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Wine medals…what do they really mean?

When choosing a wine do you find yourself looking at the medals? Ever wondered what they mean? You could be in for a surprise. While there are certainly some world class events that are worthy of their status, many are as useful as a cat at a dog show.

Here’s an example. Shingleback, Davy Brothers 2012 Shiraz. At a first glance, the wine is from McLaren Vale in South Australia. I’m pretty sure that up until now, I’ve never had a bad wine from McLaren Vale. It’s one of those trusty regions, with trustworthy winemakers, in essence, you could look at a wine list, select a McLaren Vale wine and be confident it would be a crowd pleaser. Shingleback Davey Brothers 2012 Shiraz from McLaren Vale Wines

The fact that it had four shiny gold medals on it made it even more attractive. Couldn’t possibly go wrong. So I thought. Fair enough, it’s not an aged wine and I certainly wasn’t expecting anything over the top. I was expecting something reasonably drinkable, though. So the researcher in me decided to investigate those shiny gold medals. By the way, it’s never been a criteria for selection for me.

The first one: “WINESTATE 2014 BEST VALUE WINE OF AUSTRALIA (UNDER $20)” – Winestate Magazine is a publication that relies on advertisers for revenue. Interestingly that a quick glance of winners excludes trusted favourites. Could it be that contenders would have to be advertisers to qualify? I don’t know. (www.winestate.com.au) Personally, I would rate ALDI home brand wine ($3 a bottle) as the best value wine. It’s great.

The second one: “CWSA BEST WINE DOUBLE GOLD MEDAL 2014 HONG KONG” – The China Wine & Spirit Awards are calling for entries now. So unless you purposefully enter your wine, you don’t stand a chance. Do you think it could be possible that a winemaker wanting to export to China would receive great benefit by entering? A quick look at the website reveals there are hundreds maybe thousands of winners every year. Pretty hard not get one I would think. (www.cwsa.org)

The third one: “NZ INTERNATIONAL WINE SHOW GOLD MEDAL 2014 CLASS18A” – From 2,100 entries for the 2015 awards only 1,517 entries scored a medal. Again, a really tough competition…or not. The website lists plenty of sponsors and the fees required to enter. It would be a shame to pay money and not get a medal. Especially in class 18b whatever that is. (www.nziws.co.nz)

The fourth one: “DECANTER ASIA WINE AWARDS GOLD MEDAL 2014 HONG KONG” – This one is a bit tougher as only 488 wines from Australia featured in the 2014 medals. Again this seems as a pay-to-play awards system. (www.decanter.com) I’m guessing once again that if you were to export to the Asian market then it would be good to have a gold medal on the label.

So, it’s a wine that presents with shiny gold labels on it. Unfortunately, it doesn’t match my expectations. McLaren Vale – normally a big tick. Shingleback – my first experience. Davey Brothers – also my first experience (duh). Overall? Won’t be buying it again.

I’m sure the wine should be better than what I tasted with all those gold medals and a James Halliday Wine Companion rating of 94.
For me, I would suggest there are plenty of other reliable daily drinkers out there. Oh, and the Aldi Shiraz? At around $3 a bottle, it scored an impressive 95. Looks like I’m off to the local Aldi for the weekly shopping (except Queensland) at a more affordable price. I think they have food there as well.