The Eltham and District Wine Guild is passionate about promoting the art of Country Wine Making and its appreciation.


Check out our easy to read and practical Country Wine Making guide.  

Our monthly meetings include a Country wine segment where we focus on its making and appreciation using the unique Eltham method of evaluation and judging.

Country Wine appreciation and judging
Written by Greg Martin
Friday, 19 November 2010 12:07

The EDWG has developed its own unique method of guiding a new or an experienced palate through the adventure of tasting and then capturing your impressions of a Country wine.
The EDWG Country Wine judging sheet will help you to identify and articulate key aspects of County wine evaluation.

Country Wine Judging.  
Written by Greg Martin
Thursday, 10 June 2010 05:56
Country Wine Review Committee (CWRC)

Committee: Greg Martin(Convenor), Harry Gilham, George Wright, David Hart and Tim Ross.
Report Prepared by: Greg Martin

Recommendations: Country Wine Judging.

1. Hybrid Class.
2. Frankston Country Wine Judges.
3. Senior Country Wines Judge.
4. Tasting Table.
5. Combine Dry & Sweet classes.
6. ‘Tick-the box’ Judging Sheet.
7. Judging comments.
8. The Entrant’s Message.
9. An “Experimental Class”.
10. Judging Guidelines.

1. Hybrid Class.
Recommendation: A new Hybrid Class be trialled at the 2010 Wine Show.
A Hybrid Class is defined as a combination of grape and country wine base material, examples could include:

• Shiraz + Plum + Spices
• Cabernet + Blackcurrant + Plum + Blackberry
• Merlot + Mulberry (Italy) + Plum
• Riesling + Lemon + Lime + Flowers
• Sauvignon Blanc + Gooseberry + Flowers
• Pinot + Strawberry and Raspberry

Action 1: Add a Hybrid Class to the Show package.
Action 2: Specify that Entrants mark on the wine label the ingredients by percentages, e.g. Chardonnay 90%: Feijoa 10%

2. Frankston Country Wine Judges.
Recommendation: Extend an invitation to country wine judges from the Frankston Wine Guild.
Mr Chris Myers knowledge and experience in the country wine field is of the highest level and his inclusion will be a valuable addition to the judging team in 2010. The addition of non-Eltham judges in the area of country wine will also give the judging panel a wider scope of experience and expertise.

Action 3: An invitation is extended to Mr Chris Myers.

3. Senior Country Wines Judge.
Recommendation: The Appointment of a Senior Country Wines Judge.
Country wines can have a multitude of base materials and is a complex task to assess. Some ingredients are rare and obscure. It is recommended that a senior country judge is appointed to act as a support to the other country wine judges.
This judge may or may not have a role in judging individual country wine classes.
This judge will take on a roving role whereby they can be invited to assist with difficult entries, help with the resolution of disagreement and validate medal and near-medal wines.
This process will also help justify the Guild's comprehensive processing of entries to Entrants.
This role has no jurisdiction over the grape judging.
It is recommended that the first Senior Country Wines Judge in 2010 be Mr Harry Gilham.

Action 4: This role is further delineated by the Show Director.

4. Tasting Table.
Recommendation: It is proposed that an additional country wine tasting table be assembled at the wine show for various country wine judges, associates and stewards to practise the art of formal judging.
We need to empower our own members in the art of country wine judging and develop our own standards of excellence. This table could be organised by the senior judge.

Action 5: The Logistics Working Group provide an additional tasting table.
Action 6: This table could be over-seen by the senior country wines judge.

5. Combine Dry & Sweet Classes.
Recommendation: Combine dry & sweet style classes into single fruit-type classes.
Presently a single fruit can be spread across different classes both dry and sweet. We would like to taste the same fruits in the same class as per the Frankston Wine Guild’s lead.
We request that the entrant record the Specific Gravity on the entry label then the judges can taste in order of S.G.

Action 7: Reduce the sweet and dry categories into a single classes.
Action 8: Specify the need for S.G. to be recorded on the label of the entry.

