The best NSW wine for 2023

First Creek 2022 Single Vineyard Wills Hill Road Chardonnay has been crowned the best NSW wine for 2023.

The Chardonnay was named 2023 NSW Wine of the Year at the 2023 ICC Sydney NSW Wine Awards last week.

Located in Pokolbin, First Creek is owned by Greg and Jenny Silkman and has been releasing wines since 2005. Liz Silkman is the celebrated Chief Winemaker at First Creek – her accolades include being awarded the prestigious Dux of the Len Evans Tutorial in 2006.

The NSW Wine Awards win follows First Creek taking out the Best Small Producer Wine trophy for their 2022 Silkman Wines Reserve Chardonnay at the 2023 Sydney Royal Wine Show.

“We are over the moon to have left the ICC Sydney NSW Wine Awards with 3 new trophies last Friday,” First Creek said.

“Our 2022 Single Vineyard Will’s Hill Road Chardonnay won Best Chardonnay, Best White Wine in show and NSW Wine of the Year. What a wonderful surprise, just days before our 25th anniversary.”

Chardonnay triumphs in NSW

While Semillon has stolen the spotlight in NSW for many years, Chardonnay is making a comeback on the podium, with five Gold medal winners for 2023.

Among the Chardonnays, the best NSW wine medals went to:

  • First Creek Wines 2022 Single Vineyard Wills Hill Road Chardonnay, Hunter Valley
  • First Creek Wines 2022 Winemakers Reserve Chardonnay, Hunter Valley
  • Brokenwood Wines 2022 Forest Edge Vineyard Chardonnay, Orange
  • Printhie Wines 2022 Topography Chardonnay, Orange
  • Charteris Wines 2022 Pokolbin Selection Chardonnay, Hunter Valley

Chair of Judges Nick Spencer said that NSW “produces some of the best Chardonnay in the world”.

“I was thrilled to Chair my third NSW Wine Awards and at the risk of sounding like a broken record, the results were outstanding,” he said.

“The quality of wines this year were extraordinary and a real testament to the producers, particularly when considering how challenging the last two vintages have been.

“There were of course some stand out classes including Semillon, Shiraz and encouragingly, the Sparkling wine class has improved significantly with 20 medals awarded up from 12 the previous year. Other classes that shone were the Alternative White and Red classes, which seem to improve year in year out.

“The top Chardonnays this year also back my belief that NSW produces some of the best Chardonnay in the world.”

NSW also gave Chardonnay its start in Australia – it was first made by Mudgee pioneer Alf Kurtz in 1862.

View all the winners here.

Push to get more NSW wine on lists

NSW is Australia’s second largest wine producing state, accounting for nearly one third of the nation’s output. However, the NSW hospitality industry is way behind the average on how many NSW wines it puts on its lists.

Only 11.2% of the wines on Sydney wine lists are from NSW, while wine listings in South Australia strongly favour wines produced in their state, with 72% from local regions.

NSW Wine is on a mission to raise the profile of the industry. With the support of the NSW Government, NSW Wine is delivering a range of initiatives to promote NSW wines, increase awareness of our 16 regions and ensure that NSW wines are well represented on the wine lists in our home state. 

“The number of NSW wines on lists went up to 16% last year after a ‘support local’ call to action during COVID-19 but it dropped straight back down,” President Mark Bourne told Good Food.

“There are 16 wine regions in NSW, we have a diversity of climates and styles at all price ranges, and we’ve got some of the oldest vineyards in the country with some of the most iconic wines. The public needs to demand it and trade needs to support it.”

While accepting his award for producing the year’s best NSW wine, First Creek’s Greg Silkman urged the audience to “promote NSW wine and every time you go out, ask for it!”

2022 Graham Gregory Award winner announced

Wine industry leader Tom Ward was announced as the 2022 Graham Gregory Award recipient at the annual ICC Sydney NSW Wine Awards.

NSW Department of Primary Industries (NSW DPI) Group Director Plant Systems Dr Alison Bowman said the Graham Gregory Award recognises people who are advancing the wine industry.

“This award celebrates those that contribute to the NSW wine industry’s continuing growth and success,” Dr Bowman said.

“It is named in honour of Graham Gregory, a pioneer of the NSW wine industry and a former NSW DPI Deputy Director General in Agriculture.

“Mr Ward is a respected Orange vigneron that has played an integral role in the NSW wine industry, through his outstanding leadership roles and enhancing the profile of the NSW wine industry at a regional and state level.”

Ward has held various roles that have contributed to advancing the NSW wine industry, including being a current Board Member of Orange 360, the previous President of the Orange Regional Vignerons Association and Cowra Regional Vignerons Association, and Mr Ward was also President of the NSW Wine Industry Association (NSW Wine) between 2013 – 2019.

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