Wine Shows Explained: Regional vs National Shows
There are two main types of Wine Show, national ones that are part of the State Agricultural Shows and local or regional wine shows.
Wine Shows were originally intended for wine makers to benchmark their wines against other peoples, but they have become a lot bigger than that.
Our Singapore Airlines Swan Valley Wine Show is a regional show, one of the advantages of this is that the judges can look at a single region and get a real feel for the wine styles coming from that climate. For the winemaker we can analyse our wines against people who have faced the same growing conditions and climate that we have; making for friendly competitiveness especially during the Exhibitors Tasting.
Singapore Airlines in sponsoring our wine show have enabled us to invite overseas judges from different parts of the world. This has raised the understanding and profile of our wines internationally, but also we ask the judges for feedback on both the wines but also on the export potential for our wines and wine styles in their markets.
These judges are true international wine critics so it is really interesting to get their perspective and feedback on the Swan Valley wines.
The Perth Royal Show is a national wine show, so wineries from all over Australia with hugely varying climates and different growing conditions can enter their wines. This gives the winemaker a national perspective on where our wines sit and how they compare.
The new trophy at Perth Show is the Wines of Provenance. A winery has to enter their current vintage of a wine, one that is 10 years older and a vintage from in-between. Upper Reach we entered three Reserve Shiraz 2014, 2009 and 2004.
Uniquely to this class the wines are judged as a threesome, the judges are looking for a gold medal standard current release in the young wine, proof that the wine ages fantastically as shown by the 10- year-old wine and also by the vintage in the middle.
The Wines of Provenance class aims to highlight, reward and encourage producers to show how their wines develop over time, but also that the wine has a consistent style, feel and taste, showing reflecting the grape growing and winemaking.
At the 2016 Perth Royal Show, the Chairman of Judges introduced this trophy, which though it went to the Cabernet, his personal pick was the Shiraz.
It turned out to have been a very close contest, both with the same points and ultimately down to the Judges’ personal preference, between the Cabernet Sauvignon Jack Mann ($125) and ….drum roll…our Reserve Shiraz ($38)….we were absolutely thrilled!
So Upper Reach Reserve Shiraz won Gold for Wines of Provenance!
National Wine Shows and how they judge wine:
Internationally Australian Wine Shows are very highly regarded, exhibitors can be confident of the fairness of the judging. Over the years Australia has lead the world in creating a robust, fair and objective system for judging wine.
A wine show is an organisational feat, for example the 2016 Perth Wine Show had over 2000 entries, this means that more than 4000 glasses are poured each day! This is the job of the stewards, they must open all the bottles, and have the wine ready for the judges at the right time making sure that the wines don’t get mixed up- it is a blind tasting after all! I can assure you the judges don’t want to be kept waiting by disorganised stewards!
At all Australian Wine Shows the wines are tasted blind (meaning that the judges don’t see the bottles) they work as a panel of three, with a panel leader, two full judges and an associate judge. The Perth Show provided 3 mentor judges this year, to help and mentor all judges, but especially the panel leaders.
The wine judges typically have an ‘epitome’ of a style that they will judge the wines against.
Potentially every wine can win Gold, it is not like the Olympics with only first, second or third.
The wines are scored out of 20 points; 5 points are given for the colour, 5 points for the aroma, or smell and 10 points for the taste of the wine.
An associate judge is someone who is training to be a ‘professional’ wine judge, they too score each wine. The panel compare their individual scores and discuss any wines that get widely different scores from each judge, but the associate’s scores are not included in the final points awarded to the wine.
A panel will try specific classes of wines, such as Sparkling class, maybe an oaked chardonnay class and a rose class, all on the same day. Judging a regional show tends to take one day, but the national wine shows generally take a week.
Wine judges assess up to 200 wines a day, it is a real art to be as critical on the last wine, as on the first.
Sarah Jane Evans MW was flown over from London to judge at Perth this year, she found the Perth Show’ a ringing endorsement for screw caps, as over the week we only had one corked wine!’. Sarah Jane loved the Verdelhos, they were a real eye-opener for her, ‘I can see Verdelho being drunk in Wine Bars all over London on Friday evenings, after work’.
Often I’m asked if the public come to a Wine Show, I’m sorry to say that these are industry only events (we’re quiet rowdy enough on our own). There are splinter events for the public, Lamont’s Cottesloe is holding a Best of Swan Valley WineShow on Thursday 15 September, please contact Lamonts for tickets.
Perth Wine Show will have over 2500 wines, the exhibitors are the only people allowed to taste the wines, this is to help us with our benchmarking and analyses of wine styles. We start at about 9am, as that is when one’s palate is freshest…some people make it back to work but it is a fun day where the whole of the WA wine industry get together and the catch up can continue over lunch and into the evening!I’d like wines that won at the Wine Shows