Victorian Campbell Mattinson and New South Welshman Gary Walsh have been very busy compiling their The Big Red Wine Book 2010-2011.

This is the third year of the book now pushing more than 1000 red wines (the scribes don’t tell the exact number and I didn’t feel like the counting exercise).

These guys found plenty to write about and I recommend it as a good red wine tragic’s read – it’s light and breezy, easy to grip and comprehensive with its style coverage.

They give RED awards for wines less than USD 17.40 (shiraz, cabernet, red blend, imported red), best winery, best wine, best winemaker, best pinot, cabernet, shiraz, merlot, red blend, alternative red, imported red and best organic/biodynamic red.

The most important declaration about the basis of their wine selection comes on page two, “we’re not wine tasting gods – we’re just two blokes who live and breathe wine, and love the stuff”. I am not sure if this is a cop out in case some wines sneak through with sensory faults. Campbell and Gary probably leave the technical rejection stage to wine show judges.

Privately these guys are saying they “sort out, sledge and swoon over the best and worst reds available in Australia this year”. Remember the compilation is based on the percentage of brand owners sending wines to these tastings – hopefully it was a high one.

Scoring: I have noticed the upward trend on scribes’ wine scores out of 100. Looking at wines scoring 94 points three years ago, they now easily reach 97, or even 98. Part of that is saying our wines are getting better, I believe that, but there is also a subtle competition going between wine book authors to allocate higher wine points.

That in turn forces other scribes to point wines upwards to be seen in step by the reading public.

I think Campbell and Gary are pretty grounded with their points: only three wines reach 97 (Mount Pleasant Maurice O’Shea Shiraz 07, Howard Park Abercrombie Cabernet 08 and Bindi Block 5 Pinot Noir 08).

And I had a read to find the Queenslanders who made the cut.

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