AS GOOD AS A HALLIDAY

WINE COM­PAN­ION RAT­INGS HAVE HUGE IN­FLU­ENCE ON IN­DUS­TRY

Life & Style Weekend - - MAGAZINE / FOOD & WINE - WORDS: TRAVIS SCHULTZ Travis Schultz is the Prin­ci­pal of Travis Schultz Law but he has been moon­light­ing as a res­tau­rant re­viewer and wine writer for the last 15 years.

These days, ev­ery­one with a so­cial me­dia ac­count and a mo­bile phone is a food or wine critic and the power of these so-called “in­flu­encers” in­creases ex­po­nen­tially with the in­crease in reach of ev­ery flip­pant, if not ill-con­sid­ered, post. And it’s a sad re­al­ity that in the wine in­dus­try the for­tunes of winer­ies and wine mak­ers can wax and wane on the im­pact of a few strokes on a key­board or fin­ger­prints on a smart phone. The big­ger the per­sona of the au­thor of any opin­ion piece, the greater the po­ten­tial for an ef­fect on con­sumers. And there’s ar­guably no big­ger in­flu­encer in the Aus­tralian wine in­dus­try than James Halliday. Each year the Halliday Wine Com­pan­ion is re­leased in Au­gust and in the lead up you can al­most feel the ten­sion ris­ing within in­dus­try rank and file. A rat­ing score in the high 90s al­most guar­an­tees that a wine will sell out quickly and cre­ate de­mand for fu­ture years. But a dis­ap­point­ing score in the mid-80s can be a stigma that will tran­scend fu­ture vin­tages. In Au­gust this year, the Halliday Awards an­nounced Seville Es­tate as the Win­ery of the Year, and Ju­lian Lang­wor­thy of the (Mar­garet River) Fog­a­rty Wine Group as wine­maker of the year. Among the high-scor­ing wines were some of the usual sus­pects, but there were also some big scores for up-and-com­ers as well as some of the well es­tab­lished and re­li­able house­hold names. Among the big win­ners was An­goves – a Mclaren Vale-based, fam­ily-owned win­ery that had 17 wines that scored 90 plus points, in­clud­ing 97 points for the 2016 War­boys Vine­yard Shi­raz Gre­nanche. You can be sure that it will sell out pretty quickly, so if you hap­pen to see it, buy as much as you can (and if there is any left, give me a call). An­other War­boys suc­cess story was the 2016 War­boys vine­yard Shi­raz. It scored 96 points from Halliday, and hav­ing tried it re­cently, the su­pe­rior scor­ing is un­sur­pris­ing. There are hints of red liquorice on the nose and spicy stewed plums and cas­sis across the palate. The rivers of dark fruit run deep through the mid-palate be­fore cedar, fine tan­nins and savoury char­ac­ters be­come tan­gled in an en­dur­ing en­core. Hard to be­lieve that you can buy it for about $40 a bot­tle! I don’t al­ways agree with the opin­ions of the ex­perts, but when it comes to Mr Halliday, we can at least agree on the qual­ity of the War­boys’ of­fer­ing.

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