I’ve just wrapped up the second day of Winewise Championship judging here in Canberra, and pleased to announce that it was another smorgasbord of gold medal wines.
The 2020 Chardonnay bracket this morning was magnificent – one of those lineups were every egg is a bird. The trophy winner will surprise few people – it’s a perennial hero of the show circuit for a good reason, wowing judges and thirsty stewards (the bottle disappeared in no time) with its power. Believe the hype.
The other big winner today was Cabernet. In some shows I’ve judged in recent years, Cabernet has been the poison bracket, punctuated by drying, tired, overwhelming wines that are hard to judge and hard to drink afterwards. But the glories from the 2019 and 2018 Cabernet lineups this afternoon was right up there – finally, these were wines of lavish, yet not overt, fruit richness and grown-up tannins. Sure, my teeth hate me now, but it was like a sigh of relief. Cabernet, as it should be, cloaked in its tannic glory…
As for negatives, well the Pinot Grigio bracket was forgettable. Ditto Vermentino. And my favourite wines across the strong Viognier & Marsanne classes were outpointed (not by me) for the Other Whites Trophy by my least favourite wine of the bracket.
I know that everyone is interested in how the #huntfordecentbyorestaurants is coming along, and last night was a solid entrant. Located in the very suburban Garran, Orto pizza was simple and had unquestionably delicious pizza. I’d go takeaway to be honest, as the ambience isn’t quite ‘let’s sit down and drink Burgundy’. Still, fun times, and worth a visit for anyone after a run up the nearby Red Hill.
Naturally, there were wines, with this Pinot face-off reminding that good bottles of Burgundy will make you rethink your Chambertin stocks.
First up was an 04 Tignanello (above) that still rudely youthful. At first the tannins and oak were still dominant forces. I had another half glass at the end of dinner and it looked much more integrated, yet still pretty hulking in its power and weight in that Super Tuscan Sangio way. Drink now or hold, it’s a top-draw wine.
Speaking of top draw, this Morey-Saint-Denis was a thing of beauty. It combined the density and fruit width of the appellation, yet with silken edges. This is what Burgundy is about. Yes yes yes.
The other two 2017 wines below looked completely overawed in the Burgundy’s company. The Giant Steps was pretty, varietal and had lovely fruit, but not quite the structure to deal with the Les Ruchots and the Dexter was curiously light and simple – all one-dimensional red fruit that faded quick. Outgunned, probably, but it was hard to argue that the Burgundy wasn’t on a whole other level. Spicy pizza destroyed all but the Burgs too.
Maybe my red Burgundy buying hiatus is over…
Tonight is the full judges and stewards dinner, so the wine needs to step up yet another notch. Watch for photos to come.
P.S. The cover photo is of the carpet at Thoroughbred Park where we are judging this week. The designers clearly couldn’t help themselves…