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The Mt Barker wine show has come a long way since its inaugural year in 1978. It’s now a vital part of the wine show road trip, according to David Pike.

THE Western Australian wine show road trip has been completed with the results of the Qantas Western Australian Mt Barker Wine Show released last week.

The Mt Barker Show has been tasting and spitting out results for WA-only wine since 1978. In that first year, chairman of judges John Hanley told guests there were only two dozen wines available for tasting, with those on show “judged” out of the back of a car. This year there were 750 wines from nearly 150 exhibitors at Mt Barker.

The importance of this regional show is no longer questioned, and the results are an invaluable indicator for exhibitors and those associated with the State’s wine industry. There will always be questions asked about the results from wine shows, however the integral factor with this particular show is that it allows many of the smaller and establishing wineries and vineyards to get an indication of how their wines are progressing. It also helps established wineries maintain quality and ensure they are moving in the right direction.

It was interesting to note that there were more WA wines entered at Mt Barker than at the Perth Royal Show. John Hanley, who has been involved for 3 years, chaired this year’s show. Panel leaders Vanya Cullen and Mildara Blass respected winemaker Wendy Stuckey were assisted by a number of industry winemakers. During the show Mr Hanley suggested that perhaps some younger judges needed to be found.

Maybe the Agricultural Society could invite a number of judges to be involved in the WA shows in an apprentice-like role, or perhaps the wine education centre in Claremont could look at running an in-depth training pro-gram to pro-vide for a progression of qualified judges over the next few years.

Sometime ago I was sipping and spitting out at the Houghton Winery. Winemaker and Red Rock regular Larry Cherubino gave me a couple of wines to taste and said he was aiming to lift the bar with the quality of wine coming out of Houghtons.

The wines were part of the very successful, but at that stage yet to be officially named, GI (Geographical Indicator) wines.

The series released a few months ago include a Frankland shiraz and riesling, Margaret River cabernet and Pemberton sauvignon blanc, and a yet-to-be released merlot. The wines have all well and truly lifted the quality bar. Larry can justifiably be proud of his entire team responsible for these wines.

At Mt Barker, the Houghtons Margaret River Cabernet picked up yet another gold medal and trophy as well as the Qantas award for the wine of the show. This wine now has won more medals than the Aussie swim team and renovations out at the Houghton property seem to be in order so as to house the six trophies the cabernet has won.

The shiraz collected silver at Mt Barker to go along with the five gold medals already collected, as well as being in contention for both the Jimmy Watson and Max Schubert awards this year. A successful year all round for the Houghton company, which at the recent Liquor Industry awards was voted wholesaler of the year and took home the sales representative of the year award.

Other results from Mt Barker:



Best Dry White – Middlesex 31 2000 Chardonnay.

Made under contract at West Cape Howe. This Manjimup property only made tiny amounts of this wine so, if you want to get hold of this very good drop, contact West Cape Howe in Denmark.



Best Blended White – Edwards Vineyard Semillon Sauvignon Blanc 2001. Recently opened cellar door towards the southern end of Caves Road. Stuart Pym at Devils Lair was contracted to make this wine.



Best Riesling – Gilberts 2001 Riesling.

This is the second year in a row for Bev and Jim Gilbert. A fantastic wine and another triumph for the Great Southern riesling producers.



Best Sparkling –

Old Kent River 1998 Diamontina.

No medium sweet trophy was awarded.



Best Shiraz – Willespie 1999 Shiraz.

Best Older Dry White – Brookland Valley 1999 Chardonnay.



Best

Fortified Wine – Westfield Liqueur Verdelho

eight-year blend.

Surprisingly, no trophy was awarded for the best aged riesling.

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