Judging underway in Murrumbateman for Cool Climate Wine Show

Judges were enjoying a well-earned break after swirling, sniffing and tasting 55 shiraz wines on Wednesday afternoon.

A steward pours shiraz wines for judges at the Australian Cool Climate Wine Show. Photo: Hannah Sparks

A steward pours shiraz wines for judges at the Australian Cool Climate Wine Show. Photo: Hannah Sparks

Around 800 hours will be spent arranging and judging the 519 entries at the 21st Australian Cool Climate Wine Show.

Murrumbateman Recreation Hall is a hive of activity from Saturday, September 7 to Sunday, September 15.

A team of 40 local volunteers who love wine will pour from 3114 bottles and wash, dry and lay out 3115 glasses across the week.

This allows the three judges and two associate judges to concentrate on what they do best.

This year's judges come from the Hunter Valley, southern Tasmania and Barossa Valley, but their names won't be revealed until judging is finished.

"This is to maintain integrity. It may be that the entrant knows the judge's taste or could contact them," wine show manager Brent Lello said.

The volunteers then do it all again in preparation for the public tasting on Saturday, when everyone is invited to try the entered wines.

The public can also taste the award-winning wines at a lunch with the judges on Saturday afternoon.

There were 195 medal-winning wines in 2018 and 120 medals - 21 gold, 23 silver and 76 bronze - had been awarded by Wednesday.

The judges were looking for varietal definition and cool climate characteristics, Mr Lello said.

Australian Cool Climate Wine Show manager Brent Lello stands with the 2019 entries. Photo: Hannah Sparks

Australian Cool Climate Wine Show manager Brent Lello stands with the 2019 entries. Photo: Hannah Sparks

"Silver and gold medals represent wines that express pure expressions of the variety. A cool climate riesling should be crisp, have good acid structure, citrus aromas and flavours, as an example," Mr Lello explained.

"There are over 30 cool climate regions and nearly every one is represented here.

"The judges don't necessarily need to come from cool climate regions. We are looking for people who have show judging experience and winemaking or industry expertise.

"We begin the week with a palate calibration session to ensure all judges understand the characteristics and varietals of cool climate wine. That becomes the baseline," Mr Lello said.

The first Cool Climate Wine Show was held in 1999 and attracted just 99 entries.

It was founded by Ken Helm from Helm Wines; Virginia Rawling, then from England's Creek Winery; and Duncan Leslie, then from Murrumbateman Winery.

Mr Lello said the wine show provided an opportunity for cool climate winemakers to have their wines assessed and benchmarked against others.

"Winemakers want to see how they're going year on year. We get a lot of repeat entries," he said.

There were a record number of entries, 80, from the Canberra District Wine Region this year.

Mr Lello said there was "every chance" the winning wine could be a local.

"We've got great winemakers here. You've got to be in it to win it," he said.

The 2018 Best Wine of Show was the Home Hill 2017 Kelly's Reserve Pinot Noir from Tasmania.

Mr Lello said the wine show also attracted many visitors to the region and added to Murrumbateman's reputation as a food and wine destination.

The public tastings are on at 11am and 2pm at Murrumbateman Recreation Hall on Saturday, September 14. Tickets are $40.

The Long Table Luncheon begins at 11.30am on the same day and is held in a marquee in Murrumbateman Recreation Ground. Tickets are $110.