Behind the scenes of Mainfreight International Worlds Greatest Shiraz Challenge 2019

One of the aspects I have always enjoyed about being a winemaker has been to participate as a judge at many wine shows around Australia. Recently I was invited to judge at the Mainfreight International  worlds greatest Shiraz challenge 2019 which is run by the Winestate magazine.

Winestate is one of the most successful trade and consumer publications dating back to 1978 when the Australian wine industry was only a fraction of the size or global importance of what it is today. Total readership in Australia is over 100,000 consumers per edition. They also now distribute to Asia with a rapidly growing following.

Over a four day period nearly 500 wines were judged. All wines were assessed in a blind manner by a panel of three judges which rotated each day. Judging with me on the second day was Janelle Zerk (Z wines, Barossa Valley) and Thomas Darmody (Taylors wines, Clare Valley).

We judged the wines in brackets of 15 to 25 wines with all the wines in each bracket being from a similar price point. After collating the scores out of 20 each wine is attributed a star rating out of 5, with only the very best wines earning the top 5 star rating. On the day that I judged we tasted over 130 Shiraz wines from all over Australia and New Zealand.  Wines were rewarded from all the main Shiraz districts like Barossa Valley and McLaren Vale as well as from the less widely known areas like Geelong in Victoria. Any wine that received 5 stars then moves forward into the final tasting where a winner is chosen as the best Shiraz of the year.

The results will be released in the spring edition of Winestate. Recent award winners include both the 2010 and 2013 Penfolds Grange and the 2010 Bird in Hand MAC Shiraz.  I’ll certainly be looking over those results once released quite closely!