Wine

Mas­ter of Wine Emma Jenk­ins ex­plains the process be­hind winning a medal.

Australian Women’s Weekly NZ - - CONTENTS -

WINNING A GOLD MEDAL in a wine show quick­ens wine­mak­ers’ hearts ev­ery­where, be they sea­soned cam­paign­ers or new to the mar­ket. So how are these medals gar­nered and should you buy the awarded wines?

Pro­duc­ers pick one of the nu­mer­ous lo­cal or in­ter­na­tional shows, pay the en­try fee, send in their wines, then sit back hop­ing for suc­cess. Life is a lit­tle bit harder for the judges, who have the daunt­ing job of tast­ing more than a hun­dred wines a day across sev­eral days from 8am on­wards – yes, 8am! The wines are sorted by va­ri­ety and judged ‘blind’ by pan­els to en­sure fair­ness and im­par­tial­ity; judges don’t know if a wine is made by their friend down the road, or the win­ery that fired them from their first job. The wines are scored in­di­vid­u­ally at first, giv­ing points for bal­ance, har­mony, character and ‘typ­ic­ity’ (plus all­round de­li­cious­ness!) be­fore de­cid­ing on a fi­nal panel score. Around five per cent of wines win Golds, and there are Sil­vers and Bronzes up for grabs too. The Golds are then re-tasted to decide the Tro­phy wines for each class as well as Best Wine in Show.

Mar­ket­ing al­ways shouts about any medal received, so should wine-drinkers take any no­tice? It de­pends, re­ally. Take a look at where the medal was won. There’s a big dif­fer­ence in ku­dos be­tween the Lon­don In­ter­na­tional Wine Chal­lenge and the Eke­tahuna A&P Show. Less scrupu­lous pro­duc­ers some­times even have lit­tle gold stick­ers on their bot­tles declar­ing such triv­i­al­i­ties as ‘Much Awarded Pro­ducer’ or ‘Sup­ports En­dan­gered Pen­guins’, and some stick­ers are gen­er­ated by in­di­vid­ual re­view­ers who are paid by pro­duc­ers to re­view their wines.

That said, medals from rep­utable shows are a pretty re­li­able in­di­ca­tion of qual­ity, but it also pays to keep in mind they are only the wines that showed best on that day to that par­tic­u­lar group of judges. Dif­fer­ent shows may give dif­fer­ent re­sults. Many winer­ies also don’t en­ter their wines for a va­ri­ety of rea­sons (cost, phi­los­o­phy, tiny vol­umes) and many other good wines just don’t suit the show en­vi­ron­ment.

Buy­ing medal-winning wines will give you a good look at some of NZ’s bench­mark wines, but don’t for­get there are many non-gilded trea­sures wait­ing to be found as well.

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