More than 800 wines are being swirled, sniffed, swished and spat at Cessnock Leagues Club this week as judging for the 2016 NSW Wines Awards takes place.
Entries from all 14 NSW wine regions have been submitted for this year’s awards, which will be judged by industry experts from all over Australia.
The judging started on Tuesday and will continue throughout Wednesday and Thursday.
Chair of judges PJ Charteris said the wines tasted so far have been very good.
“It’s been very encouraging to see different styles and varieties out of the mainstream,” he said.
Temperanillo, vermentino and malbec were some of the emerging styles that have shown promise this year.
The judges operate in three teams of five – consisting of a panel leader, two senior judges and two associates (who are learning about the judging process).
Winemakers, wine writers and sommeliers are among this year’s contingent.
“A neat group of palates with different fields of expertise and a diverse knowledge base gives us the best results,” Mr Charteris said.
The judges give each wine a score of 100 based on sight, aroma and taste; a team discussion follows and then the points are formally awarded.
“It’s a team effort, not just one person’s view,” Charteris said.
The gold-medallists will be presented at Government House on October 27 and the winners will be announced at Pier One Sydney Harbour the next day.
The NSW Wine Awards are in their 21st year and were judged in Sydney until 2013.
NSW Wine Industry Association president Tom Ward said the association decided to take the judging to regional areas to engage with the state’s winemaking communities.
“The heart of it is in the regions,” he said.
The judging was held in Griffith in 2014 and Orange hosted last year’s judging.
Cessnock Leagues Club CEO Paul Cousins said hosting the 2016 awards’ judging is a fantastic honour for the club.
“Hosting an event of this importance demonstrates how valuable an asset clubs are to their communities and also highlights the strong connection between Cessnock and the local wine industry,” he said.