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The fulcrum of a judged wine show is its judges.  The New England Wine Show has welcomed the involvement of a group of dedicated wine judges for its annual event, and has also been lucky enough to attract some very influential and renowned guest wine judges to the region to act as Chairs.  The Association appreciates their time and effort and thanks all the Chairs of Judges, Wine Judges and Associates for their involvement in the regional industry and helping local producers benchmark their products and strive for continual quality improvement. The "regular" but very much appraciated panel of judges whom we are pleased to welcome back year after year and whose input is invaluable to the regional producers include Charles Whish, Mike DeGaris and Stephen Doyle.  These fantastic contributors to the region's wines are rounded out by associate judges each year.

Below are just some of the comments made by visiting wine judges on the "New England Australia" wine region, on the New England Wine Show, on the region's producers and their wines.

Rob Geddes:

“It is particularly exciting to see what is coming out of Topper’s Mountain and from the region…This (Toppers Mountain Gerwurztraminer) is one of those wines which makes New England so special on the Australian wine scene…you have something rare here, a balanced, rich, age worthy gewurztraminer".

“You’ve got some really exciting things happening on your doorstep.” 

“You’ve really got something great here – your wines are excellent and they are not expensive.” 

“Your wines have substance, quiet charm and very attractive from a restaurant point of view.”

 “You have an emerging cluster of very high quality wines here being made with very safe hands.” 

“When Australia wakes up to New England it will be very hard, as Hilary Clinton said about Bill, "hard to keep on the porch!"” 

"Pinot sales are up 60 -70%.  There is a real fan club for new wines styles like Tempranillo and Nebiolo".

“Gerwurztraminer, Tempranillo, Petit Verdot, Shiraz: the New England intensity of UV light makes for exciting flavour and tannin in these wines especially the way they come on and off the tongue.”

 “You are part of an enormous opportunity here as NSW is the only region that can make varietal Semillon of global distinction.” 

“New England Wine Show award winning wines from this week are very restaurant friendly.” 

“New England's top wines are in the top 60% of the best Australian wines.” 

“New England Australia has moved from brick standard to gold standard in twelve years and that has been a great move…your wines taste great and they are unique in style.” 

" 2000, New England was one of the bottom 15 regions in NSW, whereas today they are in the top 5 I think in terms of overall excitement....." 

" The (New England) Wine Show has worked wonderfully for this region to develop quality....." "..... and I'm very surprised because wine shows in Australia are subject to a fair bit of discussion at the moment, but the New England Regional Wine Show is one of the best at doing what wine shows do - improving the breed..."

"...In the New England you have high altitude giving very bright sunshine but also cooler conditions, and the graduations of flavour between those high altitude with that extra bit of coolness towards the lower altitude is the difference between blackberry and plum in Shiraz over a 350 metre decline...." 

"You've got some great regional assets that the rest of Australia don't have... (for example) ......Gerwurztraminer, Tempranillo, Petit Verdot..... they are all grapes that we'll see a lot more of in the future. Nebiolo, Barbera, Pinotage, Tannat would be the next string along the way....." 

"....what New England will add to Australia and NSW in detail....... is Gerwurztraminer, Tempranillo, Petit Verdot...... these flavours will give New England a unique personality and a character that no-one else can imitate anywhere else in the world..."

"... then we had to do the best New England Wine.....and that went to a Gerwurztraminar from Toppers Mountain in New England....."


Rob Geddes MW

Chair of Judges, New England Wine Show 2012

Master of Wine

Author of “Australian Wine Vintages”

Founder of Geddes A Drink Publications

Wine judge national and international wine shows

Public speaker and presenter on wine industry

Bligh Grant:

“The emerging European varieties being produced by the Region –Tempranillo, Nebiolo, Tannat, Petit Verdot  --  are stunning.  They have a vibrancy, intensity and power that we associate with the very best Australia has produced; they also get top marks for being "out-of-the-box", interesting wines”.

