The 2023 trophy winners of the Melbourne Royal Wine Awards, presented by vintrace, were announced last week at a luncheon at the Victoria Pavilion at Melbourne Showgrounds.

This year’s awards attracted over 2425 entries from more than 420 Australian wineries, with over 1100 awards and medals given in total.

Celebrating the 60th awarding of the Jimmy Watson Memorial Trophy for Best Young Red, Lowestoft Estate Wines won the trophy for the 2022 Lowestoft La Maison Pinot Noir. This marks Lowestoft Estate’s first time winning the trophy, and the third time a Pinot Noir has claimed the prestigious trophy. Previous Pinot Noir winners were Home Hill Winery in 2015 and Yabby Lake Winery in 2013.

In addition, Lowestoft Estate won the James Halliday Trophy for Best Pinot Noir for the same wine, the third year in a row that the La Maison Pinot Noir has won the award. Fruit from the Lowestoft vineyard also produced the 2017 James Halliday Pinot Noir trophy winner, prior to Lowestoft being acquired by Fogarty Family Wines in 2019.

Lowestoft’s Chief Winemaker and General Manager Liam McElhinney said: “It is a great honour for me and our winemaking and viticulture teams to be able to produce such amazing wines from the Lowestoft vineyard. This is a small 3-hectare site, densely planted in 1986 to 8,300 vines per hectare.

“The Jimmy Watson Memorial Trophy and the ‘three-peat’ James Halliday Trophy win shows the immense quality this vineyard produces year after year. We are immensely proud that the consistency of style we are capturing in the La Maison is setting a new benchmark for Australian Pinot Noir.

“Our success is Tasmania’s success, and we hope wine consumers will continue to appreciate how fantastic Tasmanian Pinot Noir is.”

The Francois De Castella trophy for Best Young White Wine was awarded to the 2022 Handpicked Wines Wombat Creek Vineyard Yarra Valley Chardonnay, which also took home the accolades of Best Chardonnay and Best Victorian Chardonnay.

Peter Dillon, chief winemaker at Handpicked Wines, was thrilled to be awarded with the trophy.

“I’m overjoyed to be receiving this award, certainly not what I imagined when I woke up this morning,” he said.

“It’s the icing on top of the cake of a very exciting year for Handpicked Wines. Wombat Creek is an incredible site, located at the very top of the Yarra Valley. It’s a site we have a lot of heartfelt passion for, having been custodians of it since 2016. Since then, we’ve been laser-focused on organic farming and regenerative viticulture practices, which has set this site on a path towards being fully organic. It’s apparent these practices have raised the quality of fruit we can source from the site and, ultimately, the quality of wines we can produce.”

With over 904 eligible entries, the Douglas Seabrook Trophy for Best Single Vineyard Wine went to McWilliams Wines Single Vineyard 2022 Shiraz, which also won the Trevor Mast Trophy for Best Shiraz.

Tasmania’s Freycinet Vineyard has won its first trophy at the Melbourne Royal Wine Awards, taking home the Dr Tony Jordan Trophy for Best Sparkling for the 2016 Freycinet Vineyard Radenti Vintage Cuvee, Chardonnay/Pinot Noir.

Melbourne Royal CEO, Brad Jenkins spoke to the importance of the awards.

“The Melbourne Royal Wine Awards is one of Australia’s oldest and most respected wine award programs, recognising and rewarding excellence in Australian winemaking,” he said.

“This year we celebrate the 60th awarding of the Jimmy Watson Memorial Trophy and we congratulate the team at Tasmania’s Lowestoft Estate on taking home the top prize in wine. We are grateful to all our entrants, judges, committee members and stewards for their tireless commitment to excellence and for making this year’s Melbourne Royal Wine Awards one of the most coveted in its history.”

The awards were judged by a panel of 35 wine experts, chaired by Melanie Chester.

“The 2023 Melbourne Royal Wine Award results demonstrate the strength and diversity our industry is producing. This year, judges from across the Australian industry gathered with the rather daunting task of tasting just over 2400 wines, and the delicious wines on the bench on trophy day were a testament to the talent and commitment of our viticulturalists and winemakers,” said Chester.

Representing the Victorian Government and government partner Drink Victorian, Parliamentary Secretary to the Premier Nick Staikos MP spoke about the importance of the awards to the Victorian wine industry.

“Victoria has around 700 wineries that contribute significantly to Victoria’s $24.5bn drinks industry, generating regional jobs and boosting local tourism. While not every winery was lucky enough to walk away with an award, the Melbourne Royal Wine Awards celebrate that contribution and provide a timely reminder to Drink Victorian ahead of the festive period,” Staikos said.

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