Kym Milne MW
Chairman of Judges
“From within the Competition’s thirteen Style Categories, I am confident the consumer has a diverse range of high quality wines from which to select, offering many interesting options for a wide range of dining occasions.”
It was, as always, a pleasure to be Chairman of Judges at the 29th Sydney International Wine Competition. This was my sixth year as Chairman and my tenth as a judge. As in previous years, the organisation of the Competition was impeccable, with the backroom staff making the task of organising 2000 wines to be tasted in different classes, by up to 13 judges seem incredibly simple. This, combined with an excellent panel of local and international judges makes for a very enjoyable week of judging.
This Competition is all about providing the consumer with a range of wine options for diverse dining situations. As such, I encourage the judges to reward a wide range of wine styles within the different judging categories. Reviewing the results of this year’s Competition now, I can see the judges have indeed taken that instruction well, with a great diversity of quality wine of varied styles and variety featuring in both the TOP 1OO and Blue-Gold Award winners’ lists.
In the Sparkling Wines class two quite mature French Champagnes scored highly, although a fabulous vintage Blanc de Blanc from New Zealand almost nudged one of them out of the top spots. A well made Moscato from Australia provided a very different style in the TOP 1OO, reflecting the growing popularity of this style in the market.
Rieslings again dominated the Aromatics Category with a range of styles produced predominately from cooler climate regions as varied as Clare, Eden Valley, Tasmania, Western Australia and New Zealand. Also, within this varietal class, a diverse range of styles was represented, from the classic, dry Australian Riesling style, to a number of lower alcohol wines with varying degrees of sweetness. These semi-sweet styles can be particularly interesting when paired with many Asian influenced dishes.
The Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir classes have in past Competitions been the domain of the New Zealanders, and this year was no exception. New Zealand’s Marlborough region produced all of the Sauvignon Blancs in the TOP 1OO, and the majority of the Blue-Gold winners. The Pinot Noir Category was also dominated by New Zealand with a clean sweep of both all the TOP 1OO and Blue-Gold awards. These Pinots offered a range of styles from the elegant, perfumed and more restrained, to rich, juicy very ripe and fuller flavoured styles.
The Lighter Bodied Dry Whites Category showed a great diversity of varietals for consumers to choose from in both TOP 1OO and Blue-Gold award lists. Aged Hunter Semillons contrasted nicely with Western Australia’s bright, crisp and delicate Semillon/Sauvignon Blancs. A range of Verdelhos, Pinot Gris as well as an Arneis and a Vermentino completed the exciting range of food friendly wines in this Lighter Whites category.
As would be expected Chardonnay, is much more widely represented as we move to the Medium Bodied Dry White class, with some very elegant wines offered. Three Viogniers from three different regions are also represented in the TOP 1OO.
The Fuller Bodied Dry White Class is even more dominated with Chardonnay, and reflects some of the high quality, stylish wines that are now being produced in Australia and New Zealand. The key to these wines is, whilst being full flavoured, they still retain balance with regard to oak and body whilst, importantly, retaining some elegance which keeps them food friendly. It is quite noticeable that every year there are far fewer of the overblown, over-wooded Chardonnays being entered.
In the Lighter Bodied Dry Red category Shiraz and Shiraz/Viognier from cooler climates were the most awarded styles taking the majority of places in the TOP 1OO. A number of these were from the Hawkes Bay region of New Zealand, which is fast making a name for itself as a producer of top quality, elegant Shiraz styles. A handful of Cabernet Sauvignons, also from the cooler climates of the Adelaide Hills and Western Australia also featured, as well as a Tempranillo from New Zealand.
The Medium Bodied Dry Red category was the most successful category of the entire Competition, with the highest number of wines making both the TOP 1OO and the Blue- Gold lists. Shiraz was again the leading variety, with a diverse range of styles from the classic regions of South Australia, as well as Western Australia and Victoria. One Nebbiolo showed very strongly in the TOP 1OO and is worth seeking out for those looking for a totally different flavour profile.
The Fuller Bodied Dry Red class was dominated by Australia.. Traditional South Australian regions featured very strongly, with some rich, full bodied, extremely high quality wines from both Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon. An Italian Montepulciano is an interesting addition to the Fuller Bodied TOP 1OO Reds this year, with an Italian Negroamaro, as well, in the Blue-Gold list. A South Australian Montepulciano and a NSW Durif also provide interesting alternatives.
From within the Competition’s thirteen Style Categories, I am confident the consumer has a diverse range of high quality wines from which to select, offering many interesting options for a wide range of dining occasions.