Cabernet tasting a world first

Taste test: Judging of the 2020 Australian Cabernet Challenge takes place at the Coonawarra last week as judges correspond with their counterparts in Western Australia. Photo: Coonawarra Facebook.
Taste test: Judging of the 2020 Australian Cabernet Challenge takes place at the Coonawarra last week as judges correspond with their counterparts in Western Australia. Photo: Coonawarra Facebook.

The Coonawarra wine region last week played an integral role in what is believed to be a world first for the industry.

Tastings for the James Halliday Australian Cabernet Challenge took place on September 7 and 8 with Victoria's Yarra Valley and Western Australia's Margaret River regions also taking part.

Due to border closures and travel restrictions as a result of COVID-19, judging took place over Zoom.

Judging was simultaneously held at Coonawarra and Margaret River.

In the lead up to the tastings, James Halliday said he was looking forward to the innovation.

"As Australian cabernet styles continue to evolve and increasingly reflect their sense of place, it is appropriate that the Cabernet Challenge be simultaneously judged in three regions across the country," he said.

Judging was also expected to take place in the Yarra Valley however restrictions prevented this from occurring.

This was the fifth installment of the challenge, which was a collaboration between Coonawarra Vignerons, Margaret River Wine Association and Yarra Valley Wine Growers Association and was presented by Langtons.

Judges at Coonawarra included local winemaker Pete Bissell, formerly of Balnaves, Barossa Baron Jane Ferrari and McLaren Vale based winemaker Andrew Hardy.

Penley Estate winemaker Lauren Hansen and Otellia winemaker Matilda Innes were associate judges.

More than 350 Cabernet wines were entered into the challenge.

Scores were given on a 100 point scale, with entries that scored 95 points or above eligible for the Australian Cabernet Trophy and Best of Region awards.

Last year, Yaluma was awarded the Best of for the Coonawarra region with their 2017 The Menzies Cabernet Sauvignon scoring 96 points.

Results will be announced online on September 24.