Alpine Val­leys win chal­lenge

Judges find ‘zeit­geist’ at an­nual wine show

Myrtleford Times - - Front Page - By JAMIE KRONBORG

LEAD­ING wine judge Jane Faulkner has de­scribed North East wine grape grow­ers’ and vi­gnerons’ pur­suit of al­ter­na­tive va­ri­eties as ‘zeit­geist’– em­blem­atic of the spirit of the time.

The Aus­tralian Al­ter­na­tive Wine Va­ri­eties’ Show judge last week in Myrtle­ford made the ob­ser­va­tion at the end of the two-day North East Wine Chal­lenge, a dis­tinc­tive com­pe­ti­tion which ranks wine by style from the wider re­gion’s five ge­o­graph­i­cal in­di­ca­tions, or dis­tricts – Alpine Val­leys, Beech­worth, Glen­rowan, King Val­ley and Ruther­glen.

Ms Faulkner chaired a panel of five, which in­cluded Gap­sted Wines’ wine­maker Blair Jensen and Ringer Reef’s Julie Holm as as­so­ciate judges, to as­sess 213 en­tries – an in­crease of 50 on last year.

“Of­ten these re­gions are re­ally good in one par­tic­u­lar thing – like the Alpine Val­leys’ tem­pranillo is fan­tas­tic and Beech­worth chardon­nay is out­stand­ing,” she said.

“But when I looked at the re­sults it’s clear that some­thing’s go­ing on.

“It’s zeit­geist. The num­ber of en­tries and qual­ity are at a higher level right across the board.

“It’s in­cre­men­tal year-on- year and it demon­strates that pro­duc­ers are say­ing ‘Well, we think this show is re­ally wor­thy of us put­ting our wines in’.

“That’s an ef­fort and al­ways an ex­pense. But the num­bers are in­creas­ing – and the re­sult is bet­ter wines.”

Ms Faulkner said vi­gnerons and wine­mak­ers in the wider re­gion were “mak­ing a mark” with al­ter­na­tive grape va­ri­eties, such as tem­pranillo, ver­mentino and bar­bera.

“These are va­ri­eties in which the Alpine Val­leys, in par­tic­u­lar, are do­ing so well,” she said.

“It’s just a mat­ter of time be­fore (the wines made from them) get more recog­ni­tion.

“For ex­am­ple, the chief of judges’ tro­phy went to a tem­pranillo.

“It’s gone be­yond be­ing a wine to watch – it’s truly mak­ing its mark.

“There was a 2016 tem­pranillo in the Chal­lenge that I felt was so good – com­plex, with such beau­ti­ful fruit, bal­ance and length. “It it was quite spine-tin­gling. “It’s ex­cit­ing, it’s lovely and it was from May­ford.

“It was just so good and needed to be recog­nised.

“There was an­other re­ally fan­tas­tic wine, Billy But­ton’s ‘The Af­fa­ble Bar­bera’, one of Joanne Marsh’s wines.

“It’s prob­a­bly one of the best bar­beras I’ve had in a long time and made faith­fully to va­ri­ety and style.

“And what I love is that when you look at these so-called al­ter­na­tive va­ri­eties you know that there’s not a lot of plant­ings, but what’s com­ing from them is so good – and that’s what makes this show so ex­cit­ing.

“We’re tast­ing the best of what these va­ri­eties can be.”

Ms Faulkner said the Chal­lenge demon­strated that the wider North East was be­com­ing what could be de­scribed as an ‘al­ter­na­tive va­ri­eties’ cap­i­tal’ of Aus­tralian wine.

The ‘wine of show’ was Bro­ken­wood In­digo Vine­yard’s 2016 chardon­nay, which scored 96 points – as did an­other Bro­ken­wood In­digo Val­ley 2016 called ‘Men­doza IV, made from a chardon­nay clone.

Billy But­ton’s 2017 pinot blanc was judged best al­ter­na­tive white va­ri­ety and 2016 bar­bera the best al­ter­na­tive red va­ri­ety.

The re­gional shield went to Alpine Val­leys.

Pore­punkah Pub is plan­ning an early De­cem­ber din­ner fea­tur­ing awarded wines from this year’s North East Wine Chal­lenge.

De­tails of the din­ner should be avail­able next month.

PHOTO: Jamie Kronborg

TOP FIELD: North East Wine Chal­lenge chief judge Jane Faulkner with Alpine Val­leys’ Vi­gnerons’ pres­i­dent Micheal Freuden­stein af­ter the Alpine re­gion won the 2017 Wine Chal­lenge shield.

PHOTO: Jamie Kronborg

GOLD: In­digo Vine­yard prin­ci­pal Rob Hawk­ings was de­lighted with the North East Wine Chal­lenge ‘wine of show’ tro­phy for the Bro­ken­wood In­digo Val­ley 2016 chardon­nay, which was awarded 96 points. Mr Hawk­ings was also named viti­cul­tur­al­ist of the year, but said that hon­our prop­erly be­longed to Casey White, who has since been ap­pointed as vine­yard man­ager at Gi­a­conda.

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