Comparing varieties and styles across countries can be one of the most fun and fascinating ways of looking at wine. Possibly the most in-depth and interesting exercise, taking this concept to an extreme would be the Five Nations Wine Challenge. Conducted in Sydney, wines from five countries – Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Chile and Argentina – are involved in a shootout, across 16 wine categories. To make it a level playing field, five judges are involved, one from each country, and each has the task of selecting 100 wines each from their own country to be put into the judging, no more than 9 wines per category.
The challenge originated in 2003 when it was a three-way affair between Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, but it was expanded to five countries in 2011 when Chile and Argentina were included. The 2012 Five Nations Wine Challenge had Michael Fridjhon of South Africa, Huon Hooke of Australia, Bob Campbell MW of New Zealand, Eduardo Brethauer of Chile and Fabrico Portelli of Argentina as judges. For 2013, things get spiced up with the U.S.A. involved, and Dan Berger as that country’s judge.
The results for the 2012 Five Nations Wine Challenge were announced on 27 October. The Champion Wine of the Show was awarded to the Villiera Monro Cap Classique 2007 sparkling wine from South Africa. The White Wine of the Show was the Xanadu ‘Reserve’ Margaret River Chardonnay 2010 and the Red Wine of the Show was the Akarua Central Otago Pinot Noir 2010. Though South Africa, New Zealand and Argentina each took 4 trophies, with Australia awarded 3 and Chile one, it was Australia that was adjudged Nation of Show.