Thursday, February 24, 2011

Royal Sydney Wine Show - 2011

Anyone who follows wine shows would realise that they come up with some strange results. I can partially understand this. Tasting in groups, in a very short period of time, and the inevitable palate fatigue that comes with tasting multiple wines, will inevitably lead to some slightly odd results. However, even accepting all that, the results I see each year at the Royal Sydney show are bizarre and generally at all odds with how the same wines are critically reviewed in other contexts. This year’s Royal Sydney Wine Show was true to form in this regard. Some less than impressive wines won Gold Medals and even trophies, while plenty of superb wine didn’t even merit a Bronze.

In any case I shouldn’t complain too much as the show affords me with an opportunity to taste an amazing range of quality Australian wine. Generally speaking I was most impressed with the Semillons and the Cabernets this year, with numerous wines showing beautifully.


This was probably the one varietal where the Show results came close to approximating the quality of the actual wines. With a couple of different classes on show I was able to taste Semillons from 1999 through to 2010. The best examples have years ahead of them. Several vintages of Tyrrell’s Vat 1, Thomas Braemore, Meerea Park Alexander Munro, and Mount Pleasant Lovedale all impressed. I haven’t previously had many Lovedales, but tasting through a number of different vintages highlighted to me the outstanding pedigree of this vineyard and wine. It certainly tastes like it’s from somewhere, and the texture with this wine is lovely. It might be an expensive Hunter Semillon, but all things considered I think it warrants it.


The quality of Cabernet coming out of the Margaret River shone through here. Cape Mentelle, Voyager, Juniper Estate, and Vasse Felix all had several vintages of their premium Cabernet on show, and more or less across the board they presented beautifully. I’ve previously mentioned how much I was looking forward to trying the 08 and 09 Juniper Estate (, and this was my first taste of both, and there was certainly no let down. Both looked great. Quality, complex Cabernets. From 2007-2009 it’s pretty hard to go wrong with any of the above wineries. Of course many of these wonderful wines didn’t even warrant a bronze apparently.

Heading a bit further South down to Great Southern I tasted my wine of the day in the 2008 Houghton Jack Mann Cabernet. This wine actually got a deserved gold medal. It tasted like a Jack Mann and a very, very good Jack Mann at that. I found it hard to wipe the smile off my face as I tasted this wine. Power with restraint, a balance between the fruit and savoury flavours, tannic impact and great length. No spitting here. A wine to save your pennies for.

The other Cabernet I was very impressed by was the 08 Lindeman’s St George from the Coonawarra. A beautifully structured single vineyard wine with rippling tannin, I need a few of these for the cellar as well. It’s great to see the revival of this wine.

All up a great day of tasting. The trick is to ignore medals and instead focus on maker and vintage.


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