Sunday, February 15, 2009

The Sydney Wine Show - what a shocker this was!

About 2300 wines were submitted and while you have no chance to sample anywhere near all of them, there was hardly any I would consider drinking. Where is the finesse, the beauty, the silkiness? It was very disappointing.

There are of course a number of excuses: the last few vintages were very challenging and many highly regarded wineries were not represented. However, does everything have to be either green and tough or overextracted and overripe? Where is the wine making skill Australians are supposed to have? It may not be just fashionable that imports are booming.

Another observation: the Semillon and Riesling classes were virtually untouched and untried by the tasting public. The focus was clearly on Shiraz, and to some extent Pinot Noir, although their representation was poor.

My comments: Semillon: quite a few gold medals were given, in particular to the myriad of Tyrell's wines. I found them somewhat disappointing and weaker than in the 90s - a bit dull, really.

Chardonnay: a good mix of quality. I really enjoyed the 2007 Cape Mentelle Chardonnay. It is big, but has good structure, length and acidity. It won a trophy. I found the 2006 Clairault very smooth, but a bit perfumed and oaky. The 2006 Xanadu was pleasant, so was the 2008 Oakridge, on the lighter side. The 2007 Shadowfax is not as rounded as the previous year. The 2007 Eileen Hardy is back to a bigger and oakier style, but no butterscotch, and would be quite appealing with a heavier fish dish.

Pinot Noir: Paringa won a trophy with their 2007 Estate wine. It had a very intense nose, but lacked a bit in the follow through. Nothing much else to report on. Victoria and most of Tasmania was missing. The 2007 Pipers Brook Estate Pinot showed quite poor fruit..

Cabernet: Most of Coonawarra and Margaret River was missing. The 2007 Penfolds 707 was not varietal. An extracted dry red. Disappointing also the 2006 Lindemans Pyrus and the 2005 Signature from Yalumba. Better the 2005 Cape Mentelle Cabernet, but no match for its splendid 2004. From that good year the Voyager's Cabernet/Merlot won this group for me. It got a bronze.

Shiraz: there were a few big names here, but many were disappointing. Paringa won trophies for their 2006 Estate wine and the 2007 Reserve. Both wines were very peppery, the Reserve a bit fuller. They are expensive for what they offer, and I would prefer a Dalwhinnie, Mount Langhi or Craiglee as a cool climate Shiraz any time. The 2007 Kalleske Greenock Shiraz was very ripe, but had great length and some silkiness on the finish - one of the better ones. On the disappointing side: 2007 Cape Mentelle Shiraz, 2006 Grant Burge Meshach (jammy, poor structure), 2006 Yalumba Octavius, 2006 Best's Bin O, 2006 Penfolds RWT, 2005 Barossa Valley E&E, 2005 Oliver's Taranga HJ Reserve. A class above these were the 2005 Wolf Blass Platinum Label, which has such a range of fruit available, and the 2007 Starvedog Lane Shiraz/Viognier (fruit not as good). The 2007 Bullant Shiraz from Lake Breeze won a Shiraz class and is a good barbeque wine.

Overall, a most disappointing afternoon, but you will never read the truth, as most wine writers happen to judge at shows.


Andrew Graham said...

I actually had quite the opposite reaction to you - I thought it was an excellent show. BUt then again, I skipped most of the commercial classes and went straight to the aged and single vineyard stuff that was basically untouched. Many delights in there.

Alontin said...

This still leaves many mediocre wines, where I wonder how owners can think they can impress judges or the public.

Baz said...

Isn't it the case that 06, 07, 08 Australian vintages (and now 09) are fairly average compared to 02, 04 and 05? Too much production, too much hype and a dwindling off shore market do not bode well...