DESSERT wines, which are often dismissed by many wine snobs as "stickies", are winning acclaim at their own wine show in the NSW Riverina.
And the International Sweet Wine Challenge, held in Griffith for the past five years, could soon be moved to a capital city in a bid to win over more palates.
The challenge, for non-fortified sweet wines, is held each spring in conjunction with the Riverina Wine Show.
Wine show manager Stuart McGrath-Kerr said transferring the challenge to "the city" was part of the longer-term plan for its future.
Mr McGrath-Kerr said the focus of the challenge was on full-bodied fruity styles of sweet, mostly botrytis wines.
But the challenge also includes classes for "floral" styles and ice wines, more commonly produced in cool climate regions.
This year's gong for Sweet Wine of the Year was awarded to Yalumba for its FSW8B Botrytis Viognier 2009.
Created by winemaker Peter Gambetta from grapes harvested in mid-May last year at the Wrattonbully vineyard, the wine also won the trophy for best young sweet, other varieties and blends.
Other trophy winners were: Saddlers Creek 2008 Botrytis Supreme Semillon (best mature sweet white, semillon predominant), Lillypilly 2002 Noble Blend (best mature sweet, other varieties and blends) and Lillypilly 2002 Noble Sauvignon Blanc (best sweet white from the museum class, 2006 and earlier).
The 83 entries in 11 classes were judged by Lester Jesberg, Ben Edwards and Simon Nunns, who awarded nine gold medals, six silver and 25 bronze.
Judges also spent three days assessing the 788 entries in the 2010 Riverina Wine Show, now in its 37th year.
They awarded 47 gold medals, 59 silver and 211 bronze.
The 21 trophy winners announced last week included De Bortoli Emeri Sparkling Chardonnay Pinot Noir (best popular premium sparkling), Barwang Estate 842 Chardonnay 2009 (best one-year-old chardonnay, best dry white and best still wine of show), Evans & Tate 2007 Redbrook Cabernet Sauvignon (best dry red) and McWilliam's Wines (most successful exhibitor).
The Riverina -which is home to large-scale family wineries including Casella, De Bortoli, McWilliams, Warburn, Nugan and Westend - produces 60 per cent of wine grapes in NSW and could well emerge from the industry restructuring as the biggest wine producing area in Australia.