A number of new opportunities have presented themselves since last year’s addition of The Canberra Wine House to The Dickson Tradies; but none more significant than hosting this year’s Canberra and Region Wine Show.
A truckload of tables, an industry dishwasher, 750 glasses, 120 tea towels, 10 judges, and 10 stewards set up camp with 321 of the Canberra Region’s finest wines – which weren’t going to taste-test themselves.
For the first time since its inception in 1997, the Canberra Wine Show was unable to go ahead at Exhibition Park thanks to 700 campervans filling the space for the National Caravan Clubs Rally. So from Sept. 19-23, The Tradies found out first hand what it took to find Canberra’s finest drop.
“We caught wind of the fact that they needed a space to judge,” says Brysson Leeson of The Canberra Wine House. “We thought it made so much sense to have it here with everything that The Tradies are doing to be involved and to support the Canberra region.”
The Wine Show showcases the ever-evolving quality of locally grown and produced wines, with standouts of the weekend qualifying for The National Wine Show of Australia.
But what does putting together a wine show involve?
“My position now is Master Glass Washer,” says one of the Wine Show’s 10 stewards, Jeff Cannock. “If I’m tied up I can wash 750 glasses in an hour and get them dry,” he adds with the calm sense of professionalism acquired over 40-odd years around the scene. “It takes seven dries to do it… The judges, they can smell if that glass has been dried with a wet tea towel.”
Those tea towels have to be washed in plain water, rather than detergent, and stewards cannot wear heavy scented perfume, deodorant or aftershave – anything that may present the judges with an overriding smell.
As Cannock approaches the judging table, he pauses, then counts: one-thousand, two thousand, knowing he has hit his mark. Stewards are required to pour within a millimetre of the glass’ specified capacity.
By the time wine hits the glass, each of the 321 bottles have been sorted into classes, varieties, and vintages ready for the judges. A scoring system out of 60 sees wines take home a bronze (46.5-50), silver (51-55), gold (55.5+), or “Top Gold” (if multiple wines in one glass score over 55.5).
With Senior Sommelier of Rockpool Bar & Grill, Sebastian Crowther, named Chairman of Judges, a fantastic opportunity is presented for Canberra Region wines to be snapped up interstate.
“It’s inspiring having people like Sebastian come here because you know how seriously they are taking the Canberra Wine Region,” says Leeson. And the results back it up.
At the Friday evening awards, 38 wines win gold, 50 silver, and 83 bronze – an outstanding feat for region that drew snickers from wine critics no more than a decade ago.
Ravensworth Wines’ 2015 Shiraz Viognier drew Champion Wine of the Show and Collector Wines Marked Tree Red Shiraz took home Wine of Provenance, awarded to a dry white or red with vintage spread over 10 or more years.
“We’ve had a pretty good experience here,” says Cannock. “This is the first time we’ve held it at The Tradies Club and that gave us some advantages that we haven’t had before. For instance, at Exhibition Park we really don’t have any in-house staff. Here you’ve just got the best staff who look after the kitchen here for us, they make sure all the garbage is cleaned out every night, they bring in morning and lunch, which is made on site.”
“We hope it’s a relationship that will build,” says Leeson. “I think the concept of The Wine House has taken off and people are pretty intrigued by it. It’s been a great 12 months and it will only grow – we have so many more ideas of what we can do in there.”
“It’s an evolving thing making people aware of how good the quality of the wines are here in Canberra,” says Leeson, “and I think we’re doing our part in trying to push and promote it as much as we can.”