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Margaret River’s Josephine Perry named 2016’s Young Gun of Wine


Margaret River winemaker Josephine Perry, 37, has been named this year’s Young Gun of Wine. The accolade is richly deserved; for the past couple of vintages I’ve been extremely impressed with the wines Perry has produced under her Dormilona and Clayface brands. Despite the use of a la mode lo-fi techniques (extended skin-contact of whites, fermentation in amphora and so on) and belying their Day of the Dead-style labels, the wines are fabulously approachable, crowd-pleasing examples of grape and place.

Take the 2015 Dormilona chenin blanc ($30): organically grown, wild yeast ferment, no additives or filtration, and the purest, most scintillating expression of the variety you could imagine — like biting into a cold, crisp granny smith. Or the 2015 Clayface Chardonnay ($60): wild-fermented in clay amphora pots and just fabulous: one of the most intensely flavoured and complex Margaret River chardonnays I’ve tried in a long time. If you want to check out one of WA’s best and most adventurous new producers.

As well as the main gong (which is decided by a panel of wine industry and media judges), three other Young Gun awards are given.

Best New Act, also decided by the judges, goes to a winemaker who has made it on to the shortlist for the first time (Perry won this award in 2013). This year the chosen newcomer is Jasper Button, 34, of Commune of Buttons, an Adelaide Hills label. Again, a great choice. I love the perfume and purity in his 2015 Scary Buttons pinot noir ($40) and the kick of sinewy spice in his 2015 Sparrows Syrah ($35). Terrific wines.

The People’s Choice Award emerges from a couple of public wine tasting events and dinners held before the main announcement. Attendees are able to meet the finalists and taste their wines and nominate their faves. This year the most popular winemaker was pinot noir specialist Richard Evans, 29, of new boutique label Two Tonne Tasmania, based in the Tamar Valley. I particularly like his 2015 TMV ($35), a lovely, juicy, bouncy, medium-bodied pinot, very much in the style the Tamar does so well.

And the final gong, Winemakers’ Choice is, as the name suggests, decided by the 12 finalists themselves. This year’s peer pick is Michael Downer, 31, of Murdoch Hill, another Adelaide Hills winery, and another producer of great pinot — though I think Downer’s best wine is not his pinot noir but his pinot meunier: the 2015 Surrey ($40), one of only a handful of medium-bodied reds in Australia made from meunier (a grape more commonly turned into sparkling wine), is just beautifully savoury and satisfying, with a wonderful autumnal hedgerow quality to it.

Speaking of gongs, the Royal Melbourne Wine Awards — one of Australia’s largest wine shows and, thanks to the Jimmy Watson Trophy, certainly the best known — has announced a new trophy this year, for best organic or biodynamic wine. The trophy will go to the highest scoring certified organic or BD wine judged alongside conventionally made wines, in a blind-tasting situation. It’s a sign of the times when something that was once considered very much a fringe activity — organic and biodynamic farming — is now not only accepted but actively promoted by such a venerable and traditionally conservative institution as the Royal Agricultural Society of Victoria, organiser of the awards. Bravo.

AB Mauri



WID 2017