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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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Know Your Variety - Australian Malbec
Neglected for decades in France as a lesser blending grape, Malbec was resurrected and championed in Argentina as an excellent single varietal wine. It's now having a similar resurgence in Australia, with some excellent Australian Malbec wines appearing in the  Clare Valley ,  Langhorne Creek ,  Margaret River  and  Great Southern . To help us learn more about this plush and fruit driven red wine, we reached out to a few Australian Malbec experts with winemakers from  Forest Hill Wines ,  Bremerton  and Tamburlaine Organic Wines. AUSTRALIAN MALBEC AT A GLANCE THE VARIED ORIGINS OF MALBEC
Malbec (sometimes known as Côt and Auxxerois) originates from the French wine regions of  Bordeaux and Sud-Ouest . However, it was historically viewed as more a blending grape and played second fiddle to the prized Cabernet Sauvignon , Merlot and Grenache vines in those regions. Malbec found its new home in Argentina, where it has been adapted and refined into an excellent single varietal wine style, with excellent examples from the Mendoza region. Today, 75% of the world's Malbec now hails from Argentina, often blended with a touch of Touriga Nacional. MALBEC COMES TO AUSTRALIA
Rebecca Willson , winemaker at Bremerton Wines, argues that Malbec has a spiritual home in South Australia as it "was the first dry red variety ever planted in  Langhorne Creek  by The Potts Family of Bleasdale in the late 1800s". In fact, Bleasdale's first ever single varietal wine was a Malbec in 1961. However, the great red vine cull in the 1970s and 1980s removed many alternate varieties from vineyards across the country. The recent trend of wine lovers searching for new and exciting wine styles to try, has given rise to a modern resurgence. Malbec is now the wine of the moment. Rebecca thinks this is because "the variety offers an alternative to  Shiraz  as our biggest consumed red varietal, it's berry driven and plush." Malbec can be a difficult grape to grow, but today with better viticulture and better strains of the variety, it's thriving in moderate climates such as the Clare Valley, Langhorne Creek, Margaret River and Great Southern. Tamburlaine Organic Wines chief winemaker,  Mark Davidson , notes that "just like in Argentina, the real lesson has been that the wine produced at higher altitudes of 800m to 1000m has really shone". As such, there is great promise for award winning Malbec from emerging cool climate regions such as Canberra or Orange, where  Tamburlaine's excellent Malbec  is sourced. TASTING NOTES With a similar weight to  Shiraz ,  Cabernet Sauvignon  or  Petit Verdot , Malbec has a big, juicy and plush flavour with a robust structure and moderately firm tannins. It has distinctive dark purple colour and notes of red plum, blueberry, vanilla, cocoa and an essence of sweet tobacco. Forest Hill Wines chief winemaker,  Liam Carmody , is rather fond of the "intense purple colour and fruit brightness" of  their Malbec  and notes that it has a "generally softer tannin structure than some other red grape varieties." For Bremerton's Rebecca Willson it's the "violet, currant purple fruits with velvety tannins, plushness and purity" of the variety. MALBEC AND FOOD PAIRING
The bold flavours, robust structure and higher tannins of Malbec call for dishes with a bold flavour to match such as hard cheese, steak or even sausage such as this  chickpea and chorizo hotpot recipe by Miguel Maestre.  Our  Argentinian beef steak with chimichurri sauce recipe  is also a great way to round out an Argentinian themed dinner. Or for a vegetarian option, our spinach and cheese empanadas recipe matches well to a  plush Malbec from Great Southern  . When it comes to Malbec food matches, Bremerton's Rebecca Willson prefers "charcoal barbecue of a great cut from your local butcher, or pulled pork sliders". For Forest Hill Wines' Liam Carmody, Australian Malbec means just one dish, "a rare steak sandwich!" Recommended Recipe:  Miguel Maestre's chickpea and chorizo hotpot TRY AUSTRALIAN MALBEC TODAY Explore Australian Malbec with these great examples that have all passed our rigorous Tasting Panel selection process with flying colours.
Two Blues Sauvignon Blanc 2014
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