My daughter gave me a guide to wine buying for Christmas. The most interesting information in it was a description of the scoring system for wine judging. Because I had only experiences bronze, silver and gold medals for sport as the rewards for the first three highest scores, I though that a wine that was awarded one of these medals in a competition was one of the three best in the competition.
The guide explained that each wine in a competition is only judged against a standardised points schedule, to get a score out of 100. Therefore, it is quite common for several wines in the same competition to be awarded the same coloured medal. There's no "best" in the general judging, but I suppose there must be some "best in show" awards.
This "points out of 100" method seem very egalitarian to me. It means that a vigneron who only produces a small quantity of wine can stand up with the big producers. I also like the idea that now I can go to buy wine, and if the label indicates that the wine has been awarded one of the three possible coloured medals, then I have a recommendation from an expert of the quality and adherence to type of the wine. That's good consumer info for people who don't want to get involved in the intricacies of wine tasting.
I reckon the guff and stuff on the label that claims the wine has "a taste of blackberries heightened by a hint of cinnamon" is for wankers. All I want from a wine is not to have the back of my throat burnt out by tannins, nor something so sweet it turns my eyes inwards.
Don't keep most "whites" very long, and only keep "other" wines that benefit from it. You will find that quite a few become spoiled after only say 4 years. You have to anticipate losses unless you wouldn't know the difference and will drink anything.
I said GOOD wine ( not necessarily "expensive " wines.) If you want a cork it does cost about 70 cents for it .Are you prepared to pay that extra?.. More than the actual cost of the contents in a lot of cases. Many cheap wines are inclusive of some pretty rough stuff that is blended to make it saleable.. This was often marketed with an "in house " label in restaurants. Some make it from Pressings. the red colour comes from the skins.. Some would buy it in bulk and bottle it themselves.. Groups can probably do this even today, if they get organized. You can sample it and make the decision for yourself. . Note I'm NOT against "blended" wines. I'd prefer to have some Cabinet blended with something to smooth it a bit, sometimes.. Shiraz ( called internationally Syra and sometimes Hermitage) is a good Australian grown red that we do fairly well, to excellent , if you want something of that style. (a "proper" red sort off) and Australia does a fair bit of it except some areas are now getting too hot, but it's not successful in some colder places either where Pinot does better.( they are not really equivalent).. Durif is a sort of "ancestor" of Shiraz. A few vineyards in the NE of Victoria do Durif in small amounts. for the wine buffs. It's interesting..
A Crook winemaker can spoil good grapes, but no winemaker can make good wine out of crook grapes...
PS I didn't make up the Landrover bit. It's out there and I know some of you blokes love your Landy's,. but life's tough. Ultralights aren't appreciated by everybody. Just drink to it. (the enlightenment). Nev
So is a Rolls Royce should be cheaper than a Holden sometimes? They are both cars with four wheels. Sounds fair enough, eh! Not really.
The wine tastings are done "blind" the samples are not identifiable to the judges. The same top company wines consistently get good ratings, good prices and market well. The Industry awards BEST winery etc and it's generally done accurately. It's done overseas as well.
Sometimes there are bad Years where the quality (and quantity) in the area is down, generally.. Too much rain late frosts, rain followed by overcast days (mildew) and consecutive days of heat, Bird attack near harvest time, Grapes picked before they are ripe because the birds are about.
There are other variables, including Uneven ripening due bad management, Poor spray technique Pruning technique etc and the GOOD quality tonnage is lowered . Some slightly ordinary stuff might go into some not the BEST Blends to cover the shortage and. the bad stuff gets lower prices but still sells as the total is down. These are "not good years " on the wine calendar.
. Sometimes there is a widespread bumper crop and the wineries cannot handle the extra and the worst of it's picked on the ground if it can be organized that way, or sold to make spirits (distilled).at prices below cost of production. or goes to the BOX trade. You have to look after your vineyard so you can't just leave the grapes to rot. There's a vast difference between a well managed vineyard and a so so one, all the way through from rootstock type, trellis design/orientation weed management spraying technique. soil analysis PH control, mineral supplements/ fertilisers, foliar sprays. Water table management soil moisture, drainage /irrigation bird netting. and so on. In hot areas it's picked (mechanically) during the night usually employing about 8 people to one harvester and two tractors moving bins all done under lights, to get the crop to the winery in best condition on semi's straight away. Everyone's covered in grapejuice and spiders at the end of the night. Sticky and tired out You have to be ready, repaired, cleaned fueled, greased and checked and ready to go by 2000 that day for the next night's effort . One night I got 78 tons off. That would make about 62,000 bottles of wine It cost the Winery about $2.40/bottle on Year 1997 to do their part of the business. Stuff going overseas is invoiced at about 68% of what you would get here. I guess that's to try to get the market penetration, But "they" get it cheaper than we do. .Nev
You have to work out what category the award was given under, and just where the place was it happened. It could be Black Stump "Rough Barby Red". Class 9 group z. Some of that stuff is just label enhancing baubles. Fools are easily fooled..
Penfolds got the award for best winemaker the year before last. Deservedly so by most who follow these things If you drink mainly to get plastered (merry or off your brain) just get the chateau cardboard.at a discount. or buy ethanol and add syrup to it. and book your liver transplant.. A few are marketing such products. often marketed as GIN. Gin is usually flavoured with juniper berries.
Good wineries " Culture " their OWN yeasts, that's how particular they are. Some home winemakers particularly from Eastern Europe, use the "wild" yeasts (The bloom on the berries) but the result can be variable. That is usually called Grappa... Nev . Drink less of better..Less hangovers.
It is always important to consider where medals are from and what they are for and indeed whether or not they are actually medals. I bought this bottle along with some other better bottles whilst in New Zealand. I was so amused by the endorsements on this bottle so I bought it as more of a talking point. Just for the record the endorsement of readers digest is not necessarily a good thing.
Too plurry right, Octave. An uncle gave my parents a lifetime subscription to RD. Being an insatiable reader, these magazines and associated books were an important part of my upbringing.
Long afterwards, as more sources of info became available, I realised how much I'd been lied to by this American publication.