I said it last year – but its worth saying again. The results of the Cairns Show Wine Awards are wonderful as a guide to value wine buying. Largely this is the result of the food matching classes under which wines are judged but also the requirement for wines entered to be currently available for sale. As well as large Australian producers there is a range of very small producers from a diverse range of locations. It was notable how well the new Woolworth’s brand Pinnacle performed as well as De Bortoli, Orlando/Jacobs Creek, McWilliams, Tyrrells, McGuigan and Blue Pyrenees alongside small specialised producers such as Shaw Vineyard (Murrumbatemen/Canberra), Home Hill (Tasmania), Tenafeate Creek (Barossa Valley), Coolangatta Estate (Shoalhaven/Nowra) Lucas Estate (Granite Belt), Lerida Estate (Lake George), Palmer Wines (Margaret River) and Rutherglen Estate (Rutherglen).
Several judges, wine makers at cool climate southern Australian wineries, expressed their delight in the reds on show. They expected that, in this tropical setting, most reds would be heavy and not so enjoyable but the opposite occurred. A range of reds was judged and lighter elegant styles from cool climates as well as fuller styles from areas such as South Australia did well.
A common comment from judges was the disparity between quality and the high volume categories favoured by many consumers – sauvignon blanc and blends, moscato and “alternative” sparkling wines such as Prosecco are all very popular but the quality of these classes in the show was disappointing. In contrast, the “traditional varieties” were wonderful – Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon. Some up and coming varieties were excellent – the classes for Verdelho, Pinot Grigio/Gris, Tempranillo, Malbec and Grenache particularly.