Adelaide Hills Ngeringa Vineyard’s Iluma Syrah 2021 has been crowned Australia’s best organic wine, securing the coveted Cullen Wines Trophy for Wine of Show, the top prize for Red of Show and a Gold Medal at the 2023 Australian Organic Wine Awards.
Hosted by Australian Organic Limited (AOL), the Awards, now in their third year, celebrate the unique wines and talented winemakers in Australia’s certified organic wine industry.
In total, 45 certified organic and biodynamic wine producers from 32 regions across the country submitted 211 bottles of the nation’s finest organic wines for judging in the Awards program.
The panel of judges was led by wine expert Mike Bennie and included Negociants Key Account Manager, Ramon Arnavas; Group Beverage Director at STK Group, Alexandra McPherson; and Australian Organic Wine Awards Associate Scholarship recipient Sophia Gannon.
Bennie said the quality of wines this year was impressive, with the Iluma Syrah boasting a wild streak, making it interesting, character-filled, complex and appealing.
“The Iluma Syrah reflects the new wave of Australian shiraz making, with a svelte, medium weight, red fruited, spicy and silky-textured red emerging, in superb balance with a great extension of flavour and very high drinkability,” Bennie said.
“All judges were impressed by its elegance and yet great energy. It’s a beautiful wine reflecting the exacting viticulture and cooler climate place from which it has come.”
Red wines proved the most popular entrants with 138 bottles judged, followed by 60 whites and 13 rosés, with 70 varieties of grapes showcased across the Awards reflecting the diversity of Australia’s certified organic wine industry.
A Gold Medal and Trophy for the Best Chillable Red was awarded to Barossa Valley’s Tscharke vineyard for their 2021 ‘A thing of beauty’ Grenache. The Tscharke stable is no stranger to the Awards program, having taken home the White of Show at the 2021 event.
The Best New Entrant Trophy and Gold Medal was awarded to Victorian winery, Carlei Wines, for its 2020 Carlei Estate Fruit Day Shiraz, which judges said would appeal to many with its choc-cherry taste and touches of alpine herbs.
Australia’s best organic white wine
Bringing home the White of Show was McLaren Vale-based Jackson Wine Estates’ 2022 Yangarra Estate Vineyard Blanc, produced from primarily French white grape varieties including Grenache Blanc, Roussanne, Bourboulenc, Clairette, Grenache Gris and Piquepoul.
Bennie described the wine as textural, intriguing and delicious.
“This is a white that is vibrant, has excellent length with nutty notes, yet encapsulates sweet and savoury fruit,” he said.
Margaret River’s 2022 Stormflower Vineyards Pet Nat, short for ‘pétillant naturel’, was awarded a Silver Medal and Trophy for Best Left of Centre Wine with judges saying it was a good example of the ‘naturally sparkling’ wine. Described as lively and vibrant, the pitch-perfect, easy-drinking wine is bright with bubbles and creamy, guava juice tastes.
Best budget-friendly organic wine
The 2022 Yalumba Gen Viognier won a Gold Medal and Trophy for Best Park Wine, meaning it was perfect for consumers who appreciate a nice tipple while enjoying a picnic in the park.
Produced by Hill-Smith Family Estates in South Australia, the white wine was described as generous in stone fruit character with some green almond savouriness in the mix. It also comes with a budget-friendly sub-$15 price tag.
AOL Chief Executive Officer, Niki Ford, congratulated the 2023 Australian Organic Wine Award winners for their outstanding results.
“Once again it is impressive to see the high quality of wines produced across the certified organic and biodynamic wine sector and I congratulate this year’s winners for their contribution to the industry,” Ms Ford said.
“Without a doubt, producing wine is a labour of love. We know how hard these winemakers work to maintain organic certification and to allow consumers to experience exceptional wines, with the highest standards of sustainability.
“It’s these wines that are gaining an enviable reputation here at home and overseas, with certified organic wines popular in Sweden, Canada and the United States.”
All the award winners
Cullen Wines Trophy Wine of Show, Red of Show and Gold Medal
2021 Ngeringa Iluma Syrah, Ngeringa Vineyards, Adelaide Hills
White of Show and Gold Medal
2022 Yangarra Estate Vineyard Blanc, Jackson Wine Estates, McLaren Vale
Best New Entrant, Gold Medal
2020 Carlei Estate Fruit Day Shiraz, Carlei Wines, Heathcote
Best Park Wine, Gold Medal
2022 Yalumba Gen Viognier, Hill-Smith Family Estates, South Australia
Best Left of Centre Wine, Silver Medal
2022 Stormflower Pet Nat, Stormflower Vineyards, Margaret River
Best Chillable Red, Gold Medal
2021 A thing of beauty Grenache, Tscharke, Barossa Valley