The fourteenth annual Australian Alternative Varieties Wine Show (AAVWS) results are in and South Australian wine region McLaren Vale has bagged 8 out of the 16 awards! Chief Judge Jane Faulkner has declared the awards to be “the best to date”.
“The results show how Australia’s winemaking regions have embraced the alternative,” she says.
The trophies have been handed out this weekend on the River Murray at a lunch prepared by Chefs Frank Cammora and Stefano di Pieri.
Wines from 24 different regions were awarded gold medals at this year’s Show with S.C. Pannell taking Best Wine of Show for a fifth time with his McLaren Vale 2013 Tempranillo Touriga blend.
McLaren Vale Winemaker Corrina Wright is reported to have cried tears of joy when told of her trophy win for Best White Wine of the Show for the Oliver’s Taranga 2013 Fiano.
The inaugural Best New Zealand Wine Trophy was awarded to Waimea Estates Gruner Veltliner, a new Albarino class was created and entries to many existing classes doubled in number.
“It was great to see twice the number of Nero d’Avola entries this year. Producers are really getting into the variety – being true to it rather than trying to make Shiraz – celebrating what they are but in an Aussie context,” Jane Faulkner says.
The Show also welcomed new fortified categories and a new trophy for best fortified awarded to Rutherglen’s Stanton and Killeen for their rare Topaque.
President of the Show Louisa Rose says the results reflect a “coming of age” for alternative wines and vines.
“The vines are getting older. The winemakers are more assured. We are fourteen years into this show and the results reflect increasing confidence, attention and experience in the vineyard and in the cellar,” she says.
International Judge Walter Speller (writer for jancisrobinson.com and Italian wine specialist) said Australia “can be a real second home for Italian varieties”.
“I was not versed in Australian expression of Italian grapes until this week,” he says.
“I had no idea what to expect but I have been so impressed by the quality of the wines and the service the Show does for the Australian wine community,” he says.
“The AAVWS is a fantastic instrument to attract attention to current issues in Australian wine but also to identify potential in Australian wines like no other Show can.
“It’s about an exchange of thought, shared experience, paying attention to the wines. I think Australia can actually give an impetus back to Italy because some of the Italian varieties made here are more convincing than what the natives are producing, Sagrantino for example,” he says.
Speaking from strict bed rest with a broken foot, Best Wine of Show Trophy winner Stephen Pannell said his Tempranillo Touriga blend is a wine that “responded to our Australian climate.”
“I have always been interested in moving away from dominance of French wines – moving towards Mediterranean varieties,” he says. “But I never intended to make a dry red from Touriga!”
Pannell planted the Touriga back in the late 90s when working for Hardy’s to make Port.
“I was sick of making Port from Shiraz. Then in 2008 we had the huge heat wave in South Australia. It was 37 degrees and the Shiraz was coming in at 20 Baume but not the Tempranillo and Touriga. I knew then there was a new way with these varieties as the climate changed.”