Australia's most important winemaker gongs were handed out on Friday night at the Park Hyatt in Melbourne. Gourmet Traveller WINE magazine devotes one issue every year to their shortlist for Winemaker of the Year and then, with many a drum roll, reveals the winner. Even to be shortlisted is viewed as quite an achievement.
The finalists for Winemaker of the Year 2010 were:
Jim Chatto Pepper Tree Wines, Hunter Valley
Virginia Willcock Vasse Felix, Margaret River
Viv Thomson and Adam Wadewitz Best's, Great Western
John Thomson and daughter Belinda Crawford River, Henty
Tim Adams Tim Adams Wines, Clare Valley
Tom Newton Hardy's, McLaren Vale
Sue Hodder and Allen Jenkins Wynns Coonawarra Estate, Coonawarra
Alex MacKay Collector, Canberra
And the winners were………..the highly respected Sue Hodder and Allen Jenkins of Wynns Connawarra (pictured), deemed by one of the judges Andrew Caillard MW to be 'the leading lights of Coonawarra's fine wine renaissance'. Chairman of judges was wine writer Peter Forrestal and other judges included Huon Hooke, Peter Bourne, Nick Bulleid MW and Sophie Otton.
The Len Evans Award for Leadership was presented by Len's daughter Sally Evans to that rock of the Barossa Robert O'Callaghan of Rockford.
The Wine Australia Medal for the up-and coming young winemaker, a highly significant award, went to Tom Shobbrook whose Shobbrook Barossa Valley wines do not seem to be available outside Australia yet. An omission that should surely be rectified. (16 Apr 2011 - In the UK these delightful wines are now available from www.thewinemakersclub.co.uk)
Gourmet Traveller WINE magazine (which, I should disclose, publishes my syndicated columns such as today's Familes v corporations in Australia) seems keen on links with the motor industry at the moment. Their annual winemaker awards were held this year 'in association with Wine Australia and the Škoda Superb' whereas, in order to produce the 50-page Langton's Classification of Australian Wine V that is given away with the latest Oct/Nov issue of the magazine, they have teamed up not only with Australia's leading fine-wine auctioneers Langton's, but also with Range Rover.
The Langton's Classification, a sort of form guide to investment-grade Australian wine, was first produced in 1990 and is revised every five years. The latest edition rates 123 of the Australian wines that perform best on the secondary market and has remained remarkably constant through the boom and bust of the cult wines that made such a short-lived impact on the US market. In a sort of antipodean reflection of Bordeaux's famous 1855 classification, the wines are divided into four categories, Exceptional, Outstanding, Excellent and Distinguished.
My Inbox has been twitching with messages that result from the awards and the classification all weekend. Jeffrey Grosset of Clare Valley, for instance, is particularly thrilled that his flagship wine, Grosset Polish Hill Riesling, has been upgraded to the Exceptional category, making it the only Riesling, and one of only three white wines so distinguished. See our tasting notes on the most recent releases, the 2010 Grosset Clare Valley Rieslings, via the tasting notes search.
There are 33 new listings in the 2010 Langton's classification, which comprises 58 Shiraz/blends, 40 Cabernet/blends, 10 Pinot Noirs and 15 white wines, all chosen on the basis of their auction performance, track record and volume of demand. Andrew Caillard MW commented about it, 'Langton's classified wines are Australia's enduring grand marques … individually they resonate a sense of place or voice of country; combined, they articulate Australia's place in the world of fine wine.'
For more information see www.langtons.com.au