“It is no exaggeration to say that New England Australia has evolved from being a ‘hit and miss’ affair in 2000 to being a top contender for Australia’s most exciting new wine region. Glen Inness is the metaphysical heart of the region and the New England Wine Show is its crucible”.

“Being a participant in the New England Wine Show in 2012 was like completing a PhD in three days. It was one of the most profoundly intellectual and sensory experiences imaginable. The Show Committee and all exhibitors have my sincere gratitude – more people should get to the public tasting”.

Bligh Grant

Associate Judge, New England Wine Show 2012

Convener: Wine Industry Working Group, New England Business School

Research Lecturer & Deputy Director of the UNE Centre for Local Government

James Halliday:

"…What I’ve been impressed with on this trip…is the really quite vibrant tourist infrastructure: farmstays…lots and lots of motels, places to go….good signage to local points of interest: Aboriginal grounds, cultural areas…lookouts, landscapes…the country is a wonderful green….. looks terrific…..and it’s naturally a very pretty area……. with constant rolling hills giving you vistas wherever you look….it’s got none of the boring "sameness" that you do get in regions, well, particularly like (some other regions) which are laser-flat….. so there is a lot to offer, plus local produce:….. combining lifestyle, tourism with wine and food…."

"There is no other region which has come on stream with so much to offer as New England…It is a beautiful region; it is no coincidence that the name New England was chosen when it was first settled. Variations in altitude, aspect, degree of slope, and soil type give vignerons a wide choice of variety and wine style".

James Halliday AM

Chair of Judges, New England Wine Show 2007

Wine writer, wine critic, wine maker and senior wine competition judge nationally and internationally

  • James Halliday Annual Wine Companion
  • Described as as "Australia’s leading wine writer"
  • Written and co-authored more than 40 books on wine
  • Awarded an AM for service to the wine industry as a winemaker, show judge, author and promoter of Australian wine internationally, and through senior roles with a range of professional organisations
  • Co-founder of Brokenwood winery in the Hunter Valley in 1970
  • Founder Coldstream Hills in the Yarra Valley in 1985

Huon Hooke:

"You always hope that you are going to find a few gold medals……..but we found quite a lot of gold medal wines…..

and we found them across a range of grape varieties which was really quite heartening, and quite an eye opener for me"

"…..for example there were gold medals in cabernet, shiraz, chardonnay, semillon, ……….but the ones I didn’t really expect to find gold medal wines amongst were less mainstream varieties such as nebbiolo, mourvedre, ……. there were a couple of other varieties that you wouldn’t expect top wines amongst, one of them was a tannat……….. it’s a pretty obscure variety even in France where it comes from, let alone Australia…..and I can only think of one other tannat produced in Australia …it’s from Shoalhaven….so you‘ve got one up here and not only that - it’s a very good one!..."

"Look next week I’m going to be in (a South Australian region) judging (at a) wine show and I’m going to have to tell them that up here in New England you’ve got a tiny little wine region, which is the newest in Australia, which has more…bigger range of interesting wines than they have (there)".

"… there were several Gerwurztraminers here that really rated well I think there were at least two gold maybe three gold medals in Gewurz….. so there is something really unusual there........... someone here is growing seriously good Gerwurztraminer. …….. I’ve judged in most of the wine shows all around Australia and quite a lot overseas, but I can’t think of another wine show in this country where you would find a number of really outstanding Gerwurztraminers like we’ve found here…"

"We had three or four, maybe five, very good examples of (Tempranillo)… I think one of them got a gold medal……….. there were several good examples… I think that is variety you could hang your hats on up here…."

Huon Hooke

Chair of Judges, New England Wine Show 2011

Award-winning wine writer, wine judge, wine educator and wine lecturer / public speaker

  • Sydney Morning Herald Good Food
  • Good Weekend magazine
  • Gourmet Traveller WINE Magazine
  • Decanter magazine
  • Penguin Good Australian Wine Guide

Australia's Wine Communicator of the Year 2008