It is lunchtime on Friday and judging is almost finished at the Royal Melbourne Wine Show.
The team here has really gelled. It feels like family and I’ll be sad to leave for home tonight. Today I have been on PJ Charteris’ team and we’ve had a great morning of judging Semillon and Syrah/Shiraz.
How does the judging work? There are teams of five: a chair, two judges, two associates. We all taste the wines and score out of 20, where 15.5 is bronze medal, 17 is silver and 18.5 is gold. Then at the end of the flight, we sit down and scores are taken for each wine.
Scores aren’t necessarily averaged, unless the chair feels it’s a fair result and there’s good agreement. The associates are involved in discussions, but their scores aren’t included. If there’s a wide range of scores with a wine, we’ll probably go back to it. If someone rates a wine 18.5 or above, then the wine will automatically be retasted.
What we try to end up with is a set of the top wines from the flight to retaste in order to find the golds. Initially, we’d probably look at the wines knowing the numbers, but we might also then choose say 4 or 5, have them repoured and randomized so we are looking at them afresh. This helps prevent people backing their own wine because they initially scored it highly.
When the decision about the golds is made, Dave Bicknell is summoned and he has a look at them. Any remaining uncertainties are dealt with, and we then have the gold medal-winning wines.
I can’t tell you how the trophies are decided, because that’s this afternoon’s work.