4 June 2024

National Wine Show's champion trophy winner a flavour blast, say judges

| Ian Bushnell
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese with National Wine Show PM’s Trophy winner Michael Downer. Photo: Studio Vita.

An Adelaide Hills chardonnay described by judges as “an explosion of flavour on the palate” took out the nation’s top wine award in front of an audience including Prime Minister Anthony Albanese at the National Press Club this week.

Murdoch Hill’s 2022 Rocket Chardonnay won the National Wine Show’s Prime Minister’s Trophy for Champion Wine of Show, narrowly beating a Margaret River cabernet sauvignon.

Chair of judges Matt Harrop said the Rocket Chardonnay, from a family-owned vineyard in Oakbank, was a beautifully made wine that stood out from the first round of tasting through to the trophy judging.

“The feedback from all 12 judges was just how much flavour this wine has,” he said.

As winner of the Len Evans Memorial Trophy for White Wine of Show, the Rocket Chardonnay battled it out for the Prime Minister’s Trophy against the James Halliday Red Wine of Show, Devil’s Lair’s 2022 Margaret River Cabernet Sauvignon.

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Mr Harrop said the Devil’s Lair had everything you could want in a young cabernet – a lot of flavour, lovely colour, perfect aromatics.

“If you were going to say, ‘here’s an example of how good Australian cabernet can be’, you don’t need to go further than this wine,” he said.

Devil’s Lair ended the dominance of fellow Margaret River winery Xanadu, which has taken out the top cabernet trophy in the nation’s leading wine show for the past nine years.

The Prime Minister with red wine trophy winner Michael Hage from Treasury Wine Estates. Photo: Studio Vita.

To be eligible to enter the National Wine Show, wines must have won a gold or silver medal at one of 32 qualifying capital city or regional shows, meaning its winners have been through one of the most comprehensive wine assessment processes in the world.

This year, 952 wines representing 236 Australian wineries competed in the Canberra-based show, run by the Royal National Capital Agricultural Society.

Of the 23 trophy winners, eight were from South Australia, seven from Victoria, four from Western Australia, three from NSW and one from Tasmania.

Victoria’s De Bortoli Wines made the most trips to the podium, picking up the Shiraz Trophy for its 2022 Heathcote Handcrafted Shiraz; the Alternate Red Blends Trophy for its 2022 Ancient Soils Tempranillo Touriga; and the Rose Trophy for the De Bortoli 2023 Rose Rose.

Mr Harrop said the five wines competing for the Sparkling Trophy represented one of the strongest sparkling line-ups in the show’s nearly 50-year history.

“It’s unlikely we’ll ever see such a strong class again because a lot of the grapes that were going into sparkling are now being made into table wine. Sparkling can be more costly and time-consuming to produce as it needs longer in the bottle before going to market,” he said.

Among the sparkling finalists were three entries from Tasmania’s House of Arras, including the winner, the House of Arras 2015 Grand Vintage.

Mr Harrop said the varietal trophies were among this year’s most exciting classes, with the White Varietal Trophy going to an unconventional and daring French varietal never before seen in the national awards.

Winner Crittenden Wines’ 2018 Cri de Coeur Sous Voile Savagnin follows a traditional process from France’s Jura region in which wine is aged under a layer of yeast, allowing it to slowly oxidise.

The Red Varietal Trophy went to Bleasdale Vineyards’ 2022 Generations Malbec, in a class that saw entry numbers up 20 per cent on last year.

“The growth of the varietals classes reflects the evolution of Australian winemaking,” Mr Harrop said.

“With the impact of climate change, many winemakers are switching from more traditional styles such as cabernet and chardonnay to Mediterranean styles that need much less water and can thrive in the drier parts of Australia.”

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National Wine Show chair Andy Gregory said the 23 trophy winners, as well as the 684 wines that missed out on a trophy but won medals, represented the pinnacle of Australian winemaking.

“The National Wine Show shines a spotlight on the unique characteristics of Australian wines and the distinct regions in which they are made. It’s a celebration of provenance, authenticity and quality,” he said.

“The great news is that wines of this calibre are affordable – you can pick up some of this year’s trophy winners for under $20, with several others retailing for under $40.”

2024 National Wine Show of Australia trophy winners

Top trophies

• Prime Minister’s Trophy for Champion Wine of Show – Murdoch Hill 2022 Rocket Chardonnay
• James Halliday Trophy for Red Wine of Show – Devil’s Lair 2022 Margaret River Cabernet Sauvignon
• Len Evans Memorial Trophy for White Wine of Show – Murdoch Hill 2022 Rocket Chardonnay

White wine trophies

• Blended White Trophy – Once & Well 2023 Frankie Garden Margaret River Classic White Blend
• White Varietal Trophy – Crittenden Wines 2018 Cri de Coeur Sous Voile Savagnin
• Chardonnay Trophy – Murdoch Hill Rocket Chardonnay
• Sauvignon Blanc Trophy – Saint & Scholar 2023 Graduates Sauvignon Blanc
• Semillon Trophy – Tyrrell’s Vineyards 2017 Vat 1 Semillon
• Riesling Trophy – Kirrihill Wines 2023 Regional Series Clare Valley Riesling
• Pinot Gris/Grigio Trohpy – Tempus Two 2023 Copper Pinot Grigio

Red wine trophies

• Alternate Red Blends Trophy – De Bortoli 2022 Ancient Soils Tempranillo Touriga
• Cabernet Blends Trophy – Evans & Tate 2021 Redbrook Estate Cabernet Merlot
• Shiraz Blends Trophy – Devil’s Baie 2022 Syrah+
• Grenache Blends Trophy – Lloyd Brothers 2022 Estate Blend GSM
• Red Varietal Trophy – Bleasdale Vineyards 2022 Generations Malbec
• Cabernet Trophy – Devil’s Lair Margaret River Cabernet Sauvignon
• Shiraz Trophy – De Bortoli 2022 Heathcote Handcrafted Shiraz
• Grenache Trophy – Chalk Hill Wines 2022 Alpha Crucis Old Vine Grenache
• Pinot Trophy – Giant Steps 2022 Applejack Vineyard Pinot Noir

Special trophies

• Fortified Trophy – Morris Wines Old Premium Rare Topaque
• Rose Trophy – De Bortoli 2023 Rose Rose
• Sweet White Trophy – Berton Vineyards 2019 Reserve Botrytis Semillon
• Sparkling Trophy – House of Arras 2015 Grand Vintage

Original Article published by Ian Bushnell on Riotact.

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