News Events & Galleries


Share this event
Written by:
29 Jan 2018
Australia Wine Stars Awards 2018
Our Managing Director, Dean Harper recently judged at the Harpers Wine Stars Awards and found Australia in rude health, delivering a bumper crop of accolades across both traditional and modern styles.
You can find out more about the awards in Andrew Catchpole's report in Harpers below.

Report by Andrew Catchpole for 
The UK’s biggest wine category is popular for a reason and that reason remains rooted in the avour-laden bang for your buck that Shiraz and Chardonnay can deliver, albeit in a more modern framework than of old.
This was the message delivered by our judges at Harpers’ recent Wine Stars Awards Australia session, with buyers from various sectors revealing that the market remains strong for Aussie classics with generous fruit and full-bodied appeal, with modern interpreta- tions of such wines still popular with consumers.
While the judges unanimously praised many of the newer wave of artisanal wines and more o -piste grape varieties, agreeing that such styles are generat- ing interest and excitement among trade and writers, “the level of the noise being generated is at odds with the commercial reality” – which is that most consum- ers want to remain within their comfort zone.
And for most, this means wines that fully express their Australian personality, with perhaps just a little more freshness and polish than the rugged blockbust- ers that originally put Australia on the vinous map.
The judges also cautioned against “stripping out too much Aussie character”, referring to the recent trend for producers to pick early and deliver lean, sometimes under-ripe Chardonnay and Shiraz.
“We still see a good cross-section of styles selling. People are trying the newer, fresher, brighter styles and varieties, but we have a very solid market for traditionally made Aussie classics,” said Noel Young of Noel Young Wines.
“Shiraz never went away,” added John Hoskins MW of the Old Bridge Inn. “There are still customers out there who like big, rich wines. Some Shiraz and Shiraz blends have toned it down a little, which suits the [Australian] domestic market, but actually a lot of people like those bigger styles,” he said.

Harpers Wine Stars Awards are markedly different from the run of the mill, being judged by buyers for buyers, taking blind-assessed quality as the starting point, but then adding two further layers for consideration, with additional rounds of judging assessing the wines for value for money and then design and packaging.
As such, these awards are like no other, taking an holistic approach, considering all of the factors that in uence buying decisions, including elements of appeal to the nal wine-buying consumer.

All wines were tasted blind, aside from knowledge of the region of origin and grape variety, and assigned a score by each judge based on quality alone.
Following the quality assessment of the wines in each regional ight, prices were then revealed and judges gave additional marks based on the perceived quality- to-value ratio.
The labels of all wines were then revealed, with additional marks given for the overall packaging and design of each wine, with judges also appraised of the intended sales channel(s) – and thus packaging suitability – for each wine.

Similarly, Young said of Chardonnay: “What we haven’t seen is a huge shift to modern styles of Aussie Chardonnay – the leaner styles. People are looking for a bit more esh on the bone – not going back to the old days of massive buttery oak, but wherever we find a reasonably priced Chardonnay with a bit of fruit and oak we sell loads of it.”
Michael Patterson of D&D Restaurants o ered a possible explanation for the continuing popularity of the more traditional mainstream varieties.
the moment customers want the well-established styles from Australia,” he said, with reference to Australian sales across the group.
However, with high star ratings awarded for both traditional and newer varieties and styles, the judges agreed that overall a shift to fresher, more poised wines had upped the ante in terms of food compatibility in general with Australia’s offer.
And grapes including Pinot Noir and Vermentino, along with a wider slew of Italian and Spanish varieties, were singled out as exciting and successful additions to the traditional mainstream quality players.

From Dean's Point of View:
Australia is still a very important country, die-hard fans who know what they like can buy traditional styles with confidence. In the sub-£10 price range decent Shiraz/Cab and Semillon/Sauvignon are still worth buying. But for our money, the sweet spot is £10-16 and when you search around a little - you have got young winemakers doing interesting things, but you do have to look.

Comments There are currently no comments for this article. You can add a comment below.
Leave comment
 Security code