Celebrating the Gourmet Traveller Wine Winemaker of the Year awards in Adelaide

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David Bicknell receiving the Winemaker of the Year Award 2017

Twenty years ago, Clare Valley Riesling genius Jeffrey Grosset was the first recipient of the Gourmet Traveller Wine Winemaker of the Year award. That was back in 1998. And on Friday night at at glitzy gala dinner in the National Wine Centre in Adelaide, the great and the good of Australian wine gathered to see David Bicknell of Oakridge in the Yarra Valley receive the gong. Also awarded were Michael Downer of Murdoch Hill (he got the Young Winemaker Medal), the Perpetual Viticulturist of the Year Mark Walpole of Fighting Gully Road, while Mark Lloyd of Coriole got the Len Evans Award. There were also seven other winemakers who were finalists. It was a lovely evening, and it was quite special to be part of this cohesive, tight knit community of Australian winemakers for the evening.

Michael Downer, young winemaker of the year

Michael Downer, young winemaker of the year

We got to taste 10 wines through the course of the evening: these were made by finalists and winners, and as I’m a total geek, I took notes. It was a really interesting selection, and representative of the great diversity in Australian wine. It’s good to see the established classics mixing shoulders with the young guns, and I think the judges are doing a great job of holding the old and the new in happy tension with their choices.

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West Cape Howe Riesling 2017 Mount Barker, Western Australia
Very linear and fresh with lively, pithy citrus fruit and real precision. Dry but with some texture. 92/100

Wines By KT Peglidis Vineyard Riesling 2016 Clare Valley, Australia
Kerri Thompson is a Riesling specialist, and there a lovely purity to this with delicate, crisp, fine citrus fruit. Dry and expressive. 92/100

Fighting Gully Road Chardonnay 2015 Beechworth, Victoria, Australia
I was impressed by this youthful but fine Chardonnay with it’s mealy, spicy personality. Linear and elegant with nice finesse. Supple and expressive. 93/100

Oakridge 864 Chardonnay 2015 Yarra Valley, Australia
Dave Bicknell is skilled at playing with reduction and making it work, and this Chardonnay is very fine, linear and pure with real elegance and a hint of matchstick reduction that frames the pure citrus fruit really well. Has a hint of pithiness on the finish. Will age well. 94/100

Murdoch Hills The Ridley Pinot X Three 2017 Adelaide Hills, Australia
A blend of Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris and Pinot Meunier. Beautifully aromatic with fine, supple red cherry notes. Very silky and well defined with lightness and elegance, as well as a lovely fruit presence. So silky, fine and delicious. 95/100

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Ochota Barrels Green Room 2017 McLaren Vale, Australia
I love this wine. My second time with it this week. Very fine, supple and expressive with juicy red cherry and raspberry fruit. Good acid and impeccable balance. 94/100

Stonier Merron’s Vineyard Pinot Noir 2015 Mornington Peninsula, Australia
Powerful, structured and spicy with nice weight and some spicy oak. Has lovely definition, and a bit of burliness, but it’s also fresh and quite elegant. 93/100

Lehmann Hesketh MK 02 Cabernet Sauvignon Shiraz 2015 South Australia
Cabernet from Coonawarra blended with Shiraz from Barossa. Very fresh and well defined with a gravelly edge to the blackcurrant and cherry fruit. There’s just a hint of mintiness, adding freshness. A lovely bright wine. 93/100

Bremerton Old Adam Shiraz 2013 Langhorne Creek, Australia
Very sweet, spicy and chocolatey, with hints of coffee and tar as well as a wall of ripe black fruits. Very rich and quite old-school in style. 91/100

Yangarra High Sands Grenache 2010 McLaren Vale, Australia
Dense and burly with rich, tannic black cherry and blackberry fruit. Has richness but also restraint, with a savoury twist. Peppery, firm and detailed. 93/100

Find these wines with wine-searcher.com

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