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Limestone Coast winemaker tops the class

Sue Bell, senior winemaker at Stonehaven in South Australia’s Limestone Coast, has been named Qantas Dux of the Len Evans Tutorial for 2007.

The late Len Evans AO OBE, established the Tutorial in 2000 to train ongoing generations of wine show judges and ensure the highest standard of judging at Australian wine shows.

A total of 108 applications were received for the 2007 program with only twelve individuals selected to undertake the intensive one week course on 5–9 November.

Iain Riggs, one of the Trustees of the Len Evans Tutorial, along with James Halliday and Brian Croser, further outlines details of the course:

‘A team of five tutors take 12 individuals from a variety of backgrounds through their paces in ‘the most exclusive wine school in the world’. These scholars are tutored in the finest wines and wine styles of the world — around 100 each day — so they gain an understanding and definition of absolute wine quality.’

‘It is an intensive pathway for scholars to become involved in the Australian wine show judging circuit and those that excel are well positioned to drive the future of wine shows.’

‘The Dux award is great recognition for an individual’s outstanding ability to technically and thoroughly evaluate wine quality and the Trustees congratulate Sue as the 2007 Qantas Dux’, Mr Riggs said.

This achievement tops off an outstanding month for Ms Bell, in which Stonehaven hosted the Limestone Coast wine show and took out Best Chardonnay and Best White Wine of Show with the 2005 Stonehaven Hidden Sea Chardonnay, the only wine awarded from outside Coonawarra and the first time the show has been judged outside of Coonawarra.

In addition, Ms Bell was the first winemaker chosen to participate in the Australian Rural Leadership Program earlier in 2007.

Sue said she was honoured to accept the 2007 Len Evans Tutorial Qantas Dux award, ‘a most fitting memorial and legacy of an inspirational man’.

‘Just to participate in the tutorial was a very special and almost surreal experience in itself, absorbing the knowledge of the tutors, the incredible wines and interacting with the other eleven scholars.’

‘To be selected as dux was a very pleasant surprise. I’m excited about the future of wine in Australia, and look forward to participating in more wine show judging.’

‘I’ve worked in regions across Australia and overseas with the last eight years focused on the Limestone Coast. I’m fortunate that Stonehaven has a strong presence in the Wrattonbully, Padthaway and Coonawarra regions, so I’m able to work with distinctive fruit from ancient terroir and unique soils.’ Ms Bell said.

‘Tasting is all about continual learning and new experiences and should be enjoyable. Making wine is capturing the best of what you find and constantly benchmarking, looking for better.’

‘As one of the first producers to recognise the incredible potential of the Limestone Coast region, I think our efforts are starting to pay off.’

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