20/09/2005 - 22:00

Quality reigns in the valley

20/09/2005 - 22:00


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The largest and most successful Swan Valley Wine Show in the event’s history has underlined the region’s increasing status as a producer of premium wines.

Quality reigns in the valley

The largest and most successful Swan Valley Wine Show in the event’s history has underlined the region’s increasing status as a producer of premium wines.

Held last week at the Vines Resort and Country Club, the event was marked by the rise in quality of wines across the board.

The first Swan Valley Wine Show was held in 1989. This year, more than 250 wines were presented to a panel of wine judges adjudicating across 15 categories, three more than last year.

Head of judges this year, Tony Devitt, said the 2005 show proved “uniquely successful”.

An industry veteran of 30 years and winemaker at Ashbrook Estate, Mr Devitt said the awards field represented a vast improvement in the quality of Swan Valley wines.

“I was very impressed with general standard,” Mr Devitt said. “The whites this year were particularly good.

“The further we go in the judging process, the less grossly faulty wines we encounter. There are advances in quality being made all the time.”

Special guest judge this year was Aldo Bratovic from South Australia. Reiterating Mr Devitt’s comments, Mr Bratovic told Gusto he was pleasantly surprised by the quality of the wines he saw.

“The standard was very good,” he said. “For me, the show reinforced the extraordinary quality of verdelho in this region. I was struck by its complexity.”

Citing the cabernet classes as surprisingly strong this year, both men were quick to confirm that the fortified styles were again outstanding.

“They [fortified wines] are a dying craft,” Mr Bratovic said. “They are extraordinary styles, some of which are not being produced anywhere else in the world.”

Both judges reinforced the importance of such show events for growing regions including the Swan Valley.

“Judging these shows provides a service to the industry. It is easy to begin to identify your wine with a myopic view of the world and as a winemaker you need to get out of that mindset,” Mr Bratovic said.

“We are trying to point out the best of breed so that our contemporaries then can identify the best wines as their target.”

Mr Devitt said the judging system helped makers look at their wines in terms of show standards.

The Swan Valley is a bit of an enigma on the Australia wine map. It is the hottest major wine-producing region in the country, and one of the oldest, with grapes having been grown since the early days of the colony.

But from heat comes challenge and opportunity to create something truly unique.

As Wine Industry Association of Western Australia president John Griffiths said during his address to the awards, the challenge now was to cement the Swan as a premium wine region.

And, to that end, the established names of the Swan are the driving forces behind this wine revolution, with the awards dominated by the likes of Talijancich, Kosovich and Lamont.

But the night truly belonged to James Talijancich.

His 1998 Verdelho Reserve won four individual awards – best verdelho, best Swan Valley table wine, best dry white table wine, and the sought after best wine of show.

Talijancich Wines was also named the show’s most successful exhibitor.

Best shiraz went to the 2003 Western Range Julimar Shiraz Viognier, which was also judged the best dry red table wine.

Topping a field of unprecedented quality in the fortified styles was John Kosovich Wines, which was named the most successful exhibitor of fortified wines.

The best old vines wine award was won by the non-vintage John Kosovich Liqueur Muscat. A wine of seemingly irrepressible character, it was also judged to be the show’s best fortified wine.

Swan Valley stalwart Dorham Mann finished proceeding with a moving speech on the valley and its future.

Mr Mann, son of the legendary Jack Mann, said it was important the community remained true to its roots, regardless of the continued growth and expansion.


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