6. "Tick-the-Box" Judging Sheet.
Recommendation: The use of a ‘tick-the box’ judging sheet for country wine.
We intend to propose a new judging sheet for country wines to present to the wine show committee.
The use of this tool in the 2010 show is restricted as a resource to assist judges compile the usual set of judging comments which are recorded in the show results booklet. These sheets will be trialled and not given to entrants for the trial year.

Action 9: Create a ‘tick-the-box’ country wine judging sheet.

7. Judging Comments.
Recommendation: Judging Comments need to be constructive, substantial and no lower than 13.0 points.

As a general approach, the judging comments need to be constructive. Comments need to be substantial in quantity so as to justify the entrants fee. A single line comment is unsatisfactory.

A problem wine to have the lowest score of 13/20, no wines are to be judged as less than this number. Judges that forget this can have the score risen to this score by the wine show administrators.

Action 10: Judging sheets need to be proof-read prior to the recording process for the show results booklet.

8. The Entrant’s Message.
Recommendation: Entrants are given the ability to add a message with their entry.

We wish to allow Entrants the ability to pass a message to the judge that helps define their wine, e.g. for an obscure base material like Balm of Gilead, an Entrant may describe the shrub’s leaves and its aromatic properties. This is Harry’s “Telegram Idea”; a maximum of 25 words.

Action 11: This message needs to be added to the judging sheets.

9. An "Experimental Class".
Recommendation: Create an “Experimental Class” in the Wine Show.
Experimentation of wine making is to be encouraged at all costs.
To encourage the weird and the wacky entries like the sardine liqueur and the wine jelly a new “experimental class” could be considered. Though technically these can be squashed into existing classes, these “frontier” types of entries go against the spirit of existing classes and deserve their own new class.

Action 12: Create an experimental class.

10. Judging Guidelines.
Recommendation: Begin the formulation of judging guidelines for C-Wine classes.
Each country wine class has a host of factors that can indicate quality and these can vary for each class, for instance, judging clarity for a one year old meade is more relaxed when compared to a three year old meade and the flavour intensity for vegetable wine is not expected to be as high as we would expect as per a plum wine. This is a long term research and compilation process.

Action 13: A long term project requiring successful winemakers, senior judges and further research.

Last Updated on Saturday, 12 June 2010 02:23

  • The Hybrid Class Proposition   
    Written by Greg Martin
    Saturday, 22 May 2010 12:59

    Greg Martin has been the managing director of Liquid Assets Wine Storage based in Tullamarine, for the last 8 years. In this role he assesses and recommends wines to domestic collectors and oversees buyers, educates, conducts premium wine tastings and writes about wine. Qualifications include: the wine judging program at the Australian Wine Research Institute in Adelaide, Grad. Dip. Wine and Wine Appreciation at La Trobe University, WSET Level 3 and has completed a Masters degree in Wine at the University of Melbourne.

    The Guild is grateful for his continuing advice and valuable assistance.


    To the Honourable Harry Gilham, the Senior Judge and Master Country Winemaker, Mr President, Mr Secretary and the Distinguished Committee, Misters Hart, Myers and Woods from the Frankston Wine Guild Realm, Madam Winemaker of the Year Myrna, our perennial champion Vinko, Mr Nettles George, Mr Feijoa Henri, Ms Burnt Orange Helen, Mr Plum Wally and distinguished elders Berries Helmet, Rhubarb Tim, Quince Neil, Malted Barley John O’Cal & Roma and that other bloke that I have forgotten in this moment and all Guild members (you know who you are) please consider my most humble proposition for your rumination.

    The Proposition:

    Solemnly, Solemnly I say to you that a new Hybrid Class be trialled for the next two wine shows. This class will combine Country-fruit material with Grapes and be forever more be known as the Hybrid Class.
    Implementation Option 1:
    I have include some characters that are sought after in the below varieties. These could be fermented together directly or blended at a later stage.

