A trio of Margaret River wines has made a splash at the world’s biggest wine show.
Medals, specifically medals with gravitas, can have a big impact on wine sales.
Wines producers started to realise this back in the 1970s and began making wines that would stand out in the wine shows.
They were called ‘show wines’ but they came with a significant downside.
While they stood out in a line-up of 100 wines on the show tasting bench, they were often not particularly friendly wines to drink and usually featured too much of everything: oak, tannin and even fruit.
Thankfully, things have changed and the wine show judges these days look for wines with a little more subtlety and finesse; wines that you can actually enjoy to drink.
But there is no doubt wines adorned with medals attract consumers, even if the shiny gold stamp is from some dubious wine contest against a cluster of mundane wines.
The impact of show success was perfectly illustrated recently when three wines from Margaret River won best of show gongs at the 2023 Decanter World Wine Awards, the world’s biggest wine show.
This is a massive show, with 236 judges from 30 counties assessing more than 18,000 wines submitted from nearly 60 countries.
The three winning Western Australian wines were the Domaine Naturaliste Rebus cabernet sauvignon 2020, the Evans & Tate Redbrook Reserve cabernet sauvignon 2018, and the House of Cards Ace of Spades chardonnay 2022.
Needless to say, the wineries were only too happy to announce their success to the world.
And why wouldn’t they?
Within days of word of their success getting out, each wine was on allocation through mailing lists or through retail outlets, which in some cases limited the number of each wine they could sell.
Having recently tasted all three of these wines (again), I can see how they impressed the show judges.
They are not show wines in the old sense of the term, but instead offer tonnes of rich and generous flavours.
They are Australian and they are Margaret River, which is a compelling combination when you stack them up against wines from other countries.
Mr Dukes is one of the region’s best winemakers, making wines under his own label and for other labels.
And the success of House of Cards chardonnay was a suitable reward for the effort this small producer has put into its excellent range of wines.
In fact, these wines have consistently emerged with high scores in my tastings over recent years.
Evans & Tate Reserve cabernet sauvignon 2018 ($65)
From the wonderful 2018 vintage, which continues to amaze with its red wines in particular. This is a cracking wine. Leafy black fruits on the nose with a trace of brick dust, bay leaf and black olive. The palate is smooth and seamlessly structured with fine minerally tannins. A super wine with years ahead of it.
Cellar: 18 years
House of Cards Ace of Spades chardonnay 2022 ($85)
Immediately assails with an intense and power-laden aroma that suggests something special awaits. Does not take long before you see what all the fuss was about. Intense mix of butterscotch and fig with a peachy syrupy richness ladled over the top. The palate displays a rich and smooth texture cut with a fine acidity and a touch of slightly charry oak. Has a slightly lamb’s wool texture. A wonderful example of Margaret River chardonnay.
Cellar: 12 years
Domaine Naturaliste Rebus cabernet sauvignon 2020 ($40)
The wine is good. In fact the wine is very good. But the really remarkable thing is that it is so good for this price. Deep and concentrated blackcurrant with a fusing of minerally oyster shell and black olive. It’s as powerful a palate as you would expect from this vintage, but there is a supple and subtle finesse that captures all that is good with Margaret River cabernet. Bravo.
Cellar: 12 years
- Ray Jordan is one of Australia’s most experienced and respected wine journalists, contributing to newspapers and magazines over more than 40 years. In 2017 he co-authored The Way it Was: The History of the early years of the Margaret River Wine Region