2008 California-Aussie Shootout

Australia and the Unites States have a friendly rivalry that goes back many years.  Americans remembering their pioneering spirit respect and I think, envy the indomitable "We can do it" spirit of Australians.  The competition became quite newsworthy in 1983 when Australia won the much treasured America’s Cup from the U.S.  The United States had been the holder of the Cup for 126 years.  The America’s Cup is the most prestigious regatta and match race in the sport of sailing and the oldest active trophy in international sport.

And so the friendly competition continues…


Begin an Affair with these great wines tonight!

The results of The 2008 California-Australia Wine Shootout™ have finally been tallied, analyzed and collated. Over 200 wines were critically reviewed during October, November and December.  The finals were conducted on December 8, 2008 in San Francisco.  A panel of 14 wine professionals tasted the final round of the venerable California and Australian wines.  Affairs of the Vine, International Wine Review and Wine Radius orchestrated this comparative judging.

California took top honors in six of the nine categories and Australia in three. Australia prevailed in the Chardonnay, Other Whites, Syrah/Shiraz categories and California won top honors in Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Red Blends, Other Reds, Sauvignon Blanc, and Dessert categories.

Australia was also the big winner in the Bang for Your Buck Wines -  (17 wines selling for under $15 that received heartheartheart or heartheartheartheart  from our panel) – 12 are Australian!

Top Scoring Wines by Varietal Category:

Eagle Vale 2004 Whispering Lake Chardonnay
Margaret River Western Australia, $40.00
The nose is intoxicating…The finish everlasting.
heartheartheartheart   (92)

Sauvignon Blanc
Renegade Winery 2006 Sauvignon Blanc
Alexander Valley, $21.00

heartheartheartheart   (90)

Other Whites      
McWilliams Hanwood Estate 2006 Riesling
Southeastern Australia, $12.00
…Focused and crisp. Well balanced. Good with oysters or mussels. Yum!
heartheartheartheart   (93)   

Cabernet Sauvignon
Ecluse Wines 2006 Lock Vineyard 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon
Paso Robles, California, $28.00
… The finish is long and delicious. Impressive!
heartheartheartheart   (94)   

Thomas Henry 2005 Merlot
Napa Valley, California, $9.95
An elegant and subtle wine with a nice finish.
heartheartheartheart   (92)   

Red Blends
Écluse Wines 2006 Ensemble - 47% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35% Petit Verdot, 18% Merlot
Paso Robles, California, $38.00
heartheartheartheart   (93)   
When the oak fully integrates, this wine will be amazing!

Shiraz Australia – 2 wines tied for first place
Eagle Vale 2004 Whispering Lake Shiraz
Margaret River Western Australia, $32.00
heartheartheartheart   (93)   
Nicely balanced. Concentrated. Well done!

Wakefield 2006 Shiraz
Clare Valley, Australia, $16.99
heartheartheartheart   (93)
Sexy and intriguing…

Other Reds
Thomas Henry 2006 Zinfandel
Russian River Valley, California, $9.95

The mouth feel is sweet and lush.
heartheartheartheart   (91)   

Novateur 2007 Fortress Vineyard Semillion-Sauvignon Blanc Blend
Red Hills, Lake County, California, $20.00

A charming wine…Great with a Poire William tart.
heartheartheartheart   (91)


Shootout Tasting Panel
The panel of judges included the following wine professionals: Debra Del Fiorentineo, Co-founder and Director of Wine Radius, Sommelier, CWP, CSW, Wine Educator; Michael Potashnik, Publisher of International Wine Review; Bob Cina, Chef at Le Club San Francisco; Susan Darwin, Founder, California Boutique, Wine Industry Business Development Consultant: David Heppberger, Wine Consultant, Menlo Circus Club; Von Hurson, Wine Writer - Swirls of Wisdom & The Petaluma Post, KSAV Radio; Danielle Kuzinich, Sommelier at Grand Café, San Francisco; Ellen Landis, Sommelier/Owner of Landis Shores Ocean Front Inn, Half Moon Bay; Ken Landis, Chef/Owner of Landis Shores Ocean Front Inn, Half Moon Bay; Nikitas Magel, Publisher Viniktas, Wine Writer; Lauren Moskovitz, Affairs of the Vine and enrolled at University of Adelaide, Master of Wine Business program; Andreas Papaliolios, Wine Consultant; Sid Sall, Wine Director, Great Chefs of Marin; Isaac Shumay, Chef; Rhia Shumway, General Manager at Le Club, SanFrancisco; Tim Teichgraeber, Wine Writer; Walter Vornbrock III, and Barbara Drady, Affairs of the Vine’s Chief Wine Evangelist, wine writer, educator.

Our wine review process is unique within the industry as it utilizes the following approach:

The process and manner utilized by Affairs of the Vine for assessing and judging the entries is unique within competitions in that it employed the following procedures:

The tasting panels were comprised of a diverse range of wine industry professionals from varying disciplines including restaurant trade, winemakers, wine writers, wine educators, and wine consultants.

All wines were tasted blind.  How could you ever do it differently?

All wines were tasted without reference to producer, appellation or price.

Each wine was judged and reviewed on its own merit.

The wines were rated using a 100 point scale. The wines were placed into flights and evaluated by a team of judges. The top scoring wines selected by the team of judges were then submitted to the entire panel for review.
All wines reviewed indicate a numerical score and are recommended from the heartwith the following references:



heartheartheartheart =  Love at First Sip 
heartheartheart =  An Affair to Remember 

This year, we have chosen to only publish the results of the best wines we tasted.  All of the wines reviewed and scored received high praise from our panel. Click here to view the complete results.

If you see anything in these results which you think is of interest or noteworthy, we would love to hear from you and we will put as many comments up on our website as possible. And remember, trust your own palate. It's the only one that matters.