Can leading grape grower Peter Balnaves make it three in a row at next week’s Limestone Coast Wine Show? The back to-back winner of the highly coveted Arthur Hoffmann Trophy for Viticulturist of Best Wine of Show is remaining humble about the prospect of a trifecta, but as the vineyard overseer for some of the show’s strongest performers in Balnaves of Coonawarra and Pepper Tree Wines, the wine aficionados are rating him one to watch.
The Arthur Hoffmann Trophy is the wine show’s greatest honour, recognising the work that goes into producing the best grapes possible every vintage. Winners are given a bursary to travel overseas to research their craft, and Peter will share details of his trip to Bordeaux at next Thursday’s sell-out trophy presentation feast being held in a marquee on the lawns of Padthaway’s Longbottom Vintners.
“I was fortunate to go to the Vinitech-Sifel trade expo to see the latest vineyard machinery and technology innovation from around the world,” he explains, adding that the expo attracted about 45,000 people and featured 6.5 kilometres of exhibits. Peter also spent time at several prominent Bordeaux chateaux during his week-long visit. “Bordeaux is obviously a much bigger region with 100,000 hectares under vine, but there are also a lot of similarities to home with the dominance of cabernet, and the region’s relative isolation,” he says. “It was interesting to see what is happening there in terms of winemaking trends (with the big push towards fruit purity), market pressures and even media perception, so the wine show’s Viticulturist of the Year Award represents a great opportunity to see what else is going on and have a good look around.”
Wine show judging begins on Monday at the Coonawarra Hall, with the new-look panel set to sample and scrutinise 498 of the region’s favourite wines over four days. Entries fell just four bottles short of a record, reflecting the continued interest in the regional event which is now in its seventeenth year.
Guest international judge, Sarah Ahmed, is a first-time panel participant and says she is looking forward to the invaluable insight the show and pre-show visits will give her into regional strengths and trends.
“It will be fantastic to catch up having toured so many Limestone Coast GI’s in 2013 and, this time, to make my first visit to Padthaway,” she says. “I am keenly anticipating the Provenance Class given the Limestone Coast’s well-deserved reputation for producing highly age-worthy, terroir-driven reds.”