Australia’s best wine for 2023

Victorian winery Yarra Yering’s Underhill Shiraz has won the top award at the National Wine Show of Australia for the second time in four years. The Yarra Yering 2021 Underhill Shiraz was awarded the Prime Minister’s Trophy for 2023 Champion Wine of Show, following the 2018 Underhill Shiraz vintage taking out the top gong in the National Wine Show in 2019.

Yarra Yering winemaker Sarah Crowe was presented with the award by Minister for Trade and Tourism Senator the Hon Don Farrell during a gala ceremony at the National Press Club of Australia.

Yarra Yering said it was “incredibly honoured” to receive the award.

“The National Wine Show of Australia has been a highlight on the Australian wine industry calendar since it began in 1975,” the winemaker said.

“With only the highest-awarded wines at qualifying Australian wine shows making it to the judging table, National Wine Show winners represent the best of the best Australian wines.”

Crowe added: “When I arrived at Yarra Yering in late 2013, the Underhill Shiraz was third wheel to the Dry Red No.1 and No. 2

“This allowed me the freedom to evolve this wine in a way that celebrated the vineyard’s unique beauty. We adopted a gentle approach in the winery that embraces fruit purity; you could say by choosing to interfere less we have been rewarded more.”

National Wine Show Chair of Judges Chatto described the winning wine as a perfectly pitched rendition of a great cool-climate shiraz.

“The wine stood out for its sublime fruit purity and wonderful balance. It’s a delicious wine that could come from no other place on earth,” Chatto said.

This year, Yarra Yering also won the Cabernet Blends Trophy for its 2021 Agincourt Cabernet Malbec. The winning shiraz, which won the James Halliday Red Wine of Show Trophy, narrowly edged out Deep Woods Estate’s 2021 Reserve Chardonnay for the top prize.

Best of the best

The Deep Woods chardonnay won the Len Evans Memorial White Wine of Show Trophy. The Margaret River vineyard also picked up the Sauvignon Blanc Trophy for its Deep Woods Estate 2022 Sauvignon Blanc.

Other notable wins include Bream Creek Vineyard’s 2019 ‘Old Vine’ Reserve Riesling, which won the Riesling Trophy, and Bleasdale Vineyards’ 2021 Second Innings Malbec, which took out the Red Varietal Trophy. Bleasdale also won the Shiraz Blends Trophy for its 2021 Broad-side Shiraz Cabernet Sauvignon Malbec.

Chatto oversaw a team of 16 of the country’s best wine adjudicators in determining the winning wine during three days of blind tastings.

“A surprise this year was the red varietal class being the second biggest of the show,” Chatto said.

“These newer to Australia varieties are fast being embraced by the industry and consumers alike. It’s a testament to their suitability to our largely hot and arid climate.

“We’ve seen a move towards lighter, brighter and more versatile wine styles. Not lacking in structure, but focused on intensity of flavour, instead of concentration, aligning strongly with two consumer preference these days. The quality of Australian wine has never been better. We are truly making wines that stand up on the world stage.”

National Wine Show Platinum Partner, leading drinks retailer Endeavour Group, said consumer demand was increasing for lighter, medium-style red wines.

“Pinot noir is driving this movement and is now comfortably our third-biggest selling red variety but there’s been a strong demand for grenache, gamay, tempranillo, sangiovese, nero d’Avola and other lighter style reds,” Endeavour Group Head of Fine Wine Andrew Shedden said.

“These crunchy, accessible red wines offer a lot of versatility, they’re highly palatable and really complement the huge food trend we’re seeing in Australia. These styles collectively account for around 20% of red wine sales and have seen more than a 60% increase in sales in the past five years.”

Endeavour Group was represented on the awards night by Dan Murphy’s GM Agnieszka (Agi) Pfeiffer-Smith. 

At Friday night’s announcements a special recognition award was made to Australia’s most respected wine critic, wine writer, vigneron and senior wine competition judge James Halliday, who has been a patron of the National Wine Show of Australia for more than 40 years.

