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On Tasting
The Barossa Wine Show Public Tasting 19th September
Part 3 of the Barossa Tastings

Monday, 4th January, 2010  - David Farmer

I knew a lot more than the judges about the rows and rows of wines set out before me. I knew what the wines were as I had a programme and I also knew the judges scores. The other thing to remember about this show is that should there ever be a Wine Tasting Olympics the Barossa would be its own country such is the enormous depth of talent that lives there.

When these judges front the day to day varieties which they make and taste regularly, they mow the wines down with great ease and you would want to be very confident indeed at a later tasting to propose that this or that wine was overlooked. Getting in the way of these judges when they are in full flight can cause serious injury. And the Associates would look good as senior judges at any tasting around Australia.

So I tasted the riesling, chardonnay, shiraz and cabernet classes of various vintages with interest and many an expensive wine with a low score I tasted and nodded agreement. It would be very hard to complain with the judging though scores do bounce around from show to show. A wine we noted at the Small Winemakers in Part1, the Schutz Barossa Red Nectar Shiraz 2007 was given a bronze at 15.7 while it received 4.5 Stars in Winestate which equates to a point score of 18-18.4. It was in an incredibly strong class so I thought the bronze was about right.

I mentioned the Sons of Eden wines at the Artisans Tasting Part 2 and they did really well with the Remus getting gold and the Romulus silver. Of others that I thought would point highly, some did and others did not.

I wandered over to have a look at Class 9; Dry Red Varietal Shiraz Vintage 2008 because of the judge's comments on the gold's which went: "Wine 15 (Charles Cimicky Reserve Shiraz) shows a lot of quality oak, but has the fruit to carry it. Wine 27 (Kellermeister Black Sash Shiraz) is a totally different style, relying more on sharply focused fruit." Indeed the Kellermeister is a voluptuous style which I'm very keen about. We will see many more wines made this way and I get more and more the feeling that to really express the character of the vineyard site, oak has almost no role. Can we make interesting, tasty reds with no oak-I think we can and I also think we have consumers who now want young, fruit driven reds.

So to class 15 where my interest is currently focused, Dry Red, Grenache, Shiraz, Mourvedre Blends, Vintage 2008 and Older. I was very critical of the judging of this class last year and said so in The Missing Trophy at the Barossa Wine Show.

There were 31 entries with 2 gold, 3 silver and 15 bronze awards, so 65% got a medal. Now we are getting somewhere. There were six or seven glorious wines so this judging gives real encouragement to a classic Barossa style.

Class 14 was for Grenache, again a class to be encouraged. Only 16 entries with seven medals. We need more work with this variety and it still fools our best talent with its vagaries. I have seen a few glorious wines, enough to know we must persevere and as I write this note reflect on a recent Samuels Gorge from McLaren Vale which was breathtaking.

Class 16 is everything that does not fit elsewhere and really is beyond effective judging, attracting 81 entries. I spent little time with shiraz, cabernet, merlot and all the variations of how these can be blended often with other varieties as well. Buried under these were some gems such as the Tscharke The Master Montepulciano and the Tscharke The Son though I do not know the variety of the later. Also some promising wines from tempranillo, sangiovese, a Charles Cimicky Durif and others with grenache and mataro. Encouraging wines but what the hell do you make of all these varieties, all clashing with each other? Incidentally keep your eye on Damien Tscharke and Jason Schwarz.

Recently the Advertiser (?) mentioned that the best pizza joint in SA was in Angaston so after the tasting a few of us wandered in and the red ordered was the Yalumba The Scribbler Cabernet Shiraz 2008 which scored a gold in Class 16. I could not see its charms and longed for brightness and freshness of Wine 27 Class 9.

Oh I almost forgot I did look at the rose styles and found a world class load of rubbish. They should hide these wines behind a screen so tasters are not embarrassed reviewing them. The only wine I knew that was made with loving care by a winemaker who was trying to redefine this style, the Teusner Salsa 2008, came stone motherless last but at least it was a nice drink.

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