Thursday, January 8, 2015

International Wine Challenge Results

The press release which follows is interesting. It’s clear that Helen Kenny wasn’t around in the early 1990s. Australia went through a golden period at that time, winning more medals (including gold) than France, with less than half the number of entries. The success strike rate of Australia and France isn’t specified, and I’m trying to chase that up. - JH

Australia threatens France's winemaking crown, winning equal number of Gold medals at Tranche One of the International Wine Challenge


  • 26 Australian wines awarded a Gold medal at Tranche One of IWC 2015, equaling France’s Gold medal score
  • 203 Australian wines awarded medals at Tranche One of the International Wine Challenge 2015
  • Australia closes gap on France, picking up equal number of Gold medals
  • Australian Dessert Semillon created exclusively for Tesco finest* range strikes Gold
  • The International Wine Challenge judges also awarded 71 Silver medals and 106 Bronze medals to Australian wines during its first round of tasting in November.
  • De Bortoli Wines, which operates three wineries across Australia, received three Gold medals. The company, which is recognised as a Sustainability Advantage Gold Partner by the New South Wales Government Office of Environment and Heritage for its sustainable agricultural approach, received a Gold medal for its Yarra Valley Estate Grown Pinot Noir 2013, as well as for two of its sweet wines.
  • Its Deen Vat Series No 5 Botrytis Semillon 2009 and its Dessert Semillon 2009, created exclusively for the Tesco finest* range, were both awarded Gold medals by the IWC judges.
  • Morris Wines, which received the IWC Champion Fortified Wine Trophy earlier this year, continued its success at this round of the 2015 competition winning three Gold medals. Two of its non-vintage Muscats, the Morris Cellar One Classic Liqueur Muscat and the Morris Old Premium Rare Liqueur Muscat struck Gold, as did the Morris Old Premium Rare Liqueur Topaque NV.
  • Winemakers Amelia Park Wines and Domaine Naturaliste each received a pair of Gold medals. Amelia Park Cabernet Merlot 2012 and its 2012 Reserve Shiraz were both awarded with Gold medals, while Gold medals also went to Domaine Naturaliste Sauvage Sauvignon Blanc Semillon 2013 and Domanine Naturaliste Artus 2013.
  • Montalto “Estate” Chadonnay 2013 and Montalto “Estate” Pinot Noir 2013 racked up two Gold medals for the South Victoria-based Montalto Vineyard.
  • This year is the second year the International Wine Challenge has split its competition into two separate tastings to accommodate the different production and sales schedules across the industry, and give winemakers greater flexibility over when to enter their wines.
  • Tranche One of the IWC 2015 competition was held last month, and Tranche Two will be hosted in April 2015, with the results being announced in May.
Australian winemakers showed star quality at Tranche One of the International Wine Challenge 2015, scooping a total of 203 medals. In a competition first, Australia also matched France’s Gold medal score of 26, although France still topped the total medals chart.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Northeast v West Victoria Wine Challenge

For the past two years I have been one of the judges for the Northeast v West Victoria wine competition. It’s a relatively low key affair, but very enjoyable because of the interaction between the judges and the 30 or so people attending the event at Union Dining.

This year the event was held in late November, and the preference ranking for the wines in the four classes were completely at odds with each other; it may seem strange, but this is the best possible outcome for the event – every winery gets to take home some good news.


1.       2010 Mt Langi Ghiran Blanc de Blanc

2.       2012 Seppelt Original Sparkling Shiraz 

3.       2010 Michelini Chardonnay Cuvee
3.       2006 Anderson Sparkling Shiraz

1.       2006 Anderson Sparkling Shiraz

2.       2010 Michelini Chardonnay Cuvee

3.       2010 Mt Langi Ghiran Blanc de Blanc

4.       2012 Seppelt Original Sparkling Shiraz


1.       2011 John Gehrig RG Riesling

2.       2014 Seppelt Drumborg Riesling

3.       2014 Bests Riesling

4.       2013 John Gehrig Riesling

1.       2014 Seppelt Drumborg Riesling

2.       2011 John Gehrig RG Riesling

3.       2014 Bests Riesling

4.       2013 John Gehrig Riesling


1.       2013 Dog Rock Shiraz

2.       2012 Baileys of Glenrowan Shiraz

3.       2013 Brokenwood Indigo Vineyard Shiraz

4.       2013 Mt Langi Ghiran Cliff Edge Shiraz

1.       2013 Brokenwood Indigo Vineyard Shiraz

2.       2013 Dog Rock Shiraz

3.       2013 Mt Langi Ghiran Cliff Edge Shiraz

4.       2012 Baileys of Glenrowan Shiraz

Other Red

1.       2012 Pyren Yardbird Union (Cab Sauv/Cab Franc/Malbec/PV)

