Wine Industry Newsletter

Alternative varieties

Judging at Geographe Wine Show

Judging in progress at the 2017 Geographe Wine Show
Judging in progress at the 2017 Geographe Wine Show

At this year’s Geographe Wine Show, judges were presented with 16 unique wines produced from 13 different varieties grown at the alternative variety evaluation and demonstration block at Harvey Agriculture College.

The wines were made by Research Officer Richard Fennessy at the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development’s (DPIRD) Bunbury wine laboratory.

Richard produced small scale batches (4.5 – 24L) utilising commercial winemaking techniques to optimise varietal expression.   

The wines were judged in a unique class and the judges were not provided any information, other than they were made from an evaluation block near Harvey.

The judges were asked to describe the wines and score them.

2017 Geographe Wine Show: judges summary of alternate varieties

Variety (whites)

Score Description
Pignoletto (sparkling)


Citrus and stonefruit aromas/flavours, zesty acid and textural.
Gruner Veltliner 16.0 Apples, pears, tropical and herbal notes on the aroma. Lime, pithy, white nectarine flavours with a tight acid structure.


16.3 Vibrant lemon floral, mouthwatering acidity, citrus zest, green apple and textural.
Vermentino 16.4 Lime, lemon thyme, melon and floral aromas. Lively lime citrus with peach structured with chalky tannins.
Fiano 16.9 Lime, green tropical fruits and floral. Zippy and zesty with savoury textural elements and persistence.

Savagnin Blanc

17.1 Stonefruits, florals and saline characters on the nose. Orchard fruits, spice, citrus and savoury elements on the palate.
Arneis 15.8 Pear, peaches and mineral aromas. Crisp, bright with citrus and melon flavours.
Scheurebe 17.4 Pretty nose with exotic Asian fruits, florals and stonefruits. Bright acidity, fleshy and juice with white fruits, florals and tropical fruit flavours.
Variety (reds) Score Description

Dolcetto (rose)


Strawberry, rockmelon, floral and pear aromas. Crunchy acidity, chalky texture with red berry and pear flavours.

Sciacarello (rose) 14.9

Complex, savoury, spice and red berries with chalky phenolics.

Dolcetto 16.4 Perfumed, red fruits and spice with soft refined tannins.
Sciacarello 16.4 Savoury, melon, strawberry, spice and leafy aroma. Velvety tannins, savoury palate with melon and spice flavours.
Graciano 16.3 On the nose pepper, smoky, red fruits and plum. Fine soft tannins well concentrated with red berries and pepper flavours.
Tannat 16.1 Red and black berries, currants, floral and spice. Balanced grippy tannins flavours of spices, red and dark fruits.
Saperavi 16.9 Aromas of dark fruits, liquorice and plum. Concentrated palate with big gravelly tannins, forest fruits, spice and persistence.
Carmenere 17

Complex nose of pepper, violets, plum and herbs. Cherry, spice and savoury flavours supported by fine velvety tannins.

Workshop series

All Western Australian regional wine industry associations were invited to express an interest in hosting presentations of the 2017 alternative wine varieties. 

DPIRD Research Officer Richard Fennessy recently conducted workshops in Geographe and the Great Southern.

The first workshop held in Mt Barker on 24 October was attended by 12 local producers.

Richard said that the group was very interested to discuss which varieties would be most suitable to grow under local conditions that produce wine styles readily accepted by the market. Of the 13 varieties tasted, Gruner Veltliner and Dolcetto were the most preferred based on these criteria.

Participants at the alternative variety workshop held in Mt Barker
Participants at the alternative variety workshop held in Mt Barker

Richard presented the same workshop to a group of Geographe producers on 30 November.

The final workshop is scheduled for 23 January 2018 in Margaret River (see ‘Future events’ for full details).

 For further information contact Richard Fennessy, Research Officer on +61 (0) 9780 6219.