“James has been a driving force behind Australia’s global recognition as a nation to be reckoned with when it comes to producing outstanding wines,” said National Wine Show Chair Andy Gregory.

“He has served as Chair of Judges several times in the show’s 48-year history and has been on our advisory panel since 1995.

“His stewardship has transformed the show into what is now widely recognised as the nation’s most important wine awards, one of few in the world whose federated model means only wines that have already won gold or silver medals in qualifying regional and city shows make it to the judging table.”

Trade Minister gives export update

As Australia continues to press for the resumption of wine exports to China, the winning wines at the National Wine Show are set to be highly sought after by international buyers.

“A win at the National Wine Show means increased sales and brand awareness for Australian winemakers,” National Wine Show chair Andy Gregory (above) said.

“Our catalogue represents a buyer’s guide to the best of the best Australian wines for domestic and international buyers, and we regularly hear from medal winners that they’ve sold out within days of a win.”

The Hon Don Farrell assured the winemakers in the room for the awards ceremony that he was determined to continue dialogue with the Chinese government to remove prohibitive tariffs on Australian wine.

Farrell said Chinese Commerce Minister Wang Wentao is a huge fan of Australian wine and he has been extended an invitation by the Trade Minister to visit the South Australian wine regions.

Farrell also urged winemakers to consider the huge promise offered by India as an export market. The first Australia-India Joint Dialogue on Wine was held in New Delhi earlier this month.

Under the Australia-India Economic Cooperation and Trade Agreement (ECTA) Australia now has greater access to the Indian market of 1.4 billion people, and one of the world’s fastest growing major economies,” Minister Farrell said.

“A serious window of opportunity has opened for our producers to move into an export market valued at over $24 billion in 2021, ahead many of our key competitors.

“It’s great that the Australian wine industry is taking the initiative to diversify, and get into this market early.”

2023 National Wine Show of Australia trophy winners

Prime Minister’s Trophy for Champion Wine of Show: Yarra Yering 2021 Underhill Shiraz

James Halliday Red Wine of Show: Yarra Yering 2021 Underhill Shiraz

Len Evans Memorial White Wine of Show: Deep Woods Estate 2021

Reserve Chardonnay Sparkling Trophy: House of Arras 2014 Blanc de blancs

White Varietal Trophy: De Bortoli 2022 Ti Amo Fiano

Sauvignon Blanc Trophy: Deep Woods Estate 2022

Sauvignon Blanc Riesling Trophy: Bream Creek Vineyard 2019 ‘Old Vine’ Reserve Riesling

Semillon Trophy: Tyrrell’s Vineyards 2019 Pokolbin Hills Semillon

Chardonnay Trophy: Deep Woods Estate 2021 Reserve Chardonnay

Rose Trophy: Pernod Ricard Winemakers 2022 Barose

Red Varietal Trophy: Bleasdale Vineyards 2021 Second Innings Malbec

Pinot Trophy: Bay of Fires 2021 Pinot Noir

Grenache Trophy: Willunga 100 2021 Smart Vineyard Clarendon Grenache

Grenache Blends Trophy: Stage Door Wine Co 2021 GSM

Shiraz Trophy: Yarra Yering 2021 Underhill Shiraz

Shiraz Blends Trophy: Bleasdale Vineyards 2021 Broad-side Shiraz Cabernet Sauvignon Malbec

Cabernet Sauvignon Trophy: Xanadu 2019 Cabernet Sauvignon

Cabernet Blends Trophy: Yarra Yering 2021 Agincourt Cabernet Malbec

Alternate Red Blends Trophy: Big Easy Radio 2020 Funtime Fountain Sangiovese Montepulciano 3

Fortified Trophy: Morris Wines Cellar Reserve Grand Muscat

Sweet White Trophy: Berton Vineyard 2019 Reserve Botrytis Semillon

The competition turbocharging Australian wine exports

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