A new wave of young Australian winemakers are turning heads and picking up awards for their fresh interpretations of Australia’s traditional grape varieties.
Four South Australian and one Victorian winemaker took home trophies at the 2015 Young Guns of Wine Awards ceremony held in Sydney this week.
Of the 50 young winemakers entering the annual wine competition, eight out the 12 finalists were South Australian, said competition judge Rory Kent.
“Certainly, I think amongst all of the winemakers from South Australia, it’s their reimagining of classic styles that is evident,” he said.
Best New Act went to Luke Growden of Year Wines, in McLaren Vale, while the sought after Young Gun of Wine trophy went to Victorian finalist Adrian Rodda of Rodda Wines, in Beechworth.
The People’s Choice Award went to Laura and Brendan Carter of Unico Zelo, in the Adelaide Hills.
For the first time in the history of the competition, the judges witnessed an unresolvable tie between two young winemakers vying for the Wine Makers Choice Award.
Steven Crawford from Frederick Stevenson (Barossa and Clare Valleys) and Michael Downer of Murdoch Hill(Adelaide Hills) received equal votes for the title, forcing the finalists to vote again.
The 10 finalists voted for a second time only to return the same result, before a tie was officially called.
“Arguably it’s been the best wine we have had yet, in the nine years that the competition has been running,” said Kent.
Crawford said he was more than happy to share the award with Downer, who was a ‘great buddy’.
Steven Crawford and Michael Downer studied viticulture together at the University of Adelaide before traveling Europe and working at Barolo winery in the mountains in Italy.
“I had a car and we drove around Spain, France, Hungary, Italy, Germany, trying the wines, learning where they were grown and how they were made.
“Every time I came back, I started asking questions about what we were doing back home as to whether it was the right approach or not.”
Crawford said as a result his wines are more elegant, and his focus is first and foremost on their compatibility with food.
“What’s happening in Australia’s small bar scene is a good opportunity for new wine producers because the bar owners want to try something different.”
He said young Australian’s are starting to drink more wine and are “more adventurous than the baby boomer generation.”
“We are more interested in what we’re consuming rather than relying on a brand that you can trust.”
Kent said there had been an explosion of talent in the Australian wine industry over the past few years, with more and more young winemakers willing to go out on their own and start their own business.
Steven Crawford (pictured)
Wine maker at Frederick Stevenson
Barossa and Clare Valleys, South Australia
Judge, Young Guns of Wine