By James Atkinson

McWilliam’s Wines subsidiary, Echelon Wine Partners, has had its 2012 Armchair Critic Chardonnay (pictured) named the Citi NSW Wine of the Year.

With an RRP of $21, the Armchair Critic wine took out the Trophy for Best Young Chardonnay before being announced as the winner of the top prize at an awards luncheon on Friday at The Sebel Pier 1 in Sydney.

The 2012 Armchair Critic Tumbarumba Chardonnay was sourced from selected established high altitude Tumbarumba vineyards, some up to 850m above sea level.

According to winemaker Adrian Sparks, having access to the best quality cool climate fruit matched with high quality winemaking practices and sensitive oak treatment has allowed the creation of a seamless wine with shimmering complexity.

"This is a real reflection of the quality of the Tumbarumba region which is quickly becoming renowned across Australia as a producer of excellent and long lasting wines," he said.

Neither the Tumbarumba region nor the Chardonnay variety are strangers to receiving top awards at this prestigious wine show with a local counterpart, the 2001 Courabyra 805 Sparkling Pinot Noir Chardonnay Pinot Meunier (RRP $65) being awarded the Trophy for Best Sparkling Wine for the second year running.

In fact a Tumbarumba Chardonnay has been named “Wine of the Year” in three of the last eight years, laying claim to being one of the best Chardonnay producing regions in the country.

McWilliam's national cellar door sales manager Greg West (centre) accepts his trophy

Eight of New South Wales’ 14 wine producing regions won trophies, with the oldest region, the Hunter Valley, producing 3 of the 14 trophy winners, an effort matched by the ever popular Orange region. Mudgee and Tumbarumba each produced 2 trophy winners while Canberra District, Murray Darling, Riverina and the Southern Highlands each being responsible for one trophy winner.

Chair of judges Huon Hooke said entry numbers for the show were down this year, which may be a reflection of recent difficult vintages.

“The good news is that quality was up. The number of gold medals was high this year, and, as a proportion of total entries, very high. The judges were impressed this year at the greater spread of outstanding quality across many grape varieties, extending beyond the familiar Chardonnay, Shiraz and Semillon to Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir, and Savagnin,” said Hooke.

The Graham Gregory Award, for services to NSW Wine Industry was presented to David Lowe, of Lowe Wines. Acting Director General of NSW Department of Primary Industries Michael Bullen described David Lowe as very worthy of winning this year’s Graham Gregory trophy.

“David has been tireless in his efforts to lift the profile not only on the wines in his home region of Mudgee, but those produced throughout the State. He is an energetic ambassador for wine tourism and has significantly contributed to better marketing of NSW product to NSW consumers,” Bullen said.

The trophy-winning wines were selected from the 44 Gold Medal wines awarded at the 2013 Awards. Full results for the show are available here.

The Shout Team

The leading online news service for Australia's beer, wine, spirits and hospitality industries.

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