Tag: Jimmy Watson Memorial Trophy
When the Yabby Lake Block 1 Pinot Noir 2012 won the 2013 Jimmy Watson Memorial Trophy at the Royal Melbourne Wine Awards for Best Red Wine it was a big deal. Awarded to the best Australian red from the previous vintage, the win marked the first time in the coveted trophy’s 52 year history that the judges had singled out a pinot noir.
But the result didn’t come as a complete surprise to the Chairman of Judges, celebrated Oakridge winemaker David Bicknell. He saw the win as proof of the “ground breaking” work that has been done in recent years to improve the quality of pinot noir in Australia: “The excitement we have seen in the last few years when looking at Chardonnay classes has seemingly caught on to both Grenache (and variations) and Pinot Noir.”
Owned by the Kirby family since 1998, Yabby Lake has established a strong reputation for its single vineyard pinot noir and chardonnay wines. Burgundian-trained chief winemaker and manager Tom Carson regarded his Jimmy Watson Trophy as “an exciting endorsement of not only our belief in the calibre our our special site, but also what the variety is capable of on the Mornington Peninsula as a whole.”
The Yabby Lake vineyard is located on a north-facing slope in the sub-region of Moorooduc on the Mornington Peninsula. The maritime conditions – lots of daily sunshine and cool sea nightly breezes – create perfect conditions for growing high quality chardonnay and pinot noir.
The team at Yabby Lake have long been fascinated in how subtle differences in terroir can lead to distinct characteristics in the wine. Block 1 and 2 pinot noir , for example, are less than 10 metres apart and planted to the same clone of pinot noir (MV6). Yet the wines are … Read the rest
Stylistically I see Margaret River cabernet at its best as intensely varietal, with blackcurrant and other dark fruits plus hints of capsicum and herbal overtones often describes as “bay leaf” or “seaweed”. While some drinkers weaned on cabernet from hotter areas regard capsicum and leaf characters as under-ripe, I disagree: they an essential part of high quality cabernet, with one proviso – that the tannins are ripe. Margaret River cabernet certainly has firm tannins in its youth, but they should be evenly mouth-coating and not grasp you around your lips and then reappear as a green, bitter finish. (Captivating Cabernet by Nick Bulleid MW, Gourmet Traveller Wine, June/July 2011)
Rob Mann, chief winemaker at Cape Mentelle, may not necessarily concur with Bulleid’s assessment of the attractiveness of herbal characters in Margaret River cabernet. Since joining Cape Mentelle in 2005, he has made significant changes both in the vineyard and the winery to minimise the herbaceous notes in the winery’s flagship cabernet sauvignon. As he told the Wine Spectator’s Harvey Steiman back in 2007: “The strong herbal, capsicum (bell pepper), bordering on eucalyptus and menthol flavors, is accepted in Australia as a regional trait. I want minimize that and go for ripe, more classical berry flavors.” (Getting the Green Out in Margaret River by Harvey Steiman, Wine Spectator, 18 October 2007)
Working with viculturist Ashley Wood, Mann has introduced new imported clones and rootstocks to create a broader spectrum of flavours in the wines, replanted vineyards at closer density to improve the flavour intensity of the grapes, and minimised as much as possible the use of artificial fertilisers.
In … Read the rest
When Nick Glaetzer’s Glaetzer-Dixon Family Winemakers MON PèRE Shiraz 2010 became the first Tasmanian wine to win the fabled 2011 Jimmy Watson Memorial Trophy at the Royal Melbourne Wine Show, it brought back memories of another equally historic win. Back in 1983, David Hoehnen, then of Cape Mentelle, won the trophy for the winery’s 1982 dry red claret. It was the first time a Margaret River region cabernet sauvignon had won the coveted award, which was first established in 1963 by Jimmy Watson’s family and friends to honour his legacy of promoting fresh, young Australian reds.
In a fascinating article on the history of the Jimmy Watson in the second issue of James Halliday’s Wine Companion magazine, Hoehnen told wine writer Jane Faulkner that winning the Jimmy Watson was not only life changing for Cape Mentelle but for the Margaret River region in general: “The most telling achievement of the award was not just about getting the name Cape Mentelle out and better recognised, which it did and that was wonderful for us, but more so it was critical Margaret River. From then on people took notice.” (“Just Rewards” by Jane Faukner, James Halliday’s Wine Companion, Feb/Mar 2012)
Only time will tell whether Glaetzer’s win will be equally as significant for his fledgling young winery and for Tasmanian shiraz in general. But the win has already generated a fair amount of publicity, with many commentators noting that for a Tasmanian shiraz to beat out 1,249 other young red wine entries is nothing less than extraordinary.
When it comes to red wine production, Tasmania is far better known for pinot noir than shiraz. All up less than five hectares of shiraz vines are planted in Tasmania, and as a whole Tasmania accounts for less than 1 per cent … Read the rest
I recently had the good fortune to attend a cocktail party at a beautiful harbourside Sydney mansion for the launch of the current release of the Wolf Blass luxury collection: the Gold, Grey, Black and Platinum labels.
The line-up of wines was excellent with the sublime Platinum Label Shiraz 2008 Grange-like in the complexity and depth of its bouquet. But the real highlight of the evening was the chance to listen to the entertaining musings of the very dapper 77 old Wolf Blass, who is still a roving international ambassador for the brand.
I went home with a copy of Wolf Blass’ biography, Wolf Blass: Behind the Bow Tie, by Liz Johnston. The book proved a fascinating read. Apart from providing a very entertaining history of a German immigrant generally regarded as “larger than life,” the book offered some very interesting insights into the Australian wine industry and Blass’ very important contribution to its development.
Blass’ business success is legendary. His winery, which began in a Barossa Valley tin shed in 1973, became Australia’s number one wine brand by value and volume in 2003. Today it one the jewels in the Treasury Estate (formerly Foster’s) portfolio with production in excess of 70 million bottles a year.
And by any standard, Blass is also one of Australia’s greatest marketers. The ingenious colour coding of the Wolf Blass range, for example, still sets the brand apart for the ease with which it guides consumer access to high quality products as various price points. Johnston describes Blass’ very German penchant for discipline and order, and indeed the clever branding of his wines reminds me of Mercedes Benz with its A to S Class series.
In a country famous for shooting down its tall poppies, Blass fearlessly embraced self-promotion, proudly wearing the “Australia … Read the rest