2023 Margaret River Wine Judging – deliberations from our judges

Wine news

Fri 1 Sep 2023

By Mila Gorchakova

This week our team of international judges have traveled to Margaret River to judge the region’s wines in situ  in parnership with Margaret River Wine Association. We caught up with our experts at the end of the tasting to hear about which grape varieties, vintages and styles impressed them the most.

Over three days of judging the IWSC experts tasted over 250 entries. The judging panels were overseen by our Judging Committee Member, Master of Wine Alistair Cooper who was joined by a team of on-trade and off-trade wine professionals and communicators: Master of Wine Beth Pearce, Freddy Bulmer, Melania Battiston and Libby Brodie. Local Australian wine experts also joined our international judges, bringing their invaluable insight and experience.

A relatively small region in Western Australia, Margaret River accounts for 2% of the country’s wine production. However a large part of Australia’s premium wines are produced here, hence Margaret River’s unofficial title – ‘boutique wine region’. This was certainly reflected in the quality of wines that entered the IWSC in-situ judging. Our experts noted that the bar had been set really high. Moreover there were a few flights where no wine was left without a medal, be it gold, silver or bronze.

The judges enjoyed tasting and comparing different vintages of Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon, the two flagship grapes of Margaret River. Our experts proclaimed Cabernet Sauvignon as the absolute king of the tasting, admiring the quality and the potential of the wines. "The Cabernet 2018 flight was an outstanding flight of wines and demonstrated that there is a lot of life left in those wines,” our experts shared. The 2019 Cabernets also impressed the judges who described these wines as well-integrated, with firm structure: “Most seemed to be starting to develop beautifully, with dry spice and truffle flavours emerging in the best examples. These wines showed that there is a lot of quality in this vintage.” The judges added, that there was some beauty in the 2021 Cabernets and the 2020s also looked generally very good.

The Chardonnays performed great, earning several gold medals, as well as a few silver and bronze awards. The best examples combined mineral characteristics with vibrant fruit flavours, the judges comparing them to the refined Burgundian whites. “There was, however, a compelling difference between the 2022 and 2021 Chardonnays,” said the judges. “The 2022s looked excellent, whereas the 2021s seems like a trickier vintage. The 2022 Chardonnays were the best of the white wines we tasted, with a range of styles and oak use on offer, but some brilliant wines that captured the phenolic character of the local clone, and the natural zingy pink grapefruit acidity."

The Shiraz flight, allbeit much smaller in quantity than the Cabernet Sauvignon and the Chardonnay ones, also had some high quality entries. “The Shiraz that embraced the natural medium-bodied style of the region showed the best and had an elegance and effortless complexity,” the judges revealed.

Another interesting flight was the one comprising Sauvignon/Semillon blends, with a few medals being awarded to these wines. "The best examples of Sauvignon/Semillon blends were textural wines with a juicy, succulent palate and ample freshness," shared the judges.

The IWSC’s 2023 Margaret River Wine Results will be announced on Monday 4 September 2023.