Wine experts on panels, whether they are deciding on awards or whether they are suppliers deciding on stock, must judge according to a set and clear selection of criteria. These address the whole of the wine making process. Attention to detail and consistency are essential qualities in both the work of wine producers and the judges themselves.
Firstly, the wine under consideration must be free from technical wine making faults. Sometimes – thought not very often among accomplished wine makers – some hiccup in the process can lead to the wine being poor or at worst, undrinkable. The technical side of things is both an art form and a skill, thus its assessment must be done with
expertise and impartiality.
Secondly, a wine must exhibit clean and clear ‘varietal characters’. This refers to the degree to which a wine reflects and adheres to its varietal origins. Varietal characters have their own vocabulary – taking in fruits, spices, and herbs along with things such as bubblegum, bacon fat, salami, tar and camphor.
Another factor is generosity in flavour in length and depth, and then naturally linked with this, a balanced use of oak, fruit, sugar and acid. Does it have an unctuous mouth feel and a rounded array of aromas?
For Wine Selectors (An online wines store in Australia), any wine under consideration must be of a Bronze medal standard or higher, according to the standard Australian 20 point scheme – a judgment process that is made before being presented to Wine Selectors. Bronze status requires 15.5 points out of 20
Another important thing is that each panelist deciding on a wine writes their own individual tasting notes and scores each wine with their personal grade. This ensures there is a great deal of variety on panels, and that the peculiarities of personal taste do play a part.
The process with Wine Selectors is that all scores are entered into a computer and then averaged. After this, each wine is discussed and all comments are also entered into a computer, with feedback then given to all producers on exactly how their wine was scored during the judging process. Generally, all wines chosen are drinkable when young but with potential for cellaring.
The wine would need to be exhibiting fresh varietal fruit with a flavour some and clean palate. The wine must be free of disease and stale odours and would in all likelihood be exhibiting attributes gained from its terroir.
A wine must be representative of not just the variety, but also the region from which it spawned.