10 June 2022

'It tastes like the country' Shiraz takes out top gong at National Wine Show

| Karyn Starmer
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Andy Gregory

National Wine Show committee chair Andy Gregory at the National Press Club. Photo: Samantha Taylor.

A Bendigo shiraz lauded as the unmistakable taste of Australia has taken home the nation’s top wine award at the National Wine Show of Australia.

The show has been a highlight on the Australian wine industry calendar since it began in 1975. With only the highest-awarded wines at qualifying Australian wine shows making it to the judging table, National Wine Show winners represent the best of the best Australian wines.

This year, an even more rigorous pre-qualification program was introduced. Only wines that had won gold or silver at one of 32 qualifying shows were accepted for judging, making it a more competitive, higher-quality show.

After a two-year break due to COVID, the winning wines from the delayed 2021 National Wine Show were announced in Canberra on Friday (20 May).

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Sutton Grange Winery’s 2019 Fairbank Syrah scooped the Prime Minister’s Trophy for Champion Wine of Show at the awards presentation dinner at the National Press Club, having also picked up the trophies for Best Shiraz and the James Halliday Red Wine of Show at the nation’s pinnacle awards event.

National Wine Show Chair of Judges David Bicknell described Sutton Grange’s trifecta-winning entry as a wine that couldn’t be mistaken as coming from anywhere else but Australia.

“It tastes like the country – like it’s grown and made in Australia,” Mr Bicknell said.

“It has depth of flavour, real aromatic qualities, complexity, length, and it’s beautifully balanced as well – all the attributes we look for in fine wine. It takes a skilful hand to do that and a good vineyard.”

Chris Smales and Steve Donohue

Champion wine of show trophy winner Sutton Grange’s Chris Smales with Endeavour Group CEO Steve Donohue. Photo: Samantha Taylor.

The Len Evans Memorial White Wine of Show was awarded to Cherubino’s 2020 Margaret River Chardonnay, described by Mr Bicknell as “the zeitgeist of modern Australian chardonnay”.

“The chardonnay and Riesling classes were fiercely competitive, and there was palpable excitement among the judges about the quality of the wines being assessed,” Mr Bicknell said.

Among the surprises in this year’s awards was Mudgee’s Robert Stein Winery 2021 Reserve Riesling winning the Best Riesling trophy.

“The Riesling category has traditionally been dominated by the Clare and Eden Valleys,” he said. “When we got to the top half-dozen Rieslings, there were six different regions at the table – some really beautiful wines – but the Robert Stein won the trophy. Most people don’t see Mudgee as an area that’s great at Riesling, so I think this win is awesome.”

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The Red Varietal Trophy was won by South Australia’s The Lane Vineyard’s 2021 Provenance Cabernet Franc. Mr Bicknell said Australian winemakers are becoming increasingly sophisticated at producing wines from hardier, European-style varieties suited to the changing Australian climate.

“In the past, there haven’t been enough varietals to have their own class, but we’ve seen some really good wines this year – a whole raft of different varieties. There was The Lane’s beautiful Cabernet Franc, Sangiovese, Tempranillo, and a very good Nebbiolo among them. Five golds ended up coming out of the red varietals class.”

Steve Donohue and Matt Buckham

Matt Buckham of Cherubino (right), white wine of show, with Endeavour Group CEO Steve Donohue. Photo: Samantha Taylor.

Despite the significant challenges facing Australian winemakers in the past few years, Mr Bicknell said the National Wine Show results were proof of the industry’s resilience.

“The list of winners includes winemakers from all corners of the country, who have done well with all sorts of varieties. Australian wine is in a good place and, despite what the industry has faced, you could argue it’s getting better. We’re adapting, and we’re doing it in clever ways.”

For a full list of the winners, visit the National Wine Show of Australia.

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