What makes a winner? How we judge the best of 2018
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What makes a winner? How we judge the best of 2018

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Vintage Cellars
April 4, 2018
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The Vintage Cellars Best of Awards is an annual celebration of the year’s best wines, beers and spirits. 2018 marks the ninth edition of the Vintage Cellars Best Of Awards, and like the years before it, the competition has brought together hundreds of brilliant winemakers, brewers and distillers from around the world.

Before the first round of judging can even begin, this number is whittled down internally to a shortlist, after which our panel of buyers, category managers, team members and our Master of Wine, Bob Paulinski, commence a rigorous process to determine the final 19 category winners.

Armed with their breadth of knowledge and years of tasting experience, our panel scores each entrant according to the following strict criteria:


Accounting for 20 out of a possible 40 points, the quality category is a deep dive into every facet of the product. Judges analyse its appearance, making note of the clarity, depth and intensity, before undertaking a blind-taste test to examine aroma, palate and finish.

The overall category winners are those which excel across all criteria – like our French duo: Chemins de Gascogne Côtes de Gascogne and Bonpas Côtes du Rhone 2016. Respective winners of the Best White and Best Red International Wine Awards, both offer a balance that appeals to each of the senses in equal part.


Quality is then correlated with cost to determine whether the bottle’s price point accurately reflects the value of its contents. Bottles that drink to a standard greater than their price are awarded a greater share of the 10 points available – and admirers of Australia’s esteemed wine regions will be pleased to know they’re home to some of the best value bottles available.

Tasmania’s Tamar Valley, for example, is behind the Devil’s Corner Riesling 2017; the Best Value White (Under $20) award winner that wowed the judges with its punchy citrus flavours and crisp balance. While over on the mainland, St Hallet’s Lore of the Land Shiraz 2016 brings the Best Value Red (Under $25) and overall wine winner title home to the Barossa Valley, thanks to an irresistible spiced undercurrent that really lets the bottle’s fruit flavours shine.

Visual appeal

When it comes to the remaining 10 points, judges cast a discerning eye over both bottle and packaging. Is the bottle one you would be proud to display on your dining table? Is it sufficiently enticing that it could incite a spontaneous purchase? Does it have a look that could lure even brand loyalists away from their usual choice? Would it be a suitable gift for one of your nearest and dearest?

These are all questions our panellists ask themselves and Chateau Cavalier’s beautifully crafted Grand Cavalier Rosé has all the answers. With its sleek and alluring silhouette, embossed glass and 1940s-esque label, all of which elevate its stunning salmon pink contents, this show stopper is artistically inspired for a truly unique look.

Discover the full list Discover the winners of our 2018 Vintage Cellars Best of Awards below:

• Best Value White Under $20 – Devil’s Corner Riesling, Tasmania 2017
• Best Value White Over $20 – Robert Bowen Chardonnay, Margaret River 2016
• Best Premium Red Under $25 – St Hallet Lore of the Land Shiraz, Barossa Valley 2016
• Best Premium Red Wine Over $25 – Coal Pit Tiwha Pinot Noir Central Otago NZ 2016
• Best Champagne – Charles de Cazanove Tradition Brut Vintage, Champagne 2007
• Best Sparkling – Bird in Hand Sparkling Pinot Noir, Adelaide Hills 2017
• Best Rosé – Chateau Cavalier Grand Cavalier Rose, Cotes de Provence France 2016
• Best International White Wine – Chemins de Gascogne Cotes de Gascogne, France 2016
• Best International Red Wine – Bonpas Cotes du Rhone, Rhone Valley France 2016
• Best Australian Craft Beer - Mountain Goat Summer ale Can 6x375mL
• Best International Craft Beer - Tuatara Tomahawk APA Bottle 6x330mL
• Best Imported Beer – Kirin Megumi Bottle 6x330mL
• Best New Beer – Pirate Life Throwback IPA 3.5% Can 6x355mL
• Best Old World Whisky – Loch Lomond 12 YO Single Malt Scotch Whisky 700mL
• Best New World Whisky – Yamazaki Distillers Reserve Whisky 700mL
• Best Australian Gin – Four Pillars Rare Dry Gin 700mL
• Best International Gin – St George Terroir Gin 750mL
• Best Vodka – Archie Rose Original Vodka 700mL
• Best Cider – Mr Finch Apple Cider Bottle 6x330mL