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Sunday, 20 September 2020

Why you can't believe everything you read about wine

There is an awful lot of nonsense written about wine in the mainstream media.

The latest came today in the The Daily Mail online, which breathlessly exclaimed: "A $23.99 bottle of shiraz has been crowned the best red wine in Australia after beating more than 400 rivals at a prestigious awards show."

The Mail, which usually concentrates its efforts on soap stars and celebs many of us have never heard of, was excited that The Cat Amongst the Pigeons Fat Cat Barossa Shiraz 2018 took home three awards, including Most Outstanding Barossa Wine. 

It was was also named Best Shiraz and the Most Outstanding Barossa Red Table Wine. 

So this wine beat Penfolds Grange, Henschke Hill of Grace and Yalumba The Caley? Well, no, because wines of that calibre and price point are rarely entered in shows.

The Cat Amongst the Pigeons Fat Cat Barossa Shiraz 2018 is sold exclusively through selected BWS and Dan Murphy's stores from $23.99. Which almost certainly makes it a bargain. Chief judge Nick Ryan was certainly enthused.


Wines entered in this show must be made in the Barossa from a minimum of 95% Barossa grapes. Wines from every other region in Australia were not eligible to enter. No Margaret River or Coonawarra cabernet, no Tasmanian pinot.

The judges, too, in this Covid-19 year, were all South Australians.

I have no doubt the winning wine offers excellent value - but to proclaim the winner of one regional show "the best in Australia" is just idiocy. 

Wine shows are designed as ways to sell wines using little gold stickers. 

There are also several other issues. 

Judging panel chairs may instruct judges to look for certain characteristics, perhaps ruling out very good, but heavily oaked wines. 

And some judges are able to identify wines from their winery - or even region - at 20 paces, giving them high scores and arguing their merits.

Also, no judge's palate can hope to be as sharp on shiraz No.80 in a line-up as it was on No.1.

Check out this surprise winner by all means - but it is not the best red in Australia. 

Even if the Daily Mail, Kiss FM and the Daily Wine News tell you otherwise.

1 comment:

  1. Also Winsor the wine shown in the photo is not the winning wine. The winner was the "Fat Cat" and had different packaging.
    I hope stores selling the more entry level "Cat Amongst The Pigeons" do not identify this lesser wine as the Trophy Winner