By Andy Young
The winners of the Halliday Wine Companion awards for 2017, including the Winemaker, Winery and Wine of the Year, have been revealed.
The Qantas epiQure Halliday Wine Companion Awards for 2017 were held in Melbourne earlier this week and Sarah Crowe of Yarra Yering was named Winemaker of the Year. Crowe is the first female to win the prestigious award.
Crowe credits Yarra Yering founder Dr Bailey Carrodus for providing her with all the riches a winemaker craves to produce really great wine.
“I simply want to make wines which are true to the integrity of the fruit I have to work with,” said Crowe.
“And the fruit is exceptional. With the advances in the scientific understanding of winemaking we have today, I can only improve on the original vision and legacy created by Dr Carrodus.”
She added: “Vintage at Yarra Yering is certainly intensive. We hand harvest and sort all grapes before we crush or destem the fruit into small 0.5 tonne fermenters. Gently hand plunged keeping the juice in close contact with the skins also keeps me in close contact with the wines through fermentation.
“Our oak regime has shifted in recent years by reducing the level of new oak and giving the fruit centre stage in the chemistry of each wine.”
The Wine of the Year award went to Best’s Thomson Family Great Western Shiraz 2014, while the Winery of the Year was named as the Hunter Valley’s Mount Pleasant.
Mount Pleasant was named Winery of the Year with seven Shirazes scoring between 97 and 99 points, supported by three Semillons scoring more than 95 points. Halliday credits the appointment of Chief Winemaker Jim Chatto in 2013 as key to the winery’s growing success and the renaissance of Australia’s original winemaking region.
Best’s Thomson Family Great Western Shiraz 2014 took out Wine of the Year. From a small block of just 15 rows of Shiraz planted in 1867, this wine was crafted by young gun Justin Purser and scored 99/100. Best’s celebrates 150 years of winemaking in 2016.
The awards coincide with the release of the 2017 Halliday Wine Companion, and the author said: “There are more than 1300 wineries profiled in this edition and I often get asked 'How do you do it?' With help, of course, but even after 11 editions it still brings me great joy in seeing the quality of wines and the increasing talent of winemakers from Australia. And now we are witnessing an ever-increasing diversity of sub-regions, sites and varietals. It continues to be a very exciting industry to be working alongside.”