I thought this wine was stunning; it certainly had a very commanding presence. Tight and sinewy, with iodine and black soil and graphite rippling though it, it’s a wine I’d love to have in my cellar.

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