AAVWS 2005

A quick summary of the 2005 Australian Alternative Wine Show held at Mildura in November 2005

Comments by Darby Higgs

The AAVWS is now established as the premier event for those who are at the cutting edge of broadening the Australian wine palate. The show gives makers using alternative varieties a chance to find out where they stand among their peers, rather than being seen as a curiosity at a mainstream wine show.

Some of the varieties in the show are now quite established, such as Petit Verdot, Pinot gris/grigio, Sangiovese, Tempranillo and Viognier. These varieties could almost be called Major Alternatives. Under the rules in 2004 Grenache was included but not in 2005.

As usual there were some new and experimental wines on show, including for example, Coriole’s first miniscule vintage of Fiano.

The show features a prize for wines under alternative closure (ie not cork) This is now an obsolete category as only 17% of the whites shown and 53% of the reds were bottled under cork. A total of 415 wines were judged.

The Pinot gris/grigio class was the largest and arguably the best. Seventy PG wines were shown and six were awarded gold medals:

  • Casella Yellowtail Reserve Pinot Grigio 2004
  • Yarra Burn Pinot Gris 2004
  • Brown Brothers Pinot Grigio 2005
  • Redbank Sunday Morning Pinot Gris 2005
  • T’Gallant Pinot Grigio 2005 (highest PG in show)
  • T’Gallant Imogen Pinot Gris 2004.

Yalumba dominated the Viognier classes (46 wines judged) winning both of the gold medals awarded for their Yalumba Y Series Viognier 2005 and the Yalumba Eden Valley Viognier 2004. This latter wine also received the award for best wine in the show.

The only other white wine to win a gold medal was the Murray Cod Called Bruce Vermentino 2005, made by the Murray Darling Collection. This winery also produced a Malvasia d’Istriana 2005 which while ineligible for a medal was deemed to be of silver medal standard.

There were ten Arneis wines judged in a subclass of their own: silver medals were awarded to Berrima Estate Tertini Arneis 2005 and to Dromana Estate ‘I” Arneis 2004.

Trentham Estate received a gold medal for its dessert wine The Family Moscato 2005.

The largest red wine class was Sangiovese with 46 wines judged. No golds were awarded. Bottin Wines from McLaren Vale received the highest points and a silver medal for its Sangiovese 2004.

There were 14 Nebbiolos judged. This variety has its enthusiasts and devotees but many have given up on it. The judges seem to like the variety and awarded seven of the Nebbiolos points to medal winning standard. Tenafeate Creek Wines (Adelaide Zone) received the only gold awarded for their 2003 Nebbiolo.

Twelve Barberas were judged with the only gold medal being awarded to Dunns Creek Estate Barbera 2004.

TGV is not a speedy French train anymore it is a classy new wine blend made by Yalumba. It is 95% Tempranillo with the balance being Grenache and Viognier. Yalumba received a gold medal, and best red wine of the show for their 2004 wine under this name.

Fifteen of the 32 Petit Verdots entered received points to medal winning standard. Hanging Rock Winery Petit Verdot Rocks 2004 was the top scoring PV.

Westend 3 Bridges Reserve Durif was the only gold from the 18 Durifs at the show.

The Zinfandel class was considered to be disappointing class with only two of the twelve entries being award medals, the best of which was the Gilbert Siding Jardim do Bomfim Zinfandel 2004 getting a silver medal.

The other red varieties classes contained a wide range of varieties, with the medium bodied varieties or blends particularly pleasing the judges. Of the 24 entries received thirteen were deemed of bronze medal standard and the Cobaw Ridge Lagrein 2004 was given points equal to a silver. Of the full bodied varieties and blends Ferngrove Malbec 2003 achieved gold medal points.

My overall impression, gained from a too brief tasting session at the end of the show is that the cause of varietal diversification is roaring ahead. Successful and innovative wines, according to both the judge’s points and my humble palate, are being made by large and small wineries, some familiar some obscure. We can look forward to plenty of Vinodiversity in the future.

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