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Chair of Judges overview of the KPMG Sydney Royal Show

My job  is to ostensibly provide a breakdown and overview of the results, which invariably can turn into something akin to and as boring as the Brownlow medal count. So rather that channel Richard Gawel, I see some of you old graduates of Roseworthy and Adelaide University shuddering as his mere mention, I will focus on the positives and areas for improvement.

I first need to credit Sandy Hathaway from Wine Australia for some serious data gathering and analysis at short notice. She compiled data for me spanning the last 4 years across production as well as domestic and export sales. While trends are difficult to prove statistically due to vintage variation and some limitations in the data set we can find some clear correlations across this data and the show results.

As with any wine show it is easy to get trapped on the trophies but there is much more to be discovered in the full results.

Domestically the growth areas for sales are in Rose and Pinot Noir, no surprises there, as well as Other Red Varieties all of which performed very well particularly across the Mediterranean based varieties. The rise of Tempranillo continues, and winemakers are capturing varietal definition while developing a distinct Australian accent to this variety which is great to see.

The overall medal tallies on Rose and Pinot are strong but golds are less easy to come by which means winemakers still have some work to do. Pinot Gris fits a similar mould and winemakers of these varieties should look to the top wines if they are interested in gold medal achievement.

As is common Riesling and Semillon performed very well across all their age classes and from the sales data continue to be under appreciated by the consumer domestically while they are up in export markets. All I can say here is point your consumers towards these results if they are interested in quality/price over delivery. A surprise entrant in this space is Cabernet and Cabernet blends, both of which performed strongly and struggle for traction domestically but have export growth.

Chardonnay and Shiraz continue to be the quiet achievers and deliver both valve and quality across a broad base of regions and styles. While Shiraz was a little off the pace with medals varietally, Shiraz Dominant blends were a star achiever with a high overall medal tally and strong golds across 2016 and 2017. Perhaps a signal of winemakers shifting from the Old Man style of wine and onto a more fruit focused and contemporary style.

Sparkling, while previously dominated by one producer was particularly strong at the pointy end of town with a spread of producers.

Fortifieds are generally just a pleasure to judge with strong results.

And to the lone Brandy producer, do not stop what you are doing, you have an important piece of Australian vinous history to look after.

In summary, with a solid set of results, exhibits up and new exhibitors entering their wines not just here in Sydney but around the country the message is clear, that we are providing a useful tool for producers to use to connect with key buyers and consumers in a meaningful, transparent and cost-effective way. Well done to all.

Some quick thank yous, firstly to Sally Evans and the whole team at the RAS, you folk are a fine-tuned machine and while I’m sure you face challenges at every turn you have it on a string.

Secondly, our team of judges who gave up their time and tooth enamel to make my job a pleasure. Special thanks must go to Fongyee Walker, our international judge, often judges from outside of our system struggle a bit but Fongyee is a seasoned campaigner and her depth of knowledge and judging skill set, not to mention her sense of humour, add a valuable contribution to all discussion. Thank you Fongyee.

Finally, thanks to you the exhibitors, without your support there would be no show so thank you and Good Luck.

Chair of Judges, PJ Charteris at the 2018 KPMG Sydney Royal Wine Awards Dinner