The first wine show of Australian capital cities is underway in Brisbane this week. The RNA means the Royal National Association of Queensland – an agricultural society.
The RNA have hosted this show since the 50s and supported agricultural competitions and exhibits since its inception in the late 1870s.
Of more recent times it’s better known as a part of the Royal Queensland Food and Wine Show because meats, olive oil, cheese and other good digestible morsels are also paraded and tasted.
Twelve judges taste – four panels of three; so each group will taste approximately one quarter of the entries – 1935, over four days. On the fifth all judges taste the wines in trophy contention.
Sharing the same wines lined up in Riedel Magnum Overture glassware were David O’Leary (O’Leary Walker, Clare and Adelaide Hills) and Kevin Glastonbury (red winemaker at Yalumba-Barossa Valley)
Today was a good start. There were 54 commercial chardonnays (commercial means big volume production and holdings of a minimum of 2000 dozen).
Amongst these wines we found two gold medals and wrote a report about the standard in Australia at this time.
“Outstanding class; top gold excellent and sophisticated, the other more funkier. Chardonnay styles are on the rise and show diversity; we were more appreciative of less development and lessening oak but too many wines were prematurely aged or too funky.”
These comments are directed at all the winemakers who exhibited in the class (I will report the actual wines later in the week when these anonymous glasses are identified by their producer names).
One chardonnay in the class was cork finished, the other 53 were screw capped. Guess what happened to the former bottle – it was oxidised, and was discounted.
In today’s era, a faulty cork does not instantly demand the wine be re-poured as a “second chance”. If a cork fails then too bad; the wine is just downpointed to a poor showing.
Such detailed notes give exhibitors quite close indications of where their wine style fell, and how they related to the upwardly rising chardonnay style standard. And we noted, entry 12 was old fashioned.
Australian chardonnay is undergoing a style refit; wines are more steely, less oaky and more sculptured in their texture. You need to taste chardonnay carefully to secrete all the angles and tastes – that’s why it’s such an important world variety.
Then there were 52 cabernet sauvignons in the commercial group to be judged. We found just one gold medal and deduced the cabernets of Australia, made in big volumes, were in poor shape. These were mainly the 2007 and 2008 vintages.
Comments read, “Poor class; one outstanding wine, pure varietal expression. Too many wines were not varietal cabernet – were plummy, over-ripe, minty, lacking ripeness or without character. Some poor wines are the result of the 2007 and 2008 vintages which were not great”.
What we were saying is that many entries did not smell and taste like cabernet sauvignon. That has to be the starting point, but hot and stressful vintages can toy with the ability of vineyards to produce essential cabernet characters. That’s life in agricultural pursuits, and the weather has a bearing.
This year’s numbers were down a little, as exhibitors think closely about their level of entries in tight industry times. This show once had 2500 entries a decade ago.
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