Phil Reedman MW, Chief Judge for the 46th (successive) Riverland Wine Show spoke with eloquence and passion about the region, the inland wines appraised, the future of the industry and the need for belief and pride in our winegrowing and winemaking.
New to the role of Chief Judge this year, he had high praise for many of the 250 inland wines judged. Philip is one of only 368 Masters of Wine in the world and is globally recognised as a leading wine expert. He started his career in wine in 1982, working as a sommelier at a local restaurant in Long Eaton, Nottingham, England, near where he grew up before joining a Nottingham wine merchant as a trainee. He worked a series of vintages in France, then came to South Australia and worked in the Barossa Valley for Saltram in 1987 and Taylors making port in the 1988 vintage before returning to the UK as a pioneering importer and retailer of Australian wines.
He began a period of intense study and wine education and won several scholarships: one to Burgundy and one to Portugal. In 1996 he passed the coveted Master of Wine examinations. In 1998 Tesco, one of Britain’s largest supermarket chains headhunted him to begin sourcing and selecting wines from Australia and New Zealand for their extensive UK network. It was during this time he first visited this region and recognised the true value of inland wines.
He had high praise for his two panels of young judges singling out the two panel chairs Lucy Clements and Phil Lehmann but also acknowledging the great talent and commitment of Sandrine Gimon, Teresa Heuzenroeder, Ben Thoman and Peter Rattray. He also thanked associate judges John McGovern and Duncan Hamm and the volunteers who provided great service over the two days of judging.
Extracts from several of the judges’ comments:
Class 3 – 2018 Current Vintage Dry White Table Wines – Chardonnay and Chardonnay Predominant Blends: “A strong field and an evident strength of the region”
Class 5 – 2018 Current Vintage Dry White Table Wines – Other White Varietals: “Many really exciting varieties evidently revelling in the warm climates yet retaining delicacy while embracing power and richness”.
Class 14 – 2017 and Older Vintages Dry Red Table Wines – Other Red Varietals: “Some wonderful wines by any measure; results reflect the excitement seen. Varieties evidently suit the terroirs and show a clear future direction for the regions. More like this please”.
Class 33 – 2017 and Older Vintages Dry Red Table Wines – Shiraz: “An exciting and inspiring class to judge. Shows the benefits of considered blending”.
Full details are available on the Riverland Wine Show website (www.riverlandwineshow.com.au/).
The Riverland in transition
The Riverland Wine Show Committee Chair, Chris Byrne, spoke of the committee’s vision for the region, noted for its precision and reliability, to transition to a region that responds to market demand and can adapt quickly and competitively to the changing preferences of global wine consumers.
He noted the region’s natural attributes: it’s ideal climate, soils, water and low levels of pest and disease that have enabled the region to produce world’s best citrus, summer fruits, nuts and grains since the late 1800s and more recently, the range of outstanding wines presented in the 2018 Wine Show. He added, the Riverland community’s primary producers provide the x-factor that has enabled this region to be the wind beneath the wings of the Australian wine industry.
He urged the 120 believers in the room to spread the word, to be proud of what the region has achieved but also proud of its wider contribution to the community and the broader economy. He spoke of the transition from being the region of sheer hard work, to being the region at the forefront of industry research, development and extension. He foreshadowed that several major projects, planned in partnership with Wine Australia, the University of Adelaide and PIRSA in the fields of Vineyard Optimisation, Virtual Reality, Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning and Robotics, will enable the region’s wine industry to maintain its position of prominence as a leader and innovator.