by PHILIP WHITE
Australia’s Gourmet Traveller WINE, a shiny gastroporn monthly, in association with the enormous Sydney-based liquor discounter, Kemenys, has awarded three South Australians in its annual Winemaker of the Year Awards.
The Winemaker of the Year 2008 award, “which recognises excellence in the Australian wine industry”, went to Louisa Rose of Yalumba in the Barossa.
The Kemenys Medal, which “encourages up-and-coming winemakers in the pursuit of excellence”, was awarded to Helen McCarthy of Taylors in the Clare district.
The Len Evans Award, “celebrating the importance of leadership in the industry” was presented to Robert Hill Smith, the owner and chief executive of Yalumba.
“South Australia is a force to be reckoned with when it comes to good winemaking, so it’s particularly fitting that all three winners hail from the southern state,” said Judy Sarris, editor of Gourmet Traveller WINE. "We’re absolutely thrilled to celebrate the outstanding creativity and hard work of these people who help make Australian wine among the very best in the world.”
Louisa Rose was selected for “impeccable quality of her flagship viognier, Yalumba The Virgilius, and Pewsey Vale The Contours Riesling ... Louisa has been experimenting with shiraz – looking at the impact of site, variety and clone – and releasing some single vineyard wines”, the Gourmet flak said.
The Len Evans Award went to Louisa’s boss, Robert, for his “era of remarkable growth and innovation ... His highly assured leadership is what drives Yalumba and the other entities that fall within his reign, especially Hill Smith Family Vineyards and Negociants International. Within this large organisation, teamwork is considered vital and decisions are the result of consensus rather than being handed down unilaterally. The leadership shown by Hill Smith and Yalumba in releasing their Old Vine and Reserve charters in 2007 is all too rare in the industry. By entering the realm of practical philosophy, they sought to promote discussion and address consumer confusion that arose from the loose use of the terms.”
The Kemenys Medal went to Helen McCarthy, who worked at Barossa Valley Estate and Penfolds before becoming senior winemaker at Taylors.
“McCarthy has made an excellent start with wine judging too – she’s accurate, confident and ready to defend her opinions” said the flak.
The awards were judged by the magazine’s regular contributors, Huon Hooke, Andrew Caillard MW, Nick Bulleid MW, Peter Bourne, Sophie Otton and Peter Forrestal (Chairman).