2014 New England Wine Show

It was such a refreshing change, to see three wines of unusual, alternative grape varieties vying for the trophy as top wine of a show.

The candidates were a nebbiolo, a malbec and a gewurztraminer at the 2014 New England Wine Show, which I chaired recently in Glen Innes. All were top gold medal winners and all outstanding, of course. Normally, you’d expect such a line-up to include a shiraz and a chardonnay, at the very least. Yes, there were gold medal shirazes in the show, but they were beaten by the other reds.

In the end, the malbec triumphed. When the identities were revealed, it turned out to be the 2012 Messing Around Malbec (tasting) from Ballandean Estate ($35), grown and made in the Granite Belt of south-eastern Queensland. The catchment for the New England Wine Show includes not only New England and outlying non-GI areas, but the Granite Belt and the coastal areas of northern NSW, such as the Hastings Valley.

New England itself did well, with the runners up being Toppers Mountain (tastings) Wild Ferment Nebbiolo 2012 ($38) and Symphony Hill Gewurztraminer 2014 ($35). Both wines were made by Mike Hayes at Symphony Hill winery in the Granite Belt, from grapes grown by Mark Kirkby at Toppers Mountain, Tingha, near Inverell, which is part of the New England region.

Toppers is the stand-out vineyard of the region, as it was three years ago when I last visited the region to judge the show. Then, the 2009 Toppers Mountain Nebbiolo (tasting) won best wine of show. It’s no surprise to locals and those in the know, that Toppers Mountain is an outstanding vineyard and has been producing first-class gewurz (tastings) for many years, and more recently, top nebbiolo. 

The Symphony Hill gewurztraminer, by the way, won the trophy for the best ‘other’ white varietal in the Royal Melbourne Wine Awards the same week. Success piled upon success.

*My tasting notes for the top 50 wines of this show will be on the website by mid-November. There are some very smart wines among them. 

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