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McLaren Vale wineries in a battle for Bushing glory

McLaren Vale wine producers are preparing to battle it out against the best in the nation at the 2006 Commonwealth Bank McLaren Vale Wine Show.

The competition is tough for this year’s coveted Bushing King or Queen title – with six of the region’s premium wineries winning major national wine awards in recent months.

The Bushing King or Queen is selected from trophy-winning winemakers at the show. The tradition has been carried out in the region since the 1970s, and was taken from medieval times when Tavern owners would place ivy bushes above their doors to celebrate the new vintage wine or fresh mead.

The Australian Wine and Brandy Corporation’s Paul Henry will announce the 21 trophy winners, from 46 classes, at the wine show dinner on Friday 20 October.

Adelaide Crows and All Australian player Nathan Bassett will crown the Bushing King or Queen at the winemaker’s showcase luncheon a week later on Friday 27 October.

McLaren Vale Grape, Wine and Tourism Association Wine Show Committee chairman Dan Hills said a 30 per cent increase in entries would make for a tougher competition this year.

He said the increase in entries demonstrated an excitement in the region about the quality of new release wines.

“Both rosé and shiraz have experienced significant growth in entry numbers – with the rosé class growing by 40 per cent and shiraz by 14 per cent since last year. Not surprisingly, the increase in varietal range reflects the region’s diverse growing heritage,” Mr Hills said.

This year, red wines will be split into two categories – wines produced before 2004 and after 2005.

“We introduced this system because we believe it is important to separate aged red wines from their younger counterparts, as the robust characters in young wines tend to overshadow the softer, aged reds,” he said.

The class structure in the judging line up was also altered to separate the largest shiraz class into over and under a $20 price point.

“We also re-defined several red wine classes so blended wines such as shiraz cabernet and grenache blends can be viewed in their own class.

“The rationale for these changes is simple – new classes have been established to allow the diversity of varietal flavours to stand on their own, rather than be lost in a larger generalised class system. It’s an exciting development,” Mr Hills added.

Scottish wine writer Tom Cannavan was chosen as the international wine judge because of his extensive wine knowledge and to ensure the McLaren Vale Wine Show is judged at an international standard.

Mr Cannavan is a freelance wine writer and author who publishes www.wine-pages.com and edits the bi-monthly magazine Fine Expressions.

The team of Australian judges includes Ian McKenzie, Mike Farmillo, Lester Jesberg, Kate Goodman, Nick Stock and Jeremy Stockman. Mr Hills said the show is one of the first regional shows in the country to use quality Riedel tasting glasses.

“It is an excellent development for us — the judges are looking forward to using the glasses, as it allows wines to be tasted with more clarity.

“Ultimately the feedback helps local winemakers understand why a wine succeeds or how they can develop it further, which is an important part of our wine show,” Mr Hills said.

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