The Top 50 finalists for the 2021 Young Gun of Wine Winemaker Awards – in its 15th edition – have just been announced.
“Over the past 15 years, we’ve seen this forum bring together and promote so many winemakers that have gone on to set a new tone of authenticity in Australian wine that is brazenly modern, brilliantly executed and highly attuned to the tastes of our time,” said Nick Stock, who has been on the judging panel since the very beginning, in 2007.
“The Young Gun of Wine Awards trace the leading edge of Australia’s newest winemaking talent and bring together those who seek to bend the needle in the direction of interest while redefining the notion of wine quality in Australia.”
WBM – Australia’s Wine Business Magazine sponsors the awards.
The Top 50 finalists in this year’s awards was arrived at over two days of intensive judging, with a panel of leading industry figures from across the country.
Stock was joined on the 2021 judging panel by Crawford River vigneron Belinda Thomson; Leanne Altmann, beverage director at Trader House Restaurants (Cutler & Co, Gimlet, Marion, Builders Arms, Supernormal, et al); Master Sommelier Sebastian Crowther; Jeremy Shiell from Winespeake; Olivia Evans of Fleet Restaurant; and Chris Dilworth and Loïque Allain from Dilworth and Allain, the 2020 Young Gun of Wine.
Wines from every maker in the long list were tasted, then their project and its aspirations were discussed, as was their place in the region they work in, as well as the broader wine landscape.
“We want to know how the makers are advancing the conversation on wine,” said Stock. “We want to know what contribution they are making to their community, to the wine landscape, to the future. Are they pushing boundaries, innovating, being bold? Are they putting back, working with others and caring about the bigger picture? And yes, are their wines engaging, thoughtful and lovingly made? It all matters to us.”
With two days of swirling and spitting and vigorous debate, a consensus was reached.
“For winemakers, making the annual Young Gun of Wine Awards list is an accomplishment that represents the best young wine labels and winemakers on the rise in Australia,” said Dilworth.
“Each year, it’s always great to look out for the list – to see who is on it and what they’re doing, as well as discovering exciting new wine producers.”
“I walked away from the tasting feeling inspired,” said Altmann.
“Not only was there a very strong line-up of wines from great young wine labels, but there was plenty of lively discussion about diversity of grape varieties and climates, farming and winemaking philosophies, and how this impacted the consumer.
“The finalists represent some of this country’s most impressive growers and producers of innovative, thoughtful and delicious wines.”
We now have our Top 50. And, like every year, the finalists are a diverse lot. “Our 50 finalists in 2021 span a wide variety of origins, styles and attitudes,” said Stock, “and all are united by a fierce determination to collectively drive the conversation of Australian wine forward to greater heights of diversity and distinction.”
If you want to have your say on who is Australia’s best winemaker, the People’s Choice voting is live online via this link. Everyone that votes will go into a draw to win a Liebherr wine cellar and a year’s supply of wines (52 bottles) from the 2021 Top 50 winemakers.
People’s Choice voting will be open until Monday 24 May. Go to this link.
This year, joining the trophies – Young Gun of Wine, Best New Act, People’s Choice, Winemaker’s Choice and Danger Zone – is a new trophy which celebrates makers that also lovingly tend to the land and the vines that they make wine from. Trophy winners will be announced Monday 24 May.
Anita Goode, Wangolina, Mount Benson
Top 50 finalists…
Sam Berketa, Alpha Box & Dice (Adelaide Hills)
David Caporaletti, Architects of Wine (Adelaide Hills)
Sam Dunlevy, Berg Herring (McLaren Vale)
Koen Janssens, Bink (Barossa Valley/Clare Valley)
Charlotte Hardy, Charlotte Dalton (Kangaroo Island/Langhorne Creek)
Aaron Fenwick, Chateau Comme Ci Comme Ca (Adelaide Hills)
Duncan Lloyd, Coriole (McLaren Vale)
Andrew Wardlaw, Edenflo (Eden Valley)
Riley Harrison, Harrison (McLaren Vale/Barossa Valley)
Lauren Hansen, Penley Estate (Coonawarra)
Jack Weedon, Rollick (Barossa Valley/Riverland)
Daniel Graham, Sigurd Wines (Adelaide Hills/Barossa Valley)
Charlie O’Brien, Silent Noise (McLaren Vale)
Benjamin Caldwell & Mauricio Ruiz Cantu, Somos (McLaren Vale/Adelaide Hills)
Sven Joschke, Sven Joschke (Adelaide Hills/Barossa Valley)
Nick & Rebecca Dugmore, The Stoke Wines (Kangaroo Island)
Turon White, Turon (Adelaide Hills)
Anita Goode, Wangolina (Mount Benson)
Chad Connolly, White Gate Wine Co (Barossa Valley)
Louis Schofield, Worlds Apart Wines (McLaren Vale/Eden Valley)
Luke Growden, Year Wines (McLaren Vale)
Ryan Ponsford, Entropy, Gippsland.
James & Jessica Audas, A.R.C Wines (Gippsland)
Stuart Dudine, Alkimi (Yarra Valley)
Hadyn Black, Black & Ginger (Great Western)
Gabriel O’Brien, Cavedon Wines (King Valley)
Ryan Ponsford, Entropy (Gippsland)
Jean-Paul Trijsburg, Jean-Paul (Ballarat/Heathcote)
Glen Hayley, Kooyong & Port Phillip Estate (Mornington Peninsula)
Oliver Rapson & Renata Morello, Lyons Will Estate (Macedon Ranges)
Matthew Purbrick, Minimum (Central Victoria)
Jayden Ong, Moonlit Forest (Yarra Valley/Gippsland/Mornington Peninsula)
Ben Mullen, Mulline (Geelong)
Etienne Mangier, North (Macedon Ranges)
David Verheul, Saison (Victoria)
Natillie Johnston, Tillie J (Yarra Valley)
James Scarcebrook, Vino Intrepido (Heathcote/Mornington Peninsula)
Raquel Jones, Weathercraft (Beechworth)
Ben Ranken, Wilimee (Macedon Ranges)
Gabriel O’Brien, Cavedon Wines, King Valley.
Max Marriott, Anim
Luke Monks, Made by Monks
Marco Lubiana, Marco Lubiana
Greer Carland, Quiet Mutiny
Natasha Arthur, Arthur Wines (Margaret River)
Tom Daniel, Chouette (Swan Valley)
Ryan O’Meara, Express Winemakers (Great Southern)
Andrew Scott, La Petite Mort (Granite Belt)
Main photo: Natasha Arthur, Arthur Wines, Margaret River.