AAVWS 2006 Awards
Comments By Darby Higgs
The Australian Alternative Varieties Wine Show medals were announced on Saturday 12 November.
This is the annual showcase for those of us who are looking for something special in our wine drinking, and it gives a snapshot of what is around in the more adventurous side of the Australian Wine industry.
The task of the judges in this event is an unenviable one. In just a few days they need to assess wine across a vast range of varieties and attempt to apply some consistency.
A few interesting things happened at this years show. Perhaps the most striking is the fact that only one Pinot gris/grigio was given a gold medal, in 2005 there were half a dozen. Are the judges getting a little blase about the variety, has the quality of the wines declined or is this just a statistical aberration? The number of Pinot G's available continues to rise and the broader question becomes is this still an alternative varietal?
The Viognier classes did better in this show, with about 45% of the wines entered being considered worthy of a medal.
The strike rate in Arneis was even higher at 58%, but none were given a gold medal.
It is no surprise that the Sangiovese classes remain a strong point of this show with 79 entries. The results continue to improve as experience with clonal selection and Australian winemaking practices are coming to grips with what this variety is all about. Five of the wines this year were awarded gold, after none were given that honour in 2005.
Nebbiolo remains a difficult and erratic variety. The 2006 AAVWS sees two gold medal winning wines and a longish tail of wines that have problems.
Barbera perhaps has more potential in Australia, at least in enabling consistent success, however there was only a modest number of entries. Paolo Bottin in the McLaren Vale received a silver medal in this class to go with his gold for Sangiovese.
The younger (2005/2006) Tempranillo class shone out at this show. More than two thirds of the entries were judged worthy of a medal or commendation. All Australian vineyards with Tempranillo are very young and it seems that there is a strong upward trajectory in the fortunes of the variety here, at least we can say that there is a demonstrated ability to make an Australian 'joven-style' Tempranillo. The older Tempranillo class did not look so good; a solitary bronze was awarded to one of the 17 entries.
The results of the Petit Verdot judging confirm that this variety has a solid future in the warmer climate vineyards. Durif has long been associated with the Rutherglen region so it is appropriate that Rutherglen Estates scored a gold. There were plenty of medals going to other warm regions in this class. Just three bronzes from 11 entries in the Zinfandel Primitivo class shows me that there is some way to go in identifying what to do and how to do it with this darling of our Californian friends.
The other varieties and blends classes provide a nice little glimpse into the future. More than half of the 52 entries received a medal or commendation. It is worthwhile listing the varieties that were successful, Aglianico, Carnelian, Chambourcin, Corvina, Dolcetto, Lambrusco, Lagrein, St Macaire, Malbec, Marzemino, Montepulciano, Mourvedre, Negro Amaro, Rondinella, Tannat Tinto cao, and several blends of especially of Tempranillo, Sangiovese, Grenache.
The full results sheet will eventually be published on the AAVWS website but below is a brief rundown of the medals.
The classes and medals at AAVWS
Class 1A 2006 Pinot gris/grigio dry, crisp and crunchy styles
Class 1B 2005 and Older Pinot gris/grigio dry crisp
and crunchy styles
Class 1C 2006 Pinot gris/grigio Rich and full bodied
Class 1D 2005 and older Pinot gris/grigio Rich and
Class 2A 2006 Viognier
Class 2B 2005 and older Viognier
Class 3 Marsanne, Roussanne and blends
Class 4 Arneis
Class 5 Other light to medium bodied varieties or blends
Class 6 Other full bodied varieties and blends
Class 7 Dessert style, less than 3 baume
Class 8 Dessert style, greater than 3 baume
Class 9 Sparkling
Class 10A 2005/2006 Sangiovese
Class 10B 2004 and older Sangiovese
Class 11 Sangiovese blends
Class 12 Nebbiolo
Class 13 Barbera
Class 14A Tempranillo 2005/2006
Class 14B Tempranillo 2004 and older
Class 15A Petit Verdot 2005/2006
Class 15B Petit Verdot 2004 and older
Class 16 Durif
Class 17 Primitivo/Zinfandel
Class 18A Rose sugar less than 7g/l
Class 18B Rose sugar greater than 7g/l
Class 19 Other medium bodied varieties or blends
Class 20 Other full bodied varieties or blends
Class 23 White styles experimental
Class 24 White styles experimental
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