    Plum + Spices.
    Blackcurrant + Plum + Blackberry + Tobacco Leaf.
    Mulberry (Italy) + Plum.
    Lemon + Lime + Flowers.
    Sauvignon Blanc
    Gooseberry + Flowers.
    Strawberry + Raspberry + Spices.
    Pinot Gris
    Chenin Blanc
    Melon + Feijoa.
    Implementation Option 2:
    Make up your own.
    Seek the glory of the Guild naming a style in your name.
    I give you the following reasons in the affirmative.

    Argument No. 1: Make Something Spectacular.
    Given life’s short embrace, one should always begin a winemaking session with a trembling hand with the thought that one is about to make the most extraordinary wine, the wine of a lifetime, a most illumination sensory experience that will stun the wine world; a cause for great celebration and reason for dear ones to raise their expectation of your potential. Once this wine is inhaled and partaken, the world will know you are something special, a cut above, a lofty personage, you are … a hybrid winemaker. I put it to you all that the beauty of Country Wine can elevate grape wine to this Spectacular Place.

    Argument No. 2: Combat the Forces Against the Amateur Winemaker.
    When watching the wine judges at the Shiraz and Cabernet tables I get the distinct impression that they yearn (yes yearn) to give more medals but alas find it very difficult to do so and I believe the cause is twofold. Firstly, the Amateur does not have the timeliness nor the equipment to do the various chemical tests to ensure optimal results (because we are working for our daily bread) plus we are scrounge for grapes that are not overly flavourful, we get good cheap deals from struggling wine areas. If for instance, Cabernet grapes will not yield flavours of blackcurrant, blackberries, plums and spices you only have to “cross the wine guild floor” and talk to the Country Wine people to add directly into the wine these fruits and spices. Add these flavours directly, pump up our tired wines with country base material, go for the spectacular, go for Gold, go for the Hybrid Class.

    Argument No. 3: Because We Can. We have the Technology.
    Its strange that we haven’t tried this yet, aren’t we conventional … Let’s not try to “ape” the professional shows by always feeling like the poor wine show relations, let’s take control of our own fate and create something new, something that is distinctly “ours”. This Hybrid Class could be a good platform from which to experiment and who knows, we may discover some important styles.

    Argument No. 4: Rescuing a Bad Wine.
    This year I have a problematic batch of Nero d’Avola red wine, the grapes came from a hot region through a third party and we paid for breaking the first law of winemaking which is to check the quality of your fruit before you consider making wine from it. The sugars where down, acid was high and the seeds and stalk were a distinct, bright green. My thoughts of rescuing it wandered into the fields of country winemaking rather than conventional grape theory. I am thinking of sultanas and orange-blossom honey for more sugar and flavour, bananas as a fining agent and the addition of weight to the mid palate and a “teabag” of some spices which may include a touch of jasmine. This Hybrid Class could be the last chance for wines that are problematic or lets face it, really awful. A Hybrid Class is the last chance for the ordinary wine.

    Argument No. 5: ...Do Something Different.
    Be the first to discover a new style. It could be your signature wine, the wine style we put your name too, a wine which the Guild can credit to you for all time. Henri has brought Feijoa to the Guild and he will always be known as “the” Mr Feijoa and can be seen in Altona spraying neighbours with his hose as they attempt to take his fruit from his nature-strip, trees that he planted 35 years ago. Yes … greatness beckons.

    Argument No. 6: There are Precedents for the Meek and Fearful.
    I never liked this “because someone else does it” argument but here we go anyway. Celeste brought to my attention that Mulberries and Merlot are often combined in the Northern areas of Italy because they tend to ripen at the same time. Honey is combined with Grapes to form a Grape Melomel otherwise known as a Pyment Mead blend. What other precedent examples are out there?

    Argument No. 7: It can be Fun.
    At last year’s wine show two entries really tested the status quo, they were the Sardine Liqueur and the Wine Jelly. The Sardine tested the boundaries of a beverage as derived from plant derived sugar and the Wine Jelly tested the boundaries of texture of a drink, the twilight zone of an “eat” and a “drink”. Reactions of alarm, interest and giggles ensued from these entries. I am pro-experimentation and pro-giggles when it comes to these types of entries. It would be really fun to experiment with say, Blood Plums and Shiraz and Vanilla Pods. A Hybrid Class = Fun.

