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SA scoops all categories at Gourmet Traveller's prestigious Winemaker of the Year Awards
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Winemakers from South Australia have outshone the rest of the country, having been crowned victorious in all three categories at Gourmet Traveller WINE's 11th annual Winemaker of the Year Awards, in association with Kemenys.
The winners were announced at a stylish dinner held at Astral Restaurant in Sydney.
The Winemaker of the Year 2008 award, which recognises excellence in the Australian wine industry, went to Louisa Rose (Yalumba, Eden Valley).
The Kemenys Medal, which encourages up-and-coming winemakers in the pursuit of excellence, was awarded to Helen McCarthy (Taylors, Clare Valley).
The Len Evans Award, celebrating the importance of leadership in the industry was presented to Robert Hill Smith (Yalumba, Eden Valley).
"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."
Gourmet Traveller WINE's Winemaker of the Year 2008 Award Yalumba winemaker Louisa Rose beat seven other finalists to claim the prestigious Winemaker of the Year Award accolade.
Having been a well-deserved finalist for this award in both 2000 and 2005, Rose cut her teeth on some of the country's finest whites. The Winemaker of the Year judges were particularly impressed by the impeccable quality of her flagship viognier, Yalumba The Virgilius, and Pewsey Vale The Contours Riesling. As chief winemaker, her work has been all encompassing. Among other things, Rose has been experimenting with shiraz — looking at the impact of site, variety and clone — and releasing some single vineyard wines.
Gourmet Traveller WINE's Len Evans Award The Len Evans Award honours the charismatic wine legend's life and contribution to the industry, and was presented to the head of Australia's oldest family winery, Robert Hill Smith from Yalumba.
Hill Smith has overseen an 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. Hill Smith's foresight and generosity make him a worthy recipient of this prestigious award.
Gourmet Traveller WINE's Kemenys Medal Completing the awards trio was the Kemenys Medal, established in 2001, presented to Clare Valley winemaker Helen McCarthy from Taylors.
Wine wasn't McCarthy's first choice; an interest in science saw her contemplating a degree in biotechnology. As luck would have it, her boyfriend at the time was taking a minor elective in wine marketing and was enthusing about one of his lecturers, who also inspired McCarthy. Work experience with Barossa Valley Estate followed and then a degree in agricultural science with oenology at the University of Adelaide where McCarthy graduated with first-class honours. She moved into the Southcorp graduate program then joined Penfolds winemakers before moving to Taylors as senior winemaker.
Working with chief winemaker Adam Eggins, McCarthy has general responsibility across all the Taylors wines; with the Jaraman range her own baby. McCarthy has made an excellent start with wine judging too — she's accurate, confident and ready to defend her opinions.
All three Gourmet Traveller WINE awards were judged by a panel of the magazine's regular contributors, including leading wine experts Huon Hooke, Andrew Caillard MW, Nick Bulleid MW, Peter Bourne, Sophie Otton and Peter Forrestal (Chairman).
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