ALMOST 500 local wines were swirled and sipped by wine connoisseurs this week at the Limestone Coast Wine Show.
The event, which kicked off on Tuesday at Coonawarra Hall, saw record entry levels with 78 wine exhibitors from all over the SE.
The judging panel consisted of interstate wine makers Ed Tomlinson and Kate Hill, writers Mike Bennie and Nick Ryan as well as international wine critic Anthony Gismondi.
The judges spent over two days tasting the region's top drops for the 12th annual event.
Chairman of judges Andrew Wigan, who is the chief winemaker at Peter Lehmann Wines in the Barossa Valley, said there was great diversity in the judging panel.
"There is good balance between the wine making perspective and that of the journalist, as well as a good dose of experience."
On the first day of tasting, wine writer Nick Ryan told the Herald things were looking good so far.
"This is the first show I've been to where the first wine to come out was given unanimous gold medals by all the judges," he said.
"We just tasted the 2010 Shiraz class which was very good but it is the Cabernet that gets lots of attention and justifiably.
"We are about to do the 2011 Shiraz Cabernet which was a difficult vintage but good winemakers still come through in difficult times."
Mr Ryan said the show was a great snapshot of the region.
"It has the classics of Coonawarra and the new and exciting stuff from all over the SE."
Canadian wine critic Anthony Gismondi said he had spent a few days in the region prior to the event which allowed him to reset his palette.
"Being from Canada there are a lot of similarities in the wines so I feel a bit sympatic of the types of styles. The region is in a good position and if they keep the grapes relatively ripe and not too green they will be successful."
The Limestone Coast Wine Show winners will be announced at the trophy presentation feast tonight at Stonehaven Barrel Hall in Padthaway.
Wine enthusiasts unable to attend the sell-out event can view live announcements on Twitter by following The Limestone Coast Grape and Wine Council @LCGWC or #lcwine.
Interviews with the winners and judges can also be viewed in the following days by searching "Limestone Coast Wine" on YouTube.
There will be a public tasting session at Coonawarra Hall tomorrow which will provide an opportunity to try the wines entered in the competition.
The exhibitor's tasting will be held from 9-11.30am, and the public tasting from 11.30am-1.30pm. Admission is $15 and includes a results book (valued at $10).