2008 Aus/NZ Organic Wine Show


Despite attracting fewer entries than last year (due to stricter entry requirements, ensuring that all stages of production, from vineyard to winery to bottling are certified organic), we still managed to sniff, swirl and slurp our way through 100 glasses, making the Australian and New Zealand Organic Wine Show still the biggest comparative tasting of certified and in-conversion organic and biodynamic wines in the country.

Although overall numbers were down, a few new producers did decide to enter with the show, which is great: it’s always encouraging to come across yet more vineyards converting to truly sustainable viticultural practices. This year’s winners reflect the full spectrum of organic producers, too, from the new and very obscure – vineyards producing only a few dozen cases of each wine - to the established and well-known – large wineries producing many thousands of cases a year; from ultra-premium wines costing $50 or more a bottle to bargain quaffing wines costing closer to $10.

The rieslings were a strong group this year – the sauvignon blancs less impressive. Chardonnays were solid with a couple of standouts (Millton and Thistle Hill). But the most excitement came with the ‘other white’ varieties: The Millton Vineyard’s gorgeous, honeyed 2007 chenin blanc fully deserving its gold medal. The pink wines were disappointing, pinot noir yielded a couple of nice wines, and the best reds were to be found among the cabernets and shirazes.

Margaret River’s Random Valley vineyard was clearly the standout estate this year, with all four entries going home with medals: the trophies for Best Red Wine and Wine of Show went to Random Valley’s intense, vibrant 2007 Shiraz, a gold medal went to the 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon, and bronzes to the 2006 vintages of the same two varietals.

The Best White Trophy went to the complex, textural 2007 Yalumba Organic Viognier....resounding proof that organic and biodynamic viticulture can be practised on a large, commercial scale. And the Best Preservative Free Wine award went to the plummy, lively 2007 Wildstone Merlot from the up-and-coming Fergusson Valley, near Bunbury in WA – showing, like last year’s winner of the same award, the Settlers Ridge sangiovese, that it is possible to make delicious wines without using preservatives.

-------Max Allen is an award-winning wine writer; his online guide to biodynamics in Australian vineyards is www.redwhiteandgreen.com.au

The Organic Wine Show is dedicated to the judging and promotion of certified organic wines from Australia and New Zealand. Held alongside the 2008 Organic Expo, it showcased the diversity, regionality, originality and quality of organic wines. The show attracted 31 certified and in-conversion organic and bio-dynamic vineyards entering a total of 101 wines. www.organicexpo.com.au