For the back half of this working week, I’m in our nation’s capital, Canberra, to judge at the Winewise Championship.
This is one of my favourite wine shows on the calendar, for a plethora of reasons not limited to:
a) every entrant in this competition needs to have already won a gold medal at an Australian show (move over National Wine Show), so there is none of the ‘I can’t believe this was ever bottled’, head-shaking moments.
b) scoring is about finding the best in a bracket and giving out medals, not making big dick statements with 98 points.
c) brackets are small (6 wines) and broken up across the day. No sadistic classes of 75 young Cabernet here.
d) judging ego is typically left at the door.
I like it. As is the norm, we also explore Canberra’s best BYO restaurants by night for some extra colour to the judging, and last night it was a trip to the hidden Japanese fusion hero Hachikō in Belconnen.
Delicious, interesting and affordable, this is what suburban Japanese should aspire to. Go there. For some inspiration, that’s my wagyu striploin main below, but a hedonistic thumbs up to the blue swimmer crab chawanmushi as another highlight.
With a reduced, pre-opening night crowd last night we only opened a few bottles, but standards were high.
Naturally, I started the night with the correct aperitif when one is in Canberra city – a freshly poured Bentspoke Sprocket from the brewpub in Braddon.
Then Hachikō’s tidbits seem tailor-made to Chardonnay, and these three very different wines offered plenty.
The ’15 Seville Estate looked awfully tight and closed, with it’s lean styling and acid-first structure offering Chardonnay in all its purity, but this was a wine with desperate need for more flesh. Something to grab onto beside funk and tight lines. Even now, at seven years of age, it looked too young.
The 2015 Yabby Lake was a worthy contender. Less strict, more layers, a bit more width, even if it didn’t have the same purity as the strict Seville. I’d drink the Yabby 2-1 over the Seville. No hurry to drink either by the way, they’re still babes.
Next up was the 2018 Tissot. I’ve written about this wine previously, and it looked no different tonight. Still a huge, nay, overwhelming mouthful of a wine that feels like it’s bursting out of itself, even despite the power of its acidity. A one glass wine, although an incredibly complex one at that.
Finally, for something tangential, the 2002 Jadot was just a lovely mature Burgundy. Soft, rounded, with the mushrooming meatiness of bottle age working nicely with the volumes of red fruit still hanging in there. As the night wore on it looked in danger of falling over the development edge, but the drinking satisfaction was arguably higher than the other three Chardies.
From last night’s dinner into today’s first day of judging and there was much joy to be had. A pack of 2021 Riesling from across the nation reminded all that a) Riesling is great b) yeah Riesling is great. Three further brackets of older wines (including one super surprising 2010) pushed the Riesling message home with a flourish.
In other highlights today was a line of 2019 Pinot Noir from across the county that was so impressive that it was hard not to give out gold medals. Couple that with a bracket of welcomingly grownup Tempranillo and the general feel was that life (and wine) is pretty good.
Now it’s time for a palate-cleansing beer…
HELP KEEP THIS SITE FREE
Rather than using a paywall or bombarding you with ads I simply ask for a small contribution via the Paypal link below. Any amount welcome, it all helps keep this site free.
GET A $20 VOUCHER TO SPEND ON WINE
Now at The Wine Collective