17/10/2006 - 22:00

Wine show’s fresh focus

17/10/2006 - 22:00

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The Qantas Wine Show of Western Australia broke with almost three decades of tradition this year when, for the first time, the event was held in Perth.

Wine show’s fresh focus

The Qantas Wine Show of Western Australia broke with almost three decades of tradition this year when, for the first time, the event was held in Perth.

But the move from the awards’ home in Mt Barker will only strengthen its position on the national awards scheme, according to industry officials.

The gala awards show held this week in Perth honoured the many successes of Western Australian wines, wine-makers and wineries.

The Qantas show, seen by many industry pundits as the benchmark guide to WA wines, is the only wine show to exclusively judge WA-grown and vintaged wines.

As such, it compares WA wines and wineries against one another and provides a unique look inside the emerging wine regions of the state.

Wine show committee chair Angelo Diletti, of Castle Rock Estate winery in the Porongorups, told Gusto the Qantas show is unique in its judging criteria.

“It is the only one of its kind to judge WA wines with WA wines,” Mr Diletti says. “It’s not a regional show. It gives context to regionality.

“A show like this enables local producers to contrast their wines against their peers and it provides feedback that is more relevant [for them].”

This is especially valuable because, so often in the wine industry, neighbouring producers can be the closest of competitors.

This year marked the return to the show of keynote speaker, chief judge and noted Sydney Morning Herald wine writer, Huon Hooke.

Mr Hooke says he is pleased to have seen the show grow over the years to become a beneficial part of the local wine scene.

“What it does is give the winemakers of this state a sympathetic hearing. Smaller shows have more space, more time and more local wine styles,” Mr Hooke says.

Run by the Mount Barker & Districts Agricultural Society, and on the eve of its 30th birthday, the show’s position in the wine scene could not be stronger. Entries for this year were up again, with 1,200 wines entered across 40 classes.

But more importantly, the event’s organisers recently announced a new three-year sponsorship deal with naming rights sponsor, Qantas.

Mr Hooke says WA favourites semillon sauvignon blanc blends and rieslings from the Great Southern were among the top performers this year. But shiraz was the star of the show.

“There were eight gold medals in a class of 109 wines. That is a strike rate of 8 per cent, where something about 4 per cent is usually considered very good,” Mr Hooke says.

This confirms the rise of locally produced shiraz, a variety now on par with some of the country’s best.

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