Discover the winners of our 2019 Best Of Awards
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Discover the winners of our 2019 Best Of Awards

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Vintage Cellars
April 2, 2019
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The Vintage Cellars team is thrilled to introduce you to the annual Best Of winners and finalists for 2019. The Best Of Awards are now in their tenth year, and we are incredibly proud of the rigorous process our team members go through in order to reach this very exciting milestone.

In 2010, the inaugural Best of Awards were launched as a means to showcase the most impressive wines tasted by the Vintage Cellars panel, both new wines and those that adorn our shelves from vintage to vintage. Taste, value and visual appeal were, and continue to be, the essential criteria in our judging process. These are factors that all of us are looking for! Aimed at broadening our customers’ options by sharing our favourite drops, the results also proved to us — and you — that quality and value for money are available across an eclectic range of styles. The response was overwhelmingly positive, with customers flocking to our stores to try the winners and finalists for themselves. And this tradition continues to this day, with customers enjoying this sense of discovery.

It's a tough job...

Over the course of the year, our team of experts is on a continual quest to discover, taste and deliberate over thousands of wines, beers and spirits to stock our shelves with what we consider to be the finest selection across every category. But once a year, we like to showcase what we consider to be the best of the best at Vintage Cellars, as a way of acknowledging the hard work and passion of winemakers, brewers and distillers across Australia, New Zealand and beyond. Each year, it’s thrilling to see customers' response to the results — through enthusiasm in finding something new or the confirmation of your own excellent judgement at having already discovered one of the winners!

The Best of Awards also offer a fascinating insight into changing tastes and new styles, which are reflected in our ever-evolving categories. Although when you look through the past winners (see right), it's clear that red (particularly shiraz) is a consistent winner in the Overall Best Wine category.

A moveable feast

Over the course of 10 years, much has changed in the drinking world — not just in the wine styles and grape varieties gaining favour, but in the explosion of dynamic new craft brewers and boutique distilleries both here and beyond our shores. The Best of Awards have evolved with each exciting new development, and our categories now cover everything from Winemaker of the Year, Best Champagne, Best Sparkling and Best Still Rosé, to Brewery of the Year, Distillery of the Year, Best Local Gin and plenty more.

A bumper crop

The 2019 Best Of showcase has proven to be a massive task, with some 22 separate categories to judge, from apéritifs to XPAs, sparkling and international drops, and single malts to summer ales. This broad range is also a reflection of our customers’ increasingly eclectic and sophisticated drinking choices, and we’re proud that these awards have become an integral part of that journey. Flick to page 10 to learn more about the categories, judging process and criteria, and be sure to taste this year’s winners by finding them at your local Vintage Cellars store or online at vintagecellars.com.au.

So, how do we come to this lengthy list of winners and finalists? It all starts with the buying team, who stock each Vintage Cellars shelf with brilliant products month after month. In the lead-up to the Best Of Awards, the buying team joins forces with our team members in the stores, who are the passionate wine, beer and spirit lovers who get up close and personal with the products and you, our customers, every day.

Then, we introduce a cohort of winemakers to join the judging team – these professionals bring a technical aspect to the process, but our focus remains firmly set on keeping the awards focused on the wines you enjoy drinking that offer great value, and a memorable flavour experience.

Our Best Of judging panel collectively boasts lifetimes worth of experience in both professional practice and on-the-ground customer-derived knowledge.

The judging process

Before our judging panel comes together, Vintage Cellars’ buying team goes through all our products by category to distil our list into the products that have sold well throughout the year - this is the best way to unearth the products that our customers have been enjoying the most.

Once the producers have sent in all the requested products on the short list (short in theory, but actually very long), the judging panel begins its process.

A few important steps contribute to the overall judging process. First our judging panel blind-tastes and scores the submitted list of wines, beers and spirits. They then score products on visual appeal (based on packaging and labels) and value (based on price).

The blind tasting involves removing all visual cues or references of labels and bottle shape by placing the bottles inside brown paper bags, to enable the judges to experience the quality and flavour of the product in an objective environment.

The finalists are blind-tasted again with scores awarded in order to determine the winner.

This year, the Best Of Awards also include a Winemaker, Distillery and Brewery of the Year. These winning producers are chosen by Vintage Cellars’ buying team, who consider all the products that have made the shortlist and finals, as well as other ongoing successful products.

It’s never easy to find a winner in any of the categories. Australia’s producers, and indeed those on the global scene, are crafting excellent products that adorn our shelves every year. Vintage Cellars feels blessed to be the home of so many acclaimed classic styles, as well as emerging drops, but there will always be a select few that stand apart. So, dive into our Best Of Awards for 2019. You're guaranteed to discover something spectacular in the company of some classic favourites.

And the winner is…
Introducing the Best Wine of the Year for 2019 - Mr. Riggs The Bolter Shiraz from McLaren Vale. The judges said: "This wine expresses the essence of McLaren Vale. Well structured, featuring chocolate, lush berry and meaty aromas and a savoury, juicy finish."

Best Of Awards Categories & Winners

Winemaker of the Year
Julian Langworthy, Deep Woods Estate, Margaret River

Best Value Red Wine Under $25
Mr. Riggs The Bolter Shiraz, McLaren Vale 2016

Best Value White Wine Under $25

Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough NZ 2018

Best Premium Red Wine Over $25
Peregrine Pinot Noir, Central Otago NZ

Best Premium White Wine Over $25
Church Road McDonald Series Chardonnay, Hawke’s Bay NZ 2017

Best Sparkling Wine
Ninth Island Sparkling NV, Tasmania

Best Champagne

Charles De Cazanove Tradition Brut Vintage, Champagne France 2007

Best Rosé
Lampe De Méduse Rosé Cru Classé, Provence France

Best International Red Wine
Cosme Palacio Cosecha Rioja, Rioja Spain 2016

Best International White Wine
Wente Morning Fog Chardonnay, California USA 2017

Distillery of the Year
Twenty Third Street Distillery

Best Australian Gin
Ink Gin

Best International Gin
Roku Japanese Gin

Best Vodka
Reyka Vodka

Best Malt Whisky
Ailsa Bay Single Malt Scotch Whisky

Best Spirit Winners:
Best Flavoured Gin — The Lakes Gin Rhubarb & Rosehip

Best Tequila — Casamigos Blanco
Best Bourbon — Maker's Mark 46

Best Irish Whiskey — Method & Madness Single Grain

Best Japanese Whisky — Hakushu

Best Apéritif Winners:
Best Sweet Apéritif — Lillet Blanc
Best Liqueur Apéritif — St Germain Elderflower
Best Bitter Apéritif — Campari Aperitivo
Best Citrus Apéritif — Ambra Limoncello

Best Premixed Cocktail
Lexington Hill Espresso Martini

Brewery of the Year
Young Henrys

Best IPA
Modus Operandi
Sonic Prayer IPA

Best Pale Ale
Balter Strong Pale

Best Extra Pale Ale
ParