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Wine

So, what do wine ratings actually mean

With Trophies, Gold, Silver, and Bronze medals, not to mention points out of 100, it’s easy to be bamboozled by wine ratings. Find out how they’re scored and what they actually mean.

Wine Selectors Tasting Panellist and wine show judge, Adam Walls, explores what it takes be a champion wine.

 

THE AUSTRALIAN 20-POINT WINE SHOW SYSTEM

At Wine Selectors our expert Tasting Panel uses the Australian wine show judging system.

All wines are tasted ‘blind’, meaning the Tasting Panel knows what variety and vintage they are tasting but not the label, brand, region, winemaker, or producer.

The Australian wine show circuit uses the 20-point system, awarding points out of three for appearance, seven for the nose and 10 for the palate. Scores are then added and medals awarded for Bronze, Silver, and Gold as follows:

Gold: 18.5 to 20 – an exceptional wine

Silver: 17 to 18 – an extremely good wine

Bronze: 15. 5 to 16.5 – a good wine

At Wine Selectors each Panel Tasting is made up of three Panel Members and one Chairman. The final score each wine receives is the average of the four judges, and only wines receiving a minimum of a Bronze are accepted by the Panel.

THE 100-POINTS WINE RATING SYSTEM

Some wine critics use the 100-point system, especially in the USA, where Robert Parker and Wine Spectator use this method. Scoring for this system is as follows:

100 – 95 is equivalent to a Gold medal

94 – 90 is equivalent to a Silver medal

89 – 85 is equivalent to a Bronze medal.

In Australia, the 100-point system is used by a number of wine writers like Rob Geddes and James Halliday, however, James Halliday’s system ranges from 75 to 100.

A number of other wine publications also use the five-star rating system like Winestate where 5 stars is a Gold medal, 4 stars is a Silver and 3 stars is a Bronze.

With regards to a Trophy, this is the very best of all the Gold medal wines within a ‘class’ (or category), as judged at a wine show, however, sometimes a Trophy is not awarded.

WHY WE USE THE AUSTRALIAN 20-POINT WINE SHOW SYSTEM

While these rating systems can be a little confusing and no one system it better than the other, their aim is the same, to reflect the quality of the wine.

At Wine Selectors we use the 20-point Australian wine show judging system which hails from Europe and the UK, and is used by the world’s most reputable wine writer and critic, Janis Robinson MW (Master of Wine). Historically, it is the system Australian wine has been judged by and for our Panellists, it ensures a reliable result. You can be assured at Wine Selectors that of the thousands of wines our Panel tastes every year, (in fact the Panel tasted over 3, 500 wines in 2016), only the very best get through the rigorous selection process.

Our Tasting Panel of perceptive personalities and palates comprises winemakers, international wine show judges, and wine educators. With an amazing 120 years collective experience in the wine industry, they are extremely knowledgeable. Most importantly, all of them have spent more years than they’d care to admit enjoying wine themselves! With an age range spanning 50 years, our Tasting Panel is very much in tune with the palates and requirements of all Australian wine lovers. Here’s cheers to that!

