Wine Judging – A Real Lip Peeler
"Once, I had to taste so many wines at a show, the tannins reacted with the proteins in my mouth and my lips peeled," was how Judging chairman Chris Pfeiffer described wine judging. Let’s hope his lips survive the 4,389 entries that are in this year's Royal Melbourne Wine Show, conducted by the Royal Agricultural Society of Victoria. Apparently Australia’s largest wine show The Royal Melbourne Wine Show is home to Australia’s most sought after wine award - the Jimmy Watson Memorial Trophy. The award was established in 1962 by friends of the late Jimmy Watson as a recognition of his services to the advancement of the Australian wine industry. Funding of the trophy was achieved through public donations made to Jimmy Watson's Wine Bar in Lygon Street, Carlton, Victoria.
The trophy is awarded to the Best Red Beverage Wine of the Vintage Year prior to the Current Vintage Year (i.e. a one year old dry red wine). The 2004 winner was the Premium [yellow tail]® Cabernet Sauvignon 2003. Saltram’s 2002 "The Eighth Maker" Shiraz won in 2003. The 2002 Jimmy Watson Trophy Winner was the 2001 Rosemount Estate Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot Petit Verdot or Rosemount Estate Traditional. Pepper Tree’s 2000 Grand Reserve Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon won in 2001. Pepper Tree claims this as the first for a winery in the Hunter Valley of New South Wales. This is somewhat disingenuous as the fruit came from South Australia's Coonawarra. A quick check shows that NSW has won the award twice before. Once in 1981 for Lindemans Wines 1980 Dry Red Claret and again in 1986 when Lindemans Wines again scored with their 1985 Coonawarra Premium Claret Blend. Since 2000 wines from the Coonawarra have won the trophy 12 times and have been a part of the regional blend of two winners. But the big winner has been South Australia with 29 wins. Victoria has claimed the trophy six times while New South Wales and Western Australia have won twice.
The varietal make-up of the winning wines is a little harder to pin down as up until 1984 most wines were simply described as Claret or Burgundy. A Shiraz has won the trophy on at least 10 occasions.