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AwardsTasmaniaYoung Guns

Young Gun first for Tasmania

By Friday 21 June 2024July 25th, 2024No Comments

Marco Lubiana has been named Young Gun of Wine 2024 – the first time the award has gone to Tasmania in the 18-year history of the competition.

Marco launched his eponymous label from the 2018 vintage, making a Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.

They will remain his focus, with a gentle hand in the winery and tireless year-round work amongst the vines key to his approach.

Those wines were made from the Lucille Vineyard, which had been recently purchased by his family and converted to biodynamic farming.

“I’m passionate about biodynamics and will only ever make wine from biodynamic vineyards that I work with,” says Lubiana.

He believes that with enough attention to detail and patience, those varieties – Tasmania’s key grapes – have extraordinary potential, and they’re more than enough for him to tackle right now.

“I am very lucky to be able to work with old (1973) plantings, which is very rare in Tasmania,” he says.

“I often think Australian winemakers can sometimes get a bit carried away with making many varieties and styles and sometimes lose the essence of the variety.

“By only having two wines, I know I can do my best to make them into something special.

“Another reason why I like having only two wines is because I am too busy in the vineyard to worry about making other wines!”

Lubiana says that his golden rule in the winery is to not touch anything too much.

“My wine style is firstly defined by the terroir of the vineyard from where the grapes are grown,” he says.

“I listen to the vineyard and make it to the style which I think best suits the site.

“Harvest date drives the style and sets up the wines from the beginning.

“When the grapes are picked at perfect balance with low yields, it provides a wine style driven by soft tannins, fine natural acidity and great intensity.”

Other winners:

Bridget Mac, Werkstatt Wine
Bridget Mac from West Melbourne has burst onto the Australian wine scene, releasing exceptional wines in her very first year – a feat that often takes winemakers decades to achieve. Inspired by Old World regions like Germany, Switzerland and Austria, she infuses a European flair into her wines made from Australian grapes. As the creative force behind Werkstatt Wine, Bridget is an artist turned winemaker. Her debut Riesling and sparkling Riesling (pet nat) have wowed judges, combining European sophistication with New World terroir. Produced in the underappreciated region of Mount Gambier, her debut wines put her centre stage as a future rock star of the industry.

2022 Utzinger Roter Satz, Tasmania
A true field blend of five varieties, remarkably with Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinot Noir harvested on the same day! And it’s delicious.

Scion Wine
Some 20 years ago, Rowly Milhinch left a career in visual communication to set up a vineyard and a family life in Rutherglen. It’s territory that his family have lived in for generations, and he was intent on honouring the traditions of the region but recasting them through his own lens. Under his Scion label, he makes fortifieds, a staple of Rutherglen, but they are twists on the classics, including a Muscat Nouveau and dry orange muscat, Blonde, as well as making dry red from Syrah, Grenache and Durif, with the latter also getting the light red treatment, built to chill.

Kenny Wine
Andrew Kenny launched his Kenny Wine label in 2021, focusing on Clare Riesling and Adelaide Hills Pinot. With the purchase of a vineyard in the Clare subregion of Auburn, the 2021 vintage saw a home-site Shiraz join the portfolio, while an old vine Grenache and a Sangiovese were added in 2022. 2023 saw the introduction of a collaboration from the Pfalz region of Germany – a ‘Kenny X Gabel’ Riesling, with more Riesling and a Pinot Noir to be released under this label. Kenny’s wines are classic in style, expressions of variety and sites he believes excel for specific grapes, and it is in the Clare Valley that the range of wines offers a particular exploration of sub-regionality. Their Auburn – home – vineyard was purchased in 2020. It’s a site that was planted by Kilikanoon in 2001 to Shiraz, and their principal goals have been increasing biodiversity and organic matter in the soil. Half the Shiraz has also now been grafted over to Sangiovese and 2023 saw a makeover of their Auburn vineyard, close planting 600 vines on around a third of the site to Pinot Blanc. “It’s the Clare Valley’s first Pinot Blanc as far as we are aware,” says Kenny. “Three years is a long wait for our first crop, but good things take time and we are excited to see what it produces.”

In the Tamar Valley, Matthias and Lauren Utzinger planted their vineyard in 2018 – now certified organic – at an impressive density of 6,500 vines per hectare. Wines for the Utzinger labels come from their own land, as well as three additional vineyards where Matthias is hands-on in the vines – he has the vigneron ethos that wine are “grown not made”. The Utzinger wine range showcases Tasmanian classics such as Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Riesling and a Fumé Sauvignon Blanc. Looking ahead, the Utzingers plan to introduce alternative varieties to their range, importing vine cuttings from Matthias’ homeland of Switzerland, promising an exciting future for this Tasmanian project.

Main photo, from left: Bridget Mac, Matthias Utzinger, Marco Lubiana, Rowly Milhinch and Andrew Kenny.

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