Monday, September 27, 2010

'Back to the future' approach reaps big awards

Some excellent results from the Gourmet Traveller Wine Magazine's Winemaker of the Year Awards on Friday Sep 24 - excellent that is if you believe it's time to get back to the future of Australian wine.

Robert O'Callaghan
The Winemaker of the Year gong was shared by the Wynns Coonawarra Estate team of supremely humble grape-treader Sue Hodder and quietly persuasive grape-farmer Allen Jenkins. Over the last decade these two have dragged Wynns back from the brink of blowsy sameness - overripe, overblown, soulless wines - and imbued Wynns with the ethereal elegance that marks out the best from this region.

The Len Evans Award for outstanding contribution went to Rockford's Robert O'Callaghan, who has been stubbornly ploughing the back-to-the-future furrow since the mid-1980s. I have described this enormously influential man elsewhere as the Barossa's philosopher-king: without him, a whole generation of the region's brightest and best winegrowers simply wouldn't have existed. Veteran Best's Great Western winemaker Viv Thomson - a finalist for the big gong - summed up Robert's importance well: 'He is who we are.'

And winner of the Wine Australia Medal ('best new talent') is Tom Shobbrook, making some stunning wines under his own labels - new interpretations of Barossa classics at Shobbrook Wines, and exciting, brave new bottlings at Didi Wine - as well as being part of the Natural Selection Theory crew.

Tom Shobbrook in his shed

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