The collective favorite seemed to be the Mt. Difficulty Pinot Noir 2006 from Central Otago which one of my classmates picked up as an after thought because he liked the name!!! See, even we wine "experts" can be swayed by a good label or clever name. It had a lot of cherry fruit and a nice bit of funk and earth. It definitely was not what I expected from a wine from Australia. I'd expect a ton more fruit and less earth. Plus, for under $30, it was quite a find.
One other note - as I was tasting last night, I was reminded that I'm likely the only person in my class who likes the fruit forward "new world" style of the American, South American and Australian wines. I also love the funky, earthy "old world" style of the French and Italian wines. As I like to say, it's all about my mood and the food. Sometimes I want something restrained and austere, sometimes I want something big, fruity and simple. Unfortunately, the biggest drawback of my class is that the WSET has an old world bias as do many of the people in my class.
To that end, I sometimes find myself in the minority when tasting. I also feel that my class completely under represents wines from outside of France - and this is coming from a Francophile. My point is that I often hear friends or acquaintences say, "I don't know much about wines, but I know what I like." When all is said and done, this is the most important thing. If you like really oak-y Chardonnays or Merlot with large amounts of fruit, don't let the wine snobs like myself dissuade you. We're probably dealing with others who look down on our tastes.
Until the next sniff, sip or quaff,