‘Surprise’ $6 winner in wine taste test
What a job - to taste-test more than 1000 wines.
Shame it wasn't us.
Instead, the enviable task was given to actual experts who had the privilege of sipping, sucking and swirling an array of wines to give you the best under and over $20.
And let's just say they did a pretty good job considering one of them to top the list is a mere $5.90.
The 12 pros tasted the wines over four days, under full show judging conditions, grouping them by style and price to help make it easier when picking out the best at reasonable prices.
The judging panel was composed of wine experts and buyers, as well as Wine Merchants from Dan Murphy's stores across the country.
And if you're wondering, yes, all entries were judged blind, which means that no information was provided to judges except the style of wine to minimise bias.
Gary Braidner, Dan Murphy's wine panel co-ordinator and Decoded Wine Awards judge, said lighter reds are now officially a thing.
Also, he had tasted close to 6000 wines in 2020 alone, so we trust him.
"We saw a great range of high-quality wines spread across many varieties and many regions in the Lighter Reds section," he told news.com.au
"The under $20 Lighter Red section finalists featured Sangiovese from Fowles in Central Victoria, Merlot from Franklin Estate in Margaret River and a deliciously light and bouncy Barossa Grenache from Z Wine."
A full list of the categories and winners are below.
$5.90 WINE WAS THE BIGGEST SURPRISE
But he said the biggest surprise to come out of the judging was the Minchinbury pinot noir which sells for just $6.
"Light, juicy, fragrant and genuinely tasting of pinot noir, the judging panel judged this 'blind' on two occasions and both times it scored very well."
He said they made contact with the winemaker to ask if anything special had been added into the Minchinbury.
"But, no, nothing special, just good winemaking, he humbly suggested."
As for the Decoded Lighter Reds over $20 finalists, Mr Braidner said they featured a "cracking" variety such as a Sangiovese from Coriole, an old vines Grenache called Sandmine and a "wicked" tempranillo from Steve Pannell.
"But it was the pinot noirs that stood out, especially the winner, from Martinborough, NZ, the Te Kairanga John Martin pinot noir 2019."
He described it as a classic "iron fist in velvet glove" style.
"This had a massive wow factor and represents a bargain at under $50," Mr Braidner told news.com.au
For all you chardy fans, you will be pleased to know the Dan Murphy's Decoded judging was completely dominated by chardonnays in both the under $20 Fuller White class and the over $20 Fuller White class.
"Interestingly, the wines came from all over the place - Margaret River, McLaren Vale, Yarra Valley, Tasmania, as well as New Zealand where the eventual winner of the over $20 section, Kumeu River Estate Chardonnay, was produced," a very excited Mr Braidner told us.
At the lighter, citrus end of the chardonnay spectrum was the Devil's Corner from Tasmania with Mr Braidner saying the winner of the under $20 section is "well worth a try".
"If you'd like to explore a big 'worked style' have a look at the Church Road Chardonnay. If you are looking to put high-quality chardonnay down for a few years the Penfolds Reserve Bin A is well on the way to being a classic."
'DON'T BE A SNOB'
Andrew Shedden, Dan Murphy's head of Fine Wine and chair of judges, has straight out advised Aussies "not to be snobs" and pick up a bottle of Aussie bubbles.
"Australian sparkling is genuinely world class and it's incredible value compared to champagne," he told us.
He also said the Tassie sparkling is "undoubtedly the king".
"Rosé is so much more than just a simple summer wine. The diversity of rosé style and the quality made by Aussie winemakers such as De Bortoli is outrageously good now and just getting better all the time. Watch out Provence rosé."
So, if we have taken anything away from this, it's to just stock up on the $6 Michinbury pinot noir - then again, you can't really go wrong with any of the wines under $20.
Originally published as 'Surprise' $6 winner in wine taste test