Last night the top 12 finalists were joined at POW Kitchen & Bandroom by the best in the industry to celebrate the eleventh annual Young Gun of Wine Awards.
Trophies presented were Wine Australia BEST NEW ACT, PEOPLE’S CHOICE, Ocean Eight WINEMAKER’S CHOICE and the Riedel YOUNG GUN OF WINE. These trophies were awarded to the people that make the wines, whilst the First Drop DANGER ZONE, also presented, is an award for a wine product.
The prestigious Riedel YOUNG GUN OF WINE was awarded to Michael Downer from Murdoch Hill in the Adelaide Hills. Downer was presented with his trophy by the 2016 winner, Josephine Perry of Dormilona in Margaret River. On receiving his award, Downer noted he was caught off guard and didn’t have a speech prepared. “The 2017 Top 50 is an awesome list of winemakers, and then I felt making the Final 12 was such an achievement. To now be titled Young Gun of Wine, and join a list of past winners that I consider to be some of the most admired winemakers in Australia, is an unbelievable honour.”
The PEOPLE’S CHOICE went to Peter Dredge with his Meadowbank wines – a newly launched label from a well-established grape supplying vineyard in Tasmania. The People’s Choice was decided at two public tasting events held in Sydney and Melbourne with Prince Wine Store. Dredge spoke of Meadowbank’s journey and the burgeoning wines of Tasmania. He then expressed his joy and gratitude, “We couldn’t be happier with the recognition from the people and consider this such an awesome start to Meadowbank’s new journey.
“Thanks so much to the young guns judges, sponsors and those who attended the People’s Choice events in Sydney and Melbourne. We love you!”
The Ocean Eight WINEMAKER’S CHOICE, voted by the twelve finalists, was awarded to John Hughes of Rieslingfreak. An ecstatic Hughes was jumping as he said, “This is the first time I have ever won a trophy! Receiving the vote of my peers, and fellow winemakers, means so much to me, and probably the most valued feedback and reward an individual winemaker could ever ask for.”
The Wine Australia BEST NEW ACT was taken out by Rob Mack from Aphelion, based in McLaren Vale. “It was an amazing experience to be part of this competition and to have our little wine label recognised by the judges as the Best New Act is beyond my wildest dreams. This is phenomenal kick start for our label.”
The First Drop DANGER ZONE going to the “most adventurous wine” was also presented on the evening, going to Brave New Wine’s 2016 “Wonderland” Botanical Riesling – a riesling infused with native botanicals, made in the Great Southern region of Western Australia. Collecting the trophy, Yoko Luscher-Mostert of Brave New Wine said, “It’s thrilling to be recognised for this wine which was an experiment for us. No other wine show in Australia would enable us to successfully exhibit our style of wines, which are a bit risky in winemaking approach and unconventional in style. It’s great to be recognised through Young Gun of Wine.”
Each of the finalists received a gift Riedel decanter at the awards ceremony, and Michael Downer, the Young Gun of Wine, won a Liebherr “Barrique” wine cellar.
These award winners were plucked from 200 winemaker candidates. A Top 50 was announced earlier this year, ahead of the Final 12, each in contention for the winemaker trophies. Of the final 12 producers, four included female winemakers, which is a wonderful result when a 2014 research report indicated women occupy only 8.8% of the “winemaker” titled roles in Australia.
The 2017 judges included Nick Stock (Gourmet Traveller WINE, et al) Mike Bennie (Delicious, et al), Emma Farrelly (State Building), Philip Rich (The Lucas Group), Pip Anderson (MONA), Josh Elias (Alquimie), Rory Kent (Young Gun of Wine Founder and Executive Style) and Josephine Perry (Dormilona, 2016 Young Gun of Wine winner).
Photos: James Morgan