WINE: Test win earns judging spot

ACHIEVEMENT: Gwyneth Olsen took top place in the AWRI Advanced Wine Assessment Course.HUNTER-based McWilliam’s senior winemaker, Gwyneth Olsen, has won one of Australia’s toughest wine tests by the Australian Wine Research Institute and the Royal Queensland Food and Wine Show.

Gwyn, 30, who lives with her husband at Bellbird, was declared dux of the elite AWRI Advanced Wine Assessment Course in which 30 participants had to evaluate more than 320 wines under simulated wine show conditions.

The course was held in Adelaide last November, but Gwyn’s win was only announced last week. The annual event is designed to boost participants’ wine tasting and judging skills and includes lectures by AWRI staff, leading wine show judges, winemakers and journalists.

As a reward for being course dux, Gwyn will next month serve as an associate judge at the RQWS 2013 Brisbane Wine Show, which has Hunter winemaker PJ Charteris as its chief judge.

Gwyn holds a BSc in biochemistry and a post-graduate degree in oenology from the University of Adelaide. She has worked on vintages in France and New Zealand. She has judged at a number of shows around Australia and is looking forward to furthering her career as a wine judge.

Her role at McWilliam’s includes working on the Mount Pleasant, lower alcohol and New Zealand Essenze ranges. She has worked on four Hunter vintages at Mount Pleasant and earned praise for her 2011 Mothervine Pinot Noir, 2011 Mount Henry Shiraz-Pinot Noir and 2011 Leontine Chardonnay.

Gwyn said she was delighted to win the dux award and had learnt a lot from the AWAC program.

Advanced Wine Assessment Course coordinator Con Simos said Gwyn had shown great ability and deserved to be fast-tracked into the national wine show judging system.

Award on the vine for winery

THE Hunter Valley’s Andrew Thomas Wines is in the running for the Royal Agricultural Society of NSW President’s Medal.

The annual competition carries a $10,000 cash prize and the silver heritage President’s Medal and pits Sydney Royal Easter Show award-winning winemakers, cheese and dairy producers and fine food producers against each other.

The 2013 winner will be decided by a panel of judges who assess each of the six NSW, Victorian, South Australian and Queensland producers selected as finalists.

Two of the judges – ABC Radio presenter Simon Marnie and Scott Davenport, NSW Trade and Investment executive director of strategic policy and economics – visited Thomas Wines last month.

The boutique operation was nominated as a finalist by the Sydney Wine Show committee after winning two trophies and four gold medals at the 2013 judging.

The winner will be announced at a celebration dinner on Thursday, July 11, at Sydney Showground.

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