Wine awards honour Margaret River's best
Augusta Margaret River Mail - October 26 2023
The winners of the 2023 Langtons Margaret River Wine Show have been announced, with an intensive judging process culminating in a gala awards luncheon at the refurbished Lenton Brae Cellar Door on Friday.
Stella Bella Wines collected a trio of trophies for their Suckfizzle Chardonnay 2022, landing Best Chardonnay, Best White Wine, and the ultimate accolade, Best Wine of Show.
Stella Bella also capped off a remarkable Show by being awarded the Trophy for Most Successful Exhibitor.
"We are thrilled to have won four trophies," Chief Winemaker Luke Jolliffe said.
"Recognition such as this for our single vineyard Suckfizzle Chardonnay is a testament to the whole team."
This year marks the second time the Suckfizzle Chardonnay, from the wine region's most southern vineyard, has won the Wine of the Show trophy.
The Augusta vineyard is influenced by the prevailing Antarctic winds of the Southern Ocean and moderated by the warmth of the Blackwood River, creating wine of unique power and flavour.
"The passion in farming our land with care and precision, through to nurturing the wine from grape to bottle shows a very special and cohesive viticultural and winemaking team," Jolliffe said.
"We are incredibly fortunate. And how good is Margaret River Chardonnay?"
Judges assembled at the Margaret River HEART to assess a total of 631 entries from ninety-two exhibitors.
Fifty-two of the wines achieved gold medal status, earning scores of 95 points or higher on the 100-point scale.
An additional 141 wines received silver medals and 257 wines scored bronze medals, adding to an impressive medal strike-rate of over 71 percent for the region.
This year's competition boasted a judging panel of experts from across Australia, and the highly regarded Master of Wine, Richard Hemming from 67 Pall Mall in Singapore.
"This year's wine show has seen high expectations met and new benchmarks set," Chair of Judges Nick Ryan said.
"The star of the show has once again been chardonnay, further reinforcing the new reality that sees Margaret River dominate the conversation around where the world's best chardonnay is coming from."
Mr Ryan said the region's cabernet sauvignon remained strong "despite the challenging chickens of the 2021 vintage coming home to roost", saying it was "a testament to the viticulturists and winemakers of the region".
"The strong performance of semillon, sauvignon blanc and the blends thereof reminded us these styles remain really relevant here," he said.
And the Rosés? Well, that's a whole other story....suffice it to say Margaret River's reputation as a paradise for pink wines has grown even more.
- Nick Ryan, Chair of Judges
"And the Rosés?? Well, that's a whole other story....suffice it to say Margaret River's reputation as a paradise for pink wines has grown even more."
Margaret River Wine Association CEO, Amanda Whiteland said the seven Rosé gold medal-winning wines were judged 'in their natural habitat' at the beachside White Elephant Café in Gnarabup.
"The Rosé Trophy went to the McHenry Hohnen Chloé Rosé 2023, which was a wonderful accident given vigneron Murray McHenry OAM had generously sponsored new custom-tailored P. Johnson Pink Jackets for those that missed out since 2018 as well as for a future five-years," she said.
In addition to the wine honours, three special Excellence Awards recognising contributions to the wine industry were also presented.
The Viticultural and Sustainability Excellence Award presented by Cape Mentelle rewards a person's outstanding achievement, and this year it was awarded to Stephen Kirby, Group Vineyard Manager at Howard Park Wines.
Mr Kirby will receive a $3,000 travel and education bursary scholarship.
Cape Mentelle's Viticulturalist, Dave Moulton said, "This year's winner has worked across wine regions in South Australia, Victoria and Tasmania but has been a part of the Margaret River landscape for the past 13 years. With a passion for quality, efficiency, and sustainability, he is a clear communicator, a strong advocate for Margaret River and is well respected across the region."
The Cellar Door Excellence Award was won by Amanda Keady, Sales & Marketing Manager at Swings & Roundabouts who will receive a $2,000 education and training bursary from the MRBTA.
Georgina Harrison of Kaloorup Vineyard was honoured with the second John Tate Memorial Innovation Award, sponsored by Miles From Nowhere.
The award pays tribute to the legacy of the late John Tate and his contributions to the Margaret River wine industry.
Georgina's award recognised her innovative work and trials at several vineyards in the region, using copper mesh as an effective barrier against snails on grapevines.
She will receive a $5,000 bursary from Miles from Nowhere to further her innovation and encourage further innovative practices.