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Barossa Valley-grown Shiraz named Australia’s best export wine

A wine produced by a boutique Victorian wine company from Barossa Valley Shiraz grapes has won the prestigious George Mackey Memorial Trophy for 2004–2005 as Australia’s best export wine.

The Australian Wine and Brandy Corporation presents the award each year to the most outstanding wine exported from Australia in the preceding financial year. The 2004–05 winner, Mt Toolleen 2002 Ebenezer Vineyard Shiraz, was announced earlier in December at the Corporation’s annual general meeting in Adelaide.

Corporation Chief Executive Sam Tolley said the winning wine, although produced in very small quantities in 2002, provided a serious benchmark for all Australian wine exports and was an astonishing achievement for a newly-formed wine company.

“The George Mackey Trophy is a major accolade for an Australian wine because it recognises a wine that has been singled out from many thousands as our ideal export ambassador,” Mr Tolley said. “Mt Toolleen 2002 Ebenezer Vineyard Shiraz reinforces the critical message for our export markets that Australian wine is great quality.”

Mt Toolleen 2002 Ebenezer Vineyard Shiraz was judged best export wine out of a record 14,870 wines assessed in 2004–05 by the Corporation’s panel of wine inspectors as part of the evaluation of wines submitted for export approval. Of these, 183 were nominated for the trophy with only 48 eligible wines eventually submitted to the independent judging panel, comprising Foster’s Wine Estates chief winemaker Chris Hatcher, award-winning winemaker David O’Leary and wine writer and show judge Nick Stock.

Mt Toolleen owner Barry Woods said producing a premium quality wine had been a “lifetime ambition” and that only 500 cases of the 2002 Ebenezer Vineyard Shiraz had been produced.

Mt Toolleen Vineyard is a boutique wine company based in Victoria with a vineyard located in the so-called ‘golden mile’ of the Barossa Valley in the hundred of Ebenezer. Mr Woods describes himself as an “honorary resident” of the Barossa Valley, having been a frequent visitor over the past 40 years. He bought and planted the vineyard with a syndicate including well known Barossa winemakers Peter Lehmann and Ivan Limb. The trophy-winning wine was made at Peter Lehmann Wines and nurtured to maturity by consulting winemaker Mark Jamieson.

“It was a great year, great vineyard, great soil, great winemaker – and just a bit of luck,” said Mr Woods, whose 2002 Shiraz was made from grapes grown on the Ebenezer Vineyard. Of the 500 cases produced, most have been sold to an international airline for serving in its first class cabin. The airline has since entered the wine it in the “Cellar in the Sky” awards. Since then, Mr Woods has appointed distributors in the United States, Shanghai, Japan, Hong Kong and Malaysia for subsequent vintages of his Mt Toolleen Ebenezer Vineyard Shiraz.

Mr Tolley said the outstanding quality of this year’s winner was a further boost to the Corporation’s Wine Brand Australia campaign which emphasises the quality and diversity of Australian wine.

“Wine Brand Australia is also about telling the fascinating stories behind Australian wine – and Barry Woods’ success in this year’s judging certainly makes a great story,” said Mr Tolley. “It shows that it is not just our major wine companies that are already well recognised internationally which can create such an export benchmark, but also smaller boutique wine companies that are just starting out on the export path.”



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