From our 2012 Newsletter:
I had the opportunity to be part of the 2012 Canberra International Riesling challenge in October as an associate judge. Just judging one grape and a noble one at that would give great insight into its diversity of style from around the world. Riesling is a grape that, more than any other variety expresses the place where it is grown. As a winemaker my task is to capture that and preserve its purity and intensity of flavour.
I was part of one judging panel of three judges and two associate judges. Knowing only the year of the wines, we individually assessed each wine in silence and then conferred. Only the judges’ score is counted for the medals, though any wine that was given a gold medal score by a judge or associate was brought back to be discussed and reassessed. Judges came from Germany, Singapore (they are serious about wine there) , New Zealand and Australia.
So how do you judge a wine? In a wine show a wine is assessed on its merits against an ideal wine and not each other. It’s how the wine tastes today, not how it might develop in the future that is important. The attributes of the ideal wine vary from judge to judge and this is why there is a panel to provide a forum for discussion and consensus. Scores can vary a lot. One judge may give a gold for a wine where another gives it no medal. In the end this wine may get a bronze. At other times the wine gets gold from all the judges. So what do you look for in a Riesling.
- No faults – like oxidation or volatile acidity (VA), mouldy characters,
- Balance between fruit intensity, acidity, phenolics (small amounts add texture and interest to wine) and sweetness (if any) so they combine to give a harmonious, pleasing sensation. with no one attribute dominating the wine.
- Persistence or length of finish is important. The longer the better.
Some of the judges used descriptors such as energy, focus, purity, nerve, and line.
And how did my scoring compare to the judges? There was good agreement, with one or two outliners where on a fresh pour the result was more favourable.
This first foray into wine judging though challenging and at times very intense was not to be missed.