Monday, December 19, 2011

Australian Wine Shows: James Halliday to defend himself again

After the well publicized argument between Robert Parker and James Halliday about the Australian wine show system around 2003/2004, I think, we now have one between Rick Kinzbrunner, winemaker at Giaconda, and James Halliday.

Kinzbrunner in the October Decanter magazine: Wine shows drive wines to a level of boredom, consumers should be in charge instead of winemakers, and criticizing Australia's insane preference for screwcaps.

James Halliday, in his Australian Wine companion article from today (, points to the post show tastings as evidence of the system working. I have attended some, and I must say I have been bamboozled by the points wines scored, and tend to agree that wines with personality have a tough time.

On the other hand, Halliday supplies evidence that the judges come from different backgrounds and are not necessarily dominated by winemakers. Having said this, the Chairman usually has a big influence how the judging is done - and I think I am right in saying he is mostly associated with winemaking.

The screwcaps topic has been dealt with a lot. My view: Definitely an advantage for white wines. I have now drunk a number of serious red wines under screwcap which are 7 to 10 years old, and I don't like them nearly as much as those under cork. They don't mellow well. The issue is simple. The screwcap threat is great for making sure the cork producers get their act together. But also: Australian producers need to ensure that they are not the last cab of the rank, when it comes to cork quality. This is where Rick Kinzbrunner has spent much energy to form valuable relationships.

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