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Wine
What's in a label?
Words by Mark Hughes on 19 Aug 2017
I recently had the privilege of watching the legendary Liverpool FC towel up Sydney FC in a soccer friendly in a private suite at ANZ Stadium courtesy of Claymore Wines . The Clare Valley winery is owned by Adelaide doctor Anura Nitchingham, who became a lifelong Liverpool fan while attending university in the northern England city back in the 80s. Since founding his own winery, he’s been able take his fandom to the next level with the Claymore Wines Liverpool FC range , hence the invite to the match. During the half-time break, with the Reds comfortably leading 3-0, I observed a young couple at the bar looking through the range of Claymore Wines on offer. “Can I try the Purple Rain Sauvignon Blanc …I just love Prince,” the young lass asked of the barmaid. “I’ll have the London Calling,” said he, seemingly unaware of the varietal. It’s a Cabernet Malbec blend, by the way, and a good one, having recently won Platinum  at the Decanter World Wine Awards. Besides football, Anura’s other great love is music. So instead of having wines like a ‘single vineyard Shiraz’, Claymore’s labels bear the name of some of Anura’s favourite songs and albums, such as the Dark Side of the Moon Shiraz, Joshua Tree Riesling and Voodoo Child Chardonnay. “I just wanted to have some fun,” Anura tells me when I ask him the reasoning behind the labels. “After all, wine is meant to be fun, right?” Marketing Wine to Millennials
While it does seem fun, Claymore’s labels seem to fly in the face of traditional wine marketing, where the producer’s logo is consistent across all their wines and information such as varietal, origin and vintage is first and foremost. “It was a struggle early on because the inconsistent branding was deemed anti-marketing,” admits Claymore’s general manager, Carissa Major. “But once we explained the story, we had a more personal conversation with the customer. Now, people come to our cellar door, pick up a Bittersweet Symphony (Cab Sav) and say, ‘this is from my generation, I get it’. The labels were never meant to be a gimmick, they are the sound track to Anura’s life. But marketing-wise today, they present exciting opportunities rather than barriers.” Recent studies from California State University help explain the marketing swing. Researchers looked at the fastest growing buyer market in wine – millennials – people born after 1980, so termed because they hit maturity at the turn of the millennium. This generation is cashed up, brand savvy and, most importantly, they are on the verge of overtaking baby boomers as the biggest buyers of wine. The university study found that millennials prefer wine labels that are brightly coloured, less traditional, more graphically focused and feature creative brand names. If you’re a wine producer listening to a baby boomer marketer, maybe it’s time to think outside the box. The story of Fowles Wine’s Ladies Who Shoot Their Lunch is a great example. The label shows an art deco-style image of a lady in her finery out for a hunt. “My wife designs the labels and we actually took advice from a leading marketer about whether this was a good idea. Their response? No!,” explains Fowles Wines owner, Matt Fowles. “We ultimately disagreed and released the wines, but it was useful advice in the sense that it was liberating. We thought, if there is no place in the market for this, then we should just do the designs we really love, so we did. It was all a bit of fun and, surprise, surprise, they sell well.” Art for art’s sake
Riverland producer Delinquente Wine Co. has taken label art in an even more contemporary direction channelling a punk ethos on their wines such as The Bullet Dodger Montepulciano and the Screaming Betty Vermentino. “The starting point with the artwork for Delinquente was to do something very different to traditional wine labels, but also to represent things we have a passion for, like street art and alternative culture,’ says winemaker/owner Con-Greg Grigoriou. “The art represents our ideas and allows us to connect with people in an interesting way. We all know a ‘Screaming Betty’, or would at least like to party with her. So they have taken on a life of their own.” Not everyone is a fan. Seventy-nine-year-old wine critic James Halliday described Delinquente Wines as setting “the new low water-mark” for labels in Australia. But he likes their wines. And that’s the thing, the wine has to be good to get the buyer to keep coming back. These days, wine is fashion and bottle shop aisles are the catwalks. Marketing a label is just as important as the wine inside the bottle. Get both right and you could just make it. Traditionalists will most likely continue to stock their cellars with family crested bottles. The millennials crave new and exciting. As for me, I’ll see you on the dark side of the moon.
Food
Food and Wine Matching 101
Create inspiring food and wine matches Follow the helpful tips below to ensure that at your next dinner party you impress your guests with your pairing prowess. Acid + acid If your food is high in acid – think tomatoes or a squeeze of lemon – you’ll need a wine that’s high in acid too. Riesling is the most obvious white choice, while Italian style reds will balance tomatoes and cut through olive oil.  Same + same Brings together complementary flavours – light-bodied wine + light dish, full-bodied wine + heavy dish and so on. Also pair similar textures and flavours – earthy wine + earthy food, citrussy wine + fruity dish, etc.  Opposite + opposite Try a fresh, crisp Chardonnay with a creamy pasta dish, or consider a clean, dry Riesling with a spicy chilli-filled Asian dish. Or if you’re serving a dish with very simple flavours, a complex wine can enhance the experience. Heat + sweet For spicy dishes, red wines high in alcohol and tannins are a no-no as the alcohol intensifies the heat. Choose sweeter whites such as off-dry Gewürztraminers or Rieslings .   Sweet + sweeter If your dish is sweet, the wine should be sweeter. Think milk and dark chocolate desserts with Tawnies and Muscats , while white chocolate pairs with Prosecco and lemon flavours are perfect with Botrytis Riesling . Tannins + fat This pairing is all about balance. Fat serves to even out tannin intensity, resulting in a smoother, softer red.  Wine styles Try these suggestions to match with your favourite wine styles. Fuller bodied red wines Wines: Cabernet , Shiraz , Malbec , Durif Food matches: Their robust structure makes these an ideal partner to hard cheeses and fattier cuts of meat. Medium bodied red wines Wines: Merlot & Blends, Tempranillo , Barbera , Sangiovese Food matches: To match the moderate density tannins go for slow-cooked or rustic style dishes like pasta, Mediterranean fare, tapas. Lighter bodied red wines Wines: Pinot Noir , Grenache & blends, Nero d’Avola   Food matches: With the finer styles, go for gamey, earthy foods like duck, while styles with higher acidity can take richer, spicier dishes. Rosé Wines: Dry, off-dry Food matches: For drier styles, go for salads, charcuterie and antipasto. For off-dry styles, try spicy food or fruit-based dishes. Fuller-bodied white wines Wines: Chardonnay , Verdelho , Viognier Food matches: A richer texture makes these fuller varieties a great match for poultry, pork, rich seafood, cream or cheese-based pastas. Medium-bodied white wines Wines: Arneis , Pinot G , Fiano , Vermentino , Marsanne Food matches: Zesty acidity makes these styles perfect with lighter flavours like tapas, pasta and salads. Lighter-bodied and aromatic white wines Wines: Sauvignon Blanc & blends, Semillon , Riesling , Gewürztraminer Food matches: The high acidity inherent in these varieties makes them ideal for fried food, raw seafood, delicate Asian dishes, and simple Mediterranean food. Champagne, Sparkling and Prosecco Wines: Champagne , Sparkling & Prosecco Food matches: With the richer styles, choose seafood and richer canapés, while lighter styles suit antipasto, fried foods and fresh fruit. Dessert and Fortified wines Wines: Botrytis , Tawny , Muscat/Topaque  Food matches: Botrytis: Cream or fruit-based desserts, pâté. Tawny: Cheddar & blue cheese, dried & fresh fruit, nuts. Topaque: Caramel-based desserts. Muscat: Chocolate-based desserts, dates & dried figs, ice cream.
Two Blues Sauvignon Blanc 2014
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