THE WINEWISE WAY
Food, cinema, wine – you name it – all three, and more, are the subjects of countless opinions in all forms of media. Until the advent of the internet, it was costly and difficult to self-publish those opinions. Commentators were expected to have paid their dues in their respective fields. Now it’s open slather. Bloggers, gabblers and all manner of self-opinionated “experts” have their chances to vent their spleens on the so-called information super-highway. Canberra-based Winewise has provided well-informed commentary on wine since 1985, and here’s how we do it.
The Winewise panel tastes “blind”.
That is, the wines are always poured out of sight of the panel by our stewards. In the vast majority of cases, they are grouped by variety, region and vintage – and are never tasted in brackets of more than 12. Some of our articles cover tastings where this isn’t possible, but where wines are tasted with labels visible, we’ll always tell you.
Why do we do this?
Because a glimpse of the label is worth a 1,000 words. Labels influence everybody, and those who claim otherwise are either kidding themselves or lying. Wine assessment is one of the few fields of its type that allows opinions to be formed without bias and preconception. Relatively few commentators go to the trouble of tasting “blind”. We leave it to you to decide why.
Our panel often welcomes guest tasters such as Canberra District winemakers Nick O’Leary, Alex McKay (Collector), Nick Spencer (Eden Road) and Tim Kirk (Clonakilla) because we value “outside” professional opinion and frank discussion of the wines on the table. Importantly, with a succession of guest tasters and the eagle-eyed observation of our stewards, there can be no reversal of opinion once the identities of wines are revealed. Think about that, and you’ll realise how important it is.
Winewise doesn’t stop there.
Every year we conduct two major events where we are joined by some outstanding judges of wine. The Winewise Small Vigneron Awards (limited to Australian producers crushing 250 tonnes or less) draws about 1,300 entries. We publish detailed notes on all the top 400 (approx.) wines and list the rest. What’s more, we’re happy to provide feedback on any wine if requested. In our Winewise Championship we invite all gold medal-winning wines from our regional wine shows, Australia-wide, and the National Wine Show to enter. We bring together a stellar judging panel of winemakers, media commentators, retail trade people and the Winewise crew to decide the best of the best. Every wine tasted is reviewed. What’s more, in the Small Vigneron Awards and the Championship, results will be made available to subscribers as soon as the judges’ decisions are made. Our reviews will follow shortly after.
We also visit wine areas all over the country to provide regional viewpoints. Tastings are organised on-site from Margaret River to Mudgee. The Winewise panel sits down with each region’s producers to taste “blind” and discuss their wines. We listen to all opinions, but, in the end, the reviews are very much our own. Nobody else lays it on the line like that.