    A Caution:
    I would refrain from using those expensive wine barrels and potentially …. wrecking them since the chemistry of these combinations are unknown. Best to experiment on a small scale with the use of glass carboys.
    Beware of toxic base material for country wine. Old country wine books record toxic English plants but we are in the dark with Australian natives so I would avoid these in their entirety until knowledge of their safe use becomes available.

    The Action Plan:
    Perhaps to post on the website, give members time to digest and perhaps discuss at a meeting. For those opposed to the proposition show yourselves now g_d damn you! (lol)

    Your Most Sincere and Obedient Servant,
    Greg Martin
    Country Wine Committee.

    Last Updated on Friday, 28 May 2010 22:56

Country Wine Review Committee (CWRC) : Interim Report: No 1.   
Written by Greg Martin
Friday, 19 February 2010 11:15

Country Wine Review Committee (CWRC)
Interim Report: No 1.
Meeting: 15/01/2010
First Meeting of the CWRC committee.
Committee: Greg Martin(Convenor), Harry Gilham, George Wright,
Graham Scott, David Hart and Tim Ross.
Present: Greg Martin, Harry Gilham, George Wright.
Email Input: Tim Ross.
Prelim. Meeting: David Hart, Chris Myers (Frankston Wine Guild).
Meeting held at Edithvale; 05/01/2010.

Report Prepared by: Greg Martin

Terms of Reference

1. The Promotion of Country Wine Making.
2. Country Wine Judging.


Written recommendations to be presented to the main committee.
It is expected that some recommendations may be of interest to the Wine Show
Committee when it reforms for the 2010 wine show.

1. Interim reports to the main committee after each meeting.
2. A final report to be drafted by June 2010.

Schedule & Operation:

Three of Four meetings to take place prior to the final report.
Email submissions from committee members and other interested members will be acceptable.
The committee will trial until June 2010 and then its usefulness will be reviewed.
Greg Martin will prepare the reports.

Preliminary Recommendations.
1. The Hybrid Class discussion to be opened to the membership early in 2010.

The option to create a Hybrid Class whereby grape and country wines can be mixed or blended for example:

• Shiraz + Plum + Spices
• Cabernet + Blackcurrant + Plum + Blackberry
• Merlot + Mulberry (Italy) + Plum
• Riesling + Lemon + Lime + Flowers
• Sauvignon Blanc + Gooseberry + Flowers
• Pinot + Strawberry and Raspberry

Action: Greg Martin to write up an article in the affirmative for the Website to promote thought and discussion amongst the membership.

2. To extend an invitation to Chris Myers (Frankston Guild) to judge Country Wines.
His knowledge and experience has been validated and he would be a valuable addition to the judging team in 2010.
The addition of non-Eltham judges will also give the judging panel a wider scope of experience and expertise.

3. The Appointment of a Senior Country Wines Judge.

Country wines can have a multitude of base materials and is a complex task to assess; some ingredients are rare and obscure. It is recommended that a senior country judge is appointed to act as a support to the other country wine judges. It does not have any role with the grape judging.
This judge will not judge classes but take on a roving role whereby they can be invited to assist with difficult entries, help in the resolution of disagreement and validate medal and near medal wines.
This process will also help justify the Guild's comprehensive processing of entries to entrants.
It is recommended that the first Senior Country Wines Judge is to be Mr Harry Gilham.

Issues under consideration.

o Bulk buying a Country Wine Base material for Country Wine Making promotion.
o Increasing reinforcement / awards for Country Wines.
o The encouragement of experimentation in country winemaking.
o Review of judging sheets from Adelaide and Frankston Guilds.
o Should "Heritage Capture" be within the terms of reference?

Issues tabled for later consideration.
o Structuring country wine into monthly meetings.
o Website articles for country wine.
o Formulation of judging standards for country wine classes.
o The training of country wine judges.
o Single base material versus a mixture/blend.
o Combining dry & sweet style classes but adding SG.
o Judging panels instead of one judge.
o Code of conduct for country wine judges.

Last Updated on Friday, 28 May 2010 14:40   

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