This year our judges were greatly impressed by the consistency, in terms of quality, of the wines tasted from New Zealand. The country’s most iconic grape variety, Sauvignon Blanc impressed our judges, the pithy grapefruit, hints of nettle and asparagus notes made for some medal-worthy wines. But it was actually the New Zealand Chardonnays that really stood out, with one Chardonnay taking home a gold medal for its creamy texture, and nicely integrated acidity and delicate peach notes. The Hawke’s Bay Syrahs were also praised by our judges, they showed great examples of what the grape variety has to offer, with rich bramble fruit coming through on the nose and well-integrated tannins. The winemaking skill really came through in these wines, with the expert use of integrated oak.
Brazil’s entries excited our experts; the Merlots that were tasted were fantastic examples of what the country has to offer. With some stand-out wines from warmer vintages, really setting the benchmark. The medals awarded for Brazil showed the country’s potential, its interesting terroir proved that this country is capable of making some remarkable wines with lots of personality.
The different winemaking skills demonstrated across the many flights of Australian wines delighted our judges. There were a few stand-out regions for the country. Coonawarra put our judges to the test with lots of stylistic differences creating an array of medals awarded across the panels. As one of Australia’s most famous regions, it was the examples of the classic styles Coonawarra is known for - the bright, fresh wines with green notes demonstrating a real elegance - that really stood out to our experts. Margaret River also impressed our judges, the Cabernet blends showed great freshness and vitality, with one wine awarded the coveted gold medal for its effortless quality. The region showed real generosity of flavour. Our judges ended the second day of tastings on a high with the fortified flights. The quality this year was exceptional, with a small borderline between wines that were awarded silver and those that peaked to gold-medal status. There was a degree of complexity our judges haven’t seen before, leaving behind a sophisticated aromatic layer. Our judges commented on the wines’ smokiness and extraordinary finesse. One stand-out Muscat left our judges astounded by the wine’s “unbelievable concentration, and unreal levels of fullness”. Even our Wine Judging Committee member, Alex Hunt MW, agreed that “these wines are as rare as the occasions you would have to drink them”.
Our Southern Hemisphere judging days will continue this week, ending on Friday 8 October with our trophy judging and low and no alcohol drinks categories. We will be sharing all the trends and highlights live from our tasting room, so make sure you are following us on social media, and following #IWSCjudging, as well as subscribing to our newsletter to receive a round-up of updates from the judging.
All results will be announced on 15October.