Six Nations Wine Challenge winners

A New Zealand pinot noir and a South African sparkling wine were announced the first-ever joint ‘Wine of Show’ trophy winners at the Six Nations Wine Challenge in Sydney last week. They are the 2012 Dog Point Vineyard Pinot Noir (tasting), from Marlborough, and the 2011 Silverthorn The Green Man Blanc de Blancs from South Africa’s Robertson region.

The pinot is arguably the greatest pinot yet seen from Marlborough, a wine that takes power and density to a new level in a region better known for white wines and lighter pinot noirs.

The Silverthorn Cap Classique (the name for bottle fermented sparkling wine from the Cape winelands) is a beautifully balanced chardonnay style made from a single, small, 4-hectare, family-owned and managed vineyard. It spent 30 months on lees and just 7000 bottles were produced. Winemaker/owner John Loubser and his wife Karen came to Sydney to collect their awards, which included best sparkling and best white wine of show. From Dog Point, winemakers Matthew Sutherland and Murray Cooke accepted their trophies, which included best pinot noir and best red wine.

The trophies for best in class were shared among all six nations: Australia, New Zealand and South Africa won four each; Chile won two and the USA and Argentina scored one each.

Interestingly, Australia’s four trophy wines were all from warm-climate regions. Bleasdale 2012 Double Take Malbec (Langhorne Creek – tasting) beat the Argentinian contingent, who are always favourites in the malbec class; Peter Lehmann 2006 Margaret Semillon (Barossa Valley – tasting) topped the other white varieties class; Rutherglen Estates 2012 Viognier Roussanne Marsanne (Rutherglen – tasting) won best white blend; and Rosemount 2012 Nursery Project Graciano Mataro Grenache (McLaren Vale – tasting) won best non-Bordeaux style red blend.

Aggregate points are recorded for every wine in each of the 16 classes. New Zealand was top nation of show with the highest aggregate points, followed (in order) by Australia, South Africa, Chile, the USA and Argentina. The aggregate points winners of individual classes were: New Zealand (5): sparkling, aromatic non riesling, sauvignon blanc, pinot noir, dessert wines; South Africa (4): other white varieties, white blends, shiraz, (jointly) red Bordeaux blends; Australia (2): riesling, red blends non Bordeaux; USA (2): chardonnay, cabernet sauvignon; Chile (2): merlot and carmenere, (jointly) red Bordeaux blends; Argentina (2): malbec, other red varieties. 

This is a fascinating competition, as it is ‘by invitation’ only, the entries being selected by a single leading wine writer from each nation, collected in one place (Sydney) and judged blind by a panel made up of the same six wine writers. Each country is represented by – theoretically – the best 100 wines selected by an independent expert, within a flexible framework that allows each nation to include more of the varieties at which it excels – eg. Argentina invites a lot of malbecs, New Zealand a lot of sauvignon blancs – and fewer (or none) of those varieties at which it is poor.

Complete results at

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