2.       2013 Eldorado Road Nero D’Avola

3.       2012 A Rodda Cuvee de Chez (Cab Sauv/Merlot/Malbec/PV)

1.       2012 A Rodda Cuvee de Chez

2.       2013 Eldorado Road Nero D’Avola

3.       2012 Pyren Yardbird Union 

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Margaret River Gourmet Escape

I attended the Margaret River Gourmet Escape held on 20-23 November; the press release that follows gives some idea of the magnitude of the event, which was incredibly well organised given the multiple activities going on up and down the region. For much of the time I was based at Leeuwin Estate doing masterclasses, so was in the centre of the village activity that attracted over 13 000 people over the three days. It was striking how very few of those attending showed any signs of being even mildly intoxicated. I guess the large number of children trailing in the wake of parents and friends acted as a natural break. - JH

The 2014 Margaret River Gourmet Escape, presented by Siemens home appliances, saw 21,917 tickets sold – more than double the number of the first Gourmet Escape in 2012 and cementing the event as a must attend for food and wine enthusiasts the world over.
8,288 people attended the 20 satellite events set in picturesque and unique locations including forests, beaches and wineries where 49 international and Australian chefs, food and wine experts engaged with audiences and showcased quintessential produce and wine from the South West.

13,629 food and wine lovers soaked up the vibe of the Gourmet Village at Leeuwin Estate where they sampled and sipped their way around Margaret River and greater WA through the 170 exhibitors and restaurants showcasing their wares.

“Each year we aim to up the ante and deliver a truly unique and exceptional program of events which have evolved as well as the creation of new ideas to ensure we are properly representing the region and all it has to offer to international, interstate and local audiences,” says Margaret River Gourmet Escape Event Director, Naomi Wilson.

“This year we pulled out all stops to create a massive weekend for lovers of food, wine, music and fun which is evident from the new additions to the program including Matt Preston and A.A. Gill playing quizmaster at the Gourmet Food Trivia Night; sundown wine tastings and DJs on the beachfront at Sunset Beats and Bites and the high end International Cabernet Celebration at Cape Mentelle, to name a few. We also saw an exciting fusion of local and native ingredients with an international twist. Unique dishes on the menus included:  

  • Saltwater crocodile, fermented mangrove seeds, black ant (Jock Zonfrillo at Land to Vine)
  • Kangaroo tartare, sandalwood miso, ants and sea herbs (Matt Stone at Farm, Forage, Graze)
  • Poached West Australian marron, cauliflower cous cous, finger lime, vas el hanout broth (Clare Smyth at Michelin Greats at Voyager Estate)
  • Pan seared sea scallops in red curry sauce (Sam Leong at East Meets West)
  • Botrytis Cinerea dessert dish incorporating 66 ingredients (Heston Blumenthal & Jonny Lake at Michelin Greats at Voyager Estate)
 “Similarly we incorporated new interactive features at the Gourmet Village such as the Regional Pavilions, a new wine attraction and food photography classes, which undoubtedly contributed to its huge success and large visitation – much to the delight of visitor, exhibitors, sponsors and celebrities in attendance such as Layne Beachley, Kirk Pengilly, Adam Garcia and Simon Le Bon.”

“What makes Margaret River Gourmet Escape different from any other food and wine festival on the planet is not only the ability to showcase the region’s offerings in breathtaking remarkable locations but also the genuine enthusiasm from the participating chefs, food and wine experts which is integral in promoting the Margaret River Wine Region to a local and global market,” says Wilson.
To this end, accolades from participating chefs have started pouring in:
“Everything’s laid on. It’s just an absolutely brilliant event from the village to amazing dinners with some of the best chefs in the world. You know there’s very few things that you can go to like that,” says Clare Smyth, Chef at Restaurant Gordon Ramsey, UK.

Similarly Australia’s own acclaimed chef and restaurateur, Jacques Reymond has nothing but compliments for the event saying, “Margaret River Gourmet Escape is one of the best events in the country. I’m very emotional to be here because it’s a wonderful part of Australia. It’s so remote but once you get here you feel at home, and it’s wonderful.”

Margaret River Gourmet Escape aims to deliver a program unlike any other which incorporates a lauded international and local line up of food and wine talent, this year including the likes of Heston Blumenthal, Massimo Bottura, Rick Stein and Peter Gilmore. Margaret River Gourmet Escape also attracts significant national and international media exposure with journalists from the UK, Germany, Singapore, New Zealand, China, USA and Indonesia attending the event.
Last month, the West Australian State Government announced continued funding for the event until at least 2017.

The next Margaret River Gourmet Escape will take place from 20 – 22 November 2015.
For event information: