Sydney Royal Wine Show winners on parade
There should be a trophy for the luckiest wine of the show.
If there was such a thing, the winner at the recent 2018 Sydney Royal Wine Show would be Chapel Hill The Parson Cabernet Sauvignon 2017, which retails for AUD $18-$20. It took home the trophy for the best cabernet sauvignon of the show. Last year at the same show, Hardy’s The Chronicles 7th Green Cabernet Sauvignon 2016, which was selling in the supermarkets for AUD $10.40, won the same award, making it arguably the luckiest wine of the 2017 show.One-year-old wines are beating older gold-medal cabernets in trophy taste-offs, which is surely not encouraging what Len Evans used to call “improving the breed”.
Both of them are beautifully made wines, but they are minor wines, fruity but without much structure or complexity. They are ‘flattering’, as the French say, when young, and if that’s what you like to drink, then you should probably buy a case or more, but they are not great cabernets and they are not very serious wines.
I’m sure Chapel Hill chief winemaker Michael Fragos smiled as he happily carted the trophy home, but he would have much preferred it to have gone to one of his more serious cabernets, the Gorge Block or The Prophet (if they were in the show).
It seems to me there’s a problem when such young cabernets gain such high accolades. One-year-old wines are beating older gold-medal cabernets in trophy taste-offs, which is surely not encouraging what Len Evans used to call “improving the breed”.
On the good news front, an inexpensive wine that is superb, is Two Rivers Stone’s Throw Semillon. The 2018 (AUD $20) won two trophies – for the best young white wine and best value white wine. Its older sibling, the 2013 (which was also AUD $20 when young and is now AUD $50), also carried off two trophies, for best mature white wine and best single vineyard wine. A great result for the Upper Hunter and for Brett and Linda Keeping, the vineyard owners.
Giant Steps 2017 Yarra Valley Pinot Noir won the trophy for best pinot noir – and this is their regular (I don’t like to call it their standard) bottling: not one of their great single-vineyard wines. It’s AUD $35, a beautiful wine and a real gift for lovers of quality pinot.
Longview Nebbiolo Rosato 2018 (AUD $26) won the rosé trophy – the second year it’s done this at Sydney. More evidence that nebbiolo is an excellent variety for rosé. As proprietor Mark Saturno said, you can harvest the grapes early and the wine doesn’t taste green or unripe. Various vintages of this wine have won six trophies, 10 gold and five silver medals since 2014, including two trophies at the Canberra National Wine Show.
“It wasn’t that long ago that the chair of a certain wine show confided in us that the committee were thinking of cancelling the rosé class altogether. But now, the category has blossomed,” said Saturno.
At the Wine Communicators show luncheon, I really enjoyed the delicious Serafino Reserve Grenache 2017 (AUD $45), which won the trophy for best ‘other’ red varietal. It’s a modern, fresh, fruit-driven, early released style which was one of the most immediately pleasurable wines on the table with lunch. This style is doing a lot to introduce today’s drinkers to the delights of grenache. Winemaker Charles Whish and I discussed whether it would also have the legs to age well (if anyone cares about that these days), and I believe it does.
The big winner, as The Real Review contributor Toni Paterson MW wrote last week, was Penfolds 2017 Reserve Bin 17A Chardonnay (AUD $125, to be released later this year). It won four trophies: wine of show, best white wine and best chardonnay, capped by the Tucker Seabrook Trophy for the best wine of the capital city shows for the preceding year. It’s a sublime example of modern Australian chardonnay.