Winemakers put their best drops forward

August 4, 2023 BY

The nose that knows: Heathcote Wine Show chair of judges Justin Purser in action. Photo: BARBARA SUNGAILA

THE recent 2023 Heathcote Wine Show gave winemakers the chance to benchmark their vintages against the region’s finest offerings.

Best Shiraz went to the Conforti 2021 Shiraz and Best Other Wine, which also took Wine of Show, was the St Anne’s 2022 grenache.

The Heathcote Wine of Provenance trophy, which is for wines that demonstrate consistency over 10 years, went to Sanguine Estate for their Inception Shiraz 2021, 2018 and 2012.

Heathcote Winegrowers Association president Ian Hopkins said the show had attracted a large number of competitors.

“We had 225 entries which we’re pretty happy with,” he said. “One of the positives this year was that the white wine class is up.

“The wine show’s open to only wines produced from fruit grown in Heathcote, the wineries don’t necessarily have to be Heathcote based but the wines must be made from Heathcote fruit.

“We had a number of first-time trophy winners too, so to see them get the major trophies is a very good indication of the quality across the breadth of the region.”

For many wine drinkers Heathcote is synonymous with Shiraz, but the region also produces a range of other grapes, including Grenache and Mouverde which are both classed as Rhone varietals.

“Grenache is the most common Rhone variety,” Mr Hopkins said. “Then Mouverde, and also Shiraz.

“Because Heathcote as a region, with its warm days and cool nights, is good for Shiraz, it’s also good for other Rhone varietals.”

Six judges working in two panels of three, along with two associate judges, worked their way through the entries.

“The judges are all high-profile winemakers or industry people,” Mr Hopkins said.

“This year they’re from Victoria and South Australia, with one associate judge from New South Wales.

“It’s Justin Purser’s first year as chair of judges, he’s the winemaker at Stonier on the Mornington Peninsula.

“Previously he was at Bests in the Grampians, and he is very experienced as a senior wine show judge.

“This year, for the first time and on Justin’s initiative, we had a master class on Wednesday night where we compared a number of Rhone blends from different wine regions.

“What we are seeking to do with the wine show is give Heathcote winemakers the opportunity to see where their wines sit in the scheme of things and hopefully engage in continual improvement.”