Regional Wine Shows
While capital city shows accept entries from all over the county, the (smaller) regional shows are limited to the wines from their region. For instance the Royal Hobart Wine Show is a national show, while the Tasmanian Wine Show is limited to the Island’s wines. The Royal Adelaide Wine Show is national, while regional wine shows are run in the Barossa Valley, Clare Valley, Adelaide Hills, McLaren Vale and the Limestone Coast, which incorporates Coonawarra. The National Wine Show of Australia only accepts entries that ‘qualify through Australian regional & capital city wine shows, and special purpose competitions’ and is essentially looking for the best of the best.
Special Purpose Shows and Competitions
While the agricultural and regional wine shows are run on a not-for-profit basis, there are a number of commercial wine shows. The Australian & New Zealand Boutique Wine Show, the Sydney International Wine Competition, the National Cool Climate Wine Show, Australian Small Winemakers Show, the Canberra International Riesling Challenge and the Great Australian Shiraz Challenge are just a few of the names out there. All are professionally run, but consumers may be baffled by the difference between a small winemaker and a boutique one.
How important are these competitions for winemakers and vineyards?
While the winning of these awards can create a splash in the media, it is certainly not mandatory for winegrowers to enter into wine shows — and is actually a very costly process in terms of dollars, time and wine for the winemaker. Often small prestige producers with limited stock would rather sell via their cellar door. Large companies and those new to the business can gain attention by boasting of their gold medals and trophies, but on the flip side, a cult maker may not want to tell their dedicated customers their latest chardonnay scored just 14 points!! It happened to one of our iconic winegrowers and he’s never entered a wine show since.
What is this 100 point system I keep hearing about in the wine world??
Robert Parker Junior published the subscription-based Wine Advocate for over 30 years, predicated on his ability to pick winners. The great 1982 Bordeaux reds were overlooked by the traditional English wine critics, but Parker trumpeted their virtues. He was right, and his reputation was set in stone.
Parker began using a 100 point system, with all his top wines scoring in the high-90’s. Parker has awarded 100 points to the Chamber’s Rosewood Rutherglen Rare Muscat. The US-based Wine Spectator followed Parker’s lead with their 1995 Top 100 Wine of the Year awarded to the 1990 Penfold’s Grange with a rating of 97 points – a wine listed at $100 USD per bottle!!
Australian Wine Shows have now adopted the 100 point system with wines scoring less than 85 points in the N.B.M. category, a silver medal awarded at 90 points and a gold above 95. James Halliday follows the 100 point system, scoring the Morris of Rutherglen Old Premium Rare Liqueur Muscat at 100 points.
Victories versus value… is it worth it??
In reality, medals and trophies are only a guide and rarely take into account price. A $15 bottle can rub shoulders in the same wine-show class as a $150 bottle. Is the $150 bottle ten times as good? No—it may be better but the multiplier effect really doesn’t work with wine. Wines in the $10-$20 range are made to drink now and not necessarily cellared for a decade. Winning a medal — or even better, a trophy — is a quality guide but in the end, trust your palate and buy the wines that bring pleasure to you, your family and your friends.
WHAT DIFFERENTIATES ORANGE FROM OTHER WINE REGIONS?
Wines from Orange and the Central ranges region are known to be light to medium bodied, elegant, aromatic and very fine. This is due to the uniquely harsh terroir and also the result of the heat summation.
Orange Terroir: being nestled on the side of a mountain, means two things for the wine region. The mountain affects the climate, with summers being harsh and warm, and winters commonly having snowfalls and being significantly colder than most of NSW. This combined with the simple fact that higher elevation packs flavour into wine, makes grapes from the Orange region incredibly sought after. Regions like the Hunter Valley often borrow Orange grapes to incorporate into their wines, adding some impacting flavour and complexity.
Shiraz and Chardonnay grapes are particularly suited to the terroir of Orange. Try Swinging Bridge Reserve Shiraz – a classic Orange example of a heavy, full flavoured Shiraz with incredible complexity and just the right amount of ageing. Or for those who love a white, try the incredible Cooks Lot Iconique Chardonnay. This simply must not be missed. As full-bodied as a white wine gets, with complex oak aromatics and buttery roundedness. It is an absolute winner!
Of course dont forget to check out Angullong’s Gold Medal winning Rosato, Ross Hills robust Grenache Shiraz or the Naked Grape Moscato. All are true examples of what Orange has to offer.