2016 marks the tenth year of the Young Gun of Wine Awards.

Nick Stock, Rory Kent, Philip Rich, Josh Elias, Mike Bennie, Pip Anderson and Adrian Rodda gathered at Circa in April for the final round of judging to find Australia’s best young winemaker.

Chief judge Nick Stock noted on the evolution of the competition, “Just as the leading edge of Australian wine continues to evolve fast in all directions, we’ve expanded and refreshed the judging panel to draw on broad experience and varying backgrounds and we welcomed a record number of entries this year.

Young Guns of Wine 2016 judging at Circa“Judging this award has always been as challenging as it is thrilling and this year, our tenth anniversary, was the toughest and most rewarding ever. It was incredibly competitive to make the final round of 12.”

The confirmed finalists for 2016 are:

Brendon Keys, BK Wines (Adelaide Hills, SA)
Chris Tyrrell, Tyrrell’s (Hunter Valley, NSW)
Gilli & Paul Lipscombe, Sailor Seeks Horse / Home Hill (Tasmania)
Jasper Button, Commune of Buttons (Adelaide Hills, SA)
Joanna Marsh, Billy Button Wines (Alpine Valleys, VIC)
Josephine Perry, Dormilona (Margaret River, WA)
Marty Singh, Precipice (Yarra Valley, VIC)
Michael Downer, Murdoch Hill (Adelaide Hills, SA)
Richard Evans, Two Tonne Tasmania (Tasmania)
Simon Killeen, Simao & Co (Rutherglen, VIC)
Tessa Brown & Jeremy Schmolzer, Vignerons Schmolzer and Brown (Beechworth, VIC)
Yoko & Andries Mostert, Brave New Wine (Great Southern, WA)

Competition founder Rory Kent pointed out some of the key numbers: “2016 was our biggest field of ‘shortlisted’ winemakers to date. After the judges’ nominations round, we tasted around 100 wines from 50 invited winemakers to find the top 12. Amongst these there are eight first-time finalists and each of the five major wine states are represented.”

Pip Anderson Mike Bennie YGOW judgingNew panelist Mike Bennie described the uniqueness of the competition: “As a first timer on the inner sanctum of Young Guns of Wine, I was struck by its open weave nature of discourse that draws on everything from zeitgeist of Australian wine culture through to reverence of historical context for wine, and looks to an appreciation of experimentation yet at the same time embraces an understanding of ‘fine wine culture’.

“Diversity of entrants is striking; to be making exquisite wine yet have the weight of generational family responsibility on one’s shoulders, including winemaking duties, business acumen, vineyard understanding, and touchstones of marketing/sales, as say Chris Tyrrell of Tyrrell’s does, through to the graffiti-esque thrill of avant-garde approach from Andries Mostert of Brave New Wines, or Jo Perry of Dormilona, says something about relevance and currency of this excellent wine competition.”

Trophies are the “Wine Australia Best New Act”, “Ocean Eight Winemaker’s Choice”, “People’s Choice” and the “Riedel Young Gun of Wine”. Winners will be announced on July 1 following a presentation at the POW Kitchen and Bandroom.

Public events with all the finalists coming to Sydney (June 25) and Melbourne (June 30).

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Photos by James Morgan for Alquimie Edition 7 out in June 2016.

2016 YGOW judging at Circa Josh Elias