26th Grand International Wine Awards Mundus Vini Spring Tasting 2020

The Mundus Vini wine awards are held in Neustadt an der Weinstrasse, in the heart of the Palatinate region in the Pfalz, south of Frankfurt every spring.  268 wine experts from 54 countries gathered at the 6-day tasting in February to blind taste and assess around 7500 wines from 45 countries. Jenny Ratcliffe-Wright, Cape Wine Master, was invited to be a judge for another year in a row and this time as Canada’s first-panel chair.

Over the days of tasting, Ratcliffe-Wright chaired a panel with judges from Germany, Australia, Russia, Ukraine and Portugal who tasted wines from 11 countries.  Garnacha based red blends from Germany and Spain showed solid quality with very few faulty bottles or winemaking faults. A flight of Sauvignon Blanc from Trentino and Veneto in Italy and white blends from various regions in Italy showed good varietal character, while the blends highlighted the great quality of white wines coming out of Italy recently, being super easy to every day drinkers to enjoy.

The Pinot Noir flight from Chile and New Zealand was outstanding with judges awarding many medals.  Merlot from various Spanish regions ranging from La Mancha to Catalonia was solid without too many surprises.

The sparkling wine and Prosecco flight from Italy and Germany showed wines that were whistle clean and market-ready.  Rioja from Spain was interesting in that there were many different styles from the region, but in general, the quality was very high.

The Shiraz and Shiraz blends from South Australia showed beautiful balance and fruit.  There was a Pinot Gris flight from Germany, Australia, New Zealand, the USA, Serbia and North Macedonia, while being from a wide range of countries, the grape showed its character and it was obvious why this varietal is so popular worldwide.

Chenin Blanc from various regions in South Africa from Swartland to Walker Bay was promising with a wild card of a Chenin Blanc from Armenia included in the lineup and that had been blended with Aligoté and Kangun.

Valpolicella Ripasso from Northern Italy was an interesting flight with many excellent wines.

Each judge is measured daily on a tasting and scoring graph against their peers to ensure precision of tasting without too much deviation and to ensure consistency.

Christian Wolf, tasting director for Mundus Vini said: “We can see purely by the figures and the feedback from our tasters that the level of quality has risen considerably this year.”

Australia emerged from the competition as number one in the overseas category with a total of 72 medals with Kilikanoon Wines being named, once again, the best Australian winery with 19 medals. South Africa came in 2nd of the wines from overseas with 55 medals and Argentina 3rd with 49. The best Argentinian winery was Gruppo Peñaflor who received a total of 11 medals

Some of the top-rated wines of the show were:

2016 Kilikanoon Oracle Shiraz (Best of show, Australia red)

2018 Jaraman Chardonnay (best of show Australia white)

2016 DeWetshof Estate The Site Chardonnay (best of show South Africa white)

2016 Kleine Zalze Family Reserve Shiraz (Best of Show, South Africa red)

2015 Felipe Staiti Honor (Best of show Argentina)

For the European wines, Italy scored the most medal with 658 with Spain a close second with 631 and France with 325.

“It was an exciting tasting this year to see high quality from so many regions and a privilege to judge with so many accomplished international palates.” Says Jenny.  “I look forward to judging in the competition again next year.”

Jenny Ratcliffe-Wright

Australian Cabernet Sauvignon Insights

According to Wine-Searcher, Australia produces seven of the world’s top 10 value Cabernet Sauvignon. Based on wines with at least a 90-point rating + and dividing the rating by the wine’s price, Cabernet Sauvignon from Australian regions Clare Valley, McLaren Vale, Coonawarra, Langhorne Creek and Margaret River out-performed wines from international competitors Napa Valley and Bordeaux.

This comes on top of Australia’s strong performance at the 2019 Decanter World Wine Awards. Of the 27 gold medals awarded to Cabernet Sauvignon, Australia received the most with seven golds ahead of France and South Africa.

Gold medals awarded to Cabernet Sauvignon at the 2019 Decanter World Wine Awards:

Australia 7
France 4
South Africa 4
Chile 3
China 3
USA 2
Italy 1
Romania 1
Bulgaria 1
Israel 1
Total 27

Did you know that Cabernet Sauvignon is the world’s most planted grape variety?

According to IWSR, Cabernet Sauvignon is the world’s largest selling variety with 163 million cases (9-liter case equivalents) sold across the globe in 2018. Cabernet Sauvignon is Australia’s second most planted red variety behind Shiraz.

In 2019, while the overall Australian grape-crush declined by 3 percent, the Cabernet Sauvignon crush increased by 3 percent to just over 250,000 tonnes and reflecting growing demand, the average purchase price of Cabernet increased by 14 percent to $846 per tonne. Reflecting the premium nature of Cabernet Sauvignon, 12 % of the Cabernet Sauvignon purchased by Australian wineries was at prices above $1500 per tonne (vs 7 % for all grapes).

Australian Cabernet Sauvignon is shipped to over 114 markets around the world, with China and the United States the two biggest export destinations with a combined 70 percent value share.

The premium status of Australian Cabernet Sauvignon is also evident in the latest export figures. Exports of Australian single variety Cabernet Sauvignon averaged A$6.71 per liter in 2018–19, well-above the total average for all red wines of A$4.54 per liter. Australian Cabernet Sauvignon was destined for 114 markets

According to IRI Worldwide, in 2018–19, sales of Australian Cabernet Sauvignon grew 6 % in value in the USA’s off-trade market, double the overall Cabernet market growth rate of 3 %. For Australia, the strongest growth is coming at US$8–14.99 per bottle and, albeit off a small base, above US$25 per bottle.

The Clones
Wine Australia is also investing in R & D into Cabernet Sauvignon. The South Australian Research and Development Institute (SARDI) is currently into the final year of a three-year project, ‘Cabernet Sauvignon trials to evaluate response to climate and management.’ Three field sites of Cabernet Sauvignon plantings will be established in contrasting climates and soils. Each will contain at least 10 Cabernet Sauvignon clones that will be selected in collaboration with the sector and monitored to ensure that vines are well-established.

In the future, clone performance will be evaluated via a range of parameters including vine phenology, vegetative and reproductive growth, water relations and berry traits. The construction of the trial will allow comparison between different clones at the same site and between the performance of each clone in different.

SARDI
https://pir.sa.gov.au/research/about_sardi

Wines Australia
https://www.wineaustralia.com/