We all have a drop that we prefer – a bold red, a crisp white or a dry sparkling but what does it actually take to judge and award medal-worthy wines?
Of course, our personal favourites don’t necessarily need to be Grange but there are definitive characteristics that make a wine superb and it all starts on the vine. Environmental influences – climate, soil, terrain (collectively referred to as ‘terroir’) all play a huge part in the quality of the vine. From here, production practices and consistent testing all play a part in that first splash that hits our glass. Winemaker Geoff Alexander from Brown Brothers, Milawa and winemaker Andy Davey from our very own Ararat campus were guest judges at our annual Student Wine Awards held at Fairfield campus. Students presented rosés, which were individually made in demijohns using Shiraz fruit from the Growling Frog vineyard. There was also a ‘class wine’ (made in class) where decisions were made by consensus. Most regarded it as less impressive than almost all of the individual student wines. The reds were wines made by current or former students at home or individually at their place of work. Batch sizes varied from 25L to over 500 dozen. Geoff and Andy carried out the blind tasting of 20 wines on the day and here’s what they were looking for: Appearance The first factor in wine judging is appearance. Much like the old saying ‘you eat with your eyes first’, wine judging adopts a similar stance; judges look for clarity and colour. Rosés should be a pale salmon through to light crimson in colour. Nose The olfactory senses are most important for evaluating wine flavour and quality. Through this ‘nose’ stage, judges are seeking an attractive bouquet and key descriptors will start to shine through - raspberry, passionfruit, chocolate, and more. This stage is where any faults with a wine will first raise their dubious heads. Palate Together with classic taste characteristics of salty, sweet, sour, bitter and umami; judges also look for flavour comparisons with the nose. Spicy reds can show cloves, black pepper or anise. Common fruit flavours (all from the grapes) include citrus, berries or tropical fruits such as pineapple. The flavours from a high quality wine will last for many seconds on the palate. You can see the full wine flavour profiles here <link to wine wheel>
2018 Student Wine Awards
So with all these factors taken into consideration, how did our students go at the Wine Awards? In the white and rosé class (15 wines) Judges, Geoff and Andy both really liked Kelly Thomas’ rosé which gained a silver medal score of 17. A special mention to Andrea Roberts-Davison’s sparkling rosé made by the Pétillant – naturel (Pét-nat) method. All the wines in the red table wine class impressed the judges but the star was Haydn Black’s 2016 Black & Ginger Grampians Shiraz. This shiraz is available for sale from the Black & Ginger website. Haydn isn’t a stranger to the awards circuit - his 2015 Black & Ginger Grampians Shiraz won one of only four gold medals awarded in the Shiraz class of the 2016 Western Victoria Wine Challenge and won the Consumer’s Favourite in the Shiraz Category. Andy and Geoff awarded several wines bronze medal status on the day. Special thanks to all the students and teachers that bring these wines to ‘fruition’. If you would like to find out more about our winemaking viticulture courses, please contact us on 9269 8400 or visit the website here. We also have accredited wine tasting and wine appreciation courses that you can find out more about here. The scoring system used was the Australian Wine Show scoring - with 3 points for appearance, 7 for the nose and 10 for the palate. 18.5/20 or above = a gold medal. 17 – 18.5 is silver. 15.5- 17 is a bronze. The judges awarded several bronze medals.
Interview / Photo Opportunity
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