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THE Great Southern Wine Festival, to be held over the coming long weekend, promises to be one of the highlights of the WA wine calendar with a host of lunches, dinners and opportunities to taste the quality wines being produced in this region. At a wine tasting I attended down in the Great Southern early this year the overwhelming point was the outstanding overall quality that was being presented by wineries. This weekend promises to offer an indulgence in the delights of regional produce from the Great Southern.

Sunday is the weekend’s big day out with Wignalls Winery near Albany playing host to the region’s wineries. At Wignalls you will be able to taste as many of the region’s wines as you feel the need to. In particular, I am interested in tasting through the stunning rieslings and shiraz wines that are becoming the benchmark of this region. Tickets ($12) are available at the gate and the ‘big tent’ is open from 1pm to 8pm. Transport is available back into Albany from Wignalls. While each of the wineries on display will have plenty of wines to interest you, here are some of my favourite examples that define the essence of the Great Southern – Castle Rock, Howard Park and Frankland Estate riesling and the shiraz wines from Plantagent and West Cape Howe. Those interested in pinot noir should try the offerings of Wignalls, Somerset Hill and Old Kent River.

Some of the other events worth seeking out are the lunches and dinners at a number of the wineries. Howard Park has again invited Frasers chef Brad Ford to preside over the barbecue on Saturday night so you are able to sit back and enjoy the winery’s core product and some special museum wines. Contact the winery on 9848 2345 for more details. Galafrey Winery is the place to be for lunch on Saturday. If you have not visited Galafrey before you will find a fabulous relaxed atmosphere and stunning views. Contact 9851 2022 for more information and bookings. West Cape Howe has teamed up with a number of food and wine gurus to present its annual “Culinary Inquisition”, an evening of total bliss for lovers of fine food and wine with several mini master classes culminating in a long-table dinner. Places for this event are hard to find. For further details contact 9848 2959.

With all of the modern technology available it is hard to understand the major blooper made at the awards ceremony at the 2002 BMW Perth Royal Show on September 13. Grayln Wines was awarded the trophy for the Most Successful Western Australian Exhibitor. At the time it raised a few eyebrows as perennial winner the Houghton Wine Company usually enters so many more wines than any other WA exhibitor that it is virtually a shoo-in for the trophy. Thus it was not really a surprise to learn that the trophy awarded to Grayln was returned and re-awarded to Houghtons. It seems an administrative error was to blame in the addition of scores. It looks like someone will need to ensure there a plenty of batteries for the calculator and a sharp pencil at the show next year to make sure the results add up.

Something local

Plantagenet Hazard Hill Semillon Sauvignon Blanc 2002 rrp $9.99 16.75/20 points

This fabulous value-for-money wine is dynamic for this price. You have got to love a wine that states on the back label “ideal wine to be enjoyed with many foods”, which really means this is a quaffa. You will drink plenty of this over the next few months if you like zippy, fresh citrus and tropical fruits. Showing plenty of varietal characters and palate weight, with a zingy finish, this is a beauty.

Something from the east

Mt Langi 1999 Shiraz rrp $50.00 18.75/20 points

Plain and simple: this is a stunning wine that you must add to you cellar. Aromas of dark berry fruits, damsons and black cherries, licorice, touches of spice and pepper combine with an elegant use of oak. The palate shows ripe rich fruits, with integrated acidity and tannins. There is plenty to find in this complex shiraz from winemaker Trevor Mast – delicious fruit that is soft and approachable now, yet will still be a shining light in another ten years. It is a ripper. Available through Negociants Australia, 9350 5544.

Something foreign

Isole E Olena Chianti Classico rrp $25.00 18.50/20 points

This wine stood out against wine selling for twice the price with its seductive savoury characters that really entice. Fragrant yet savoury cherries and mulberries combine with a touch of earthy oak aromas to lead you to a palate that is seductive and would come alive when served with food. The palate showed savoury red berry fruits with touches of brambles lively integrated acidity and dusty tannins that build across the palate. Plenty left in the kitty on the finish. Quite the whole package. Available through Negociants Australia, 9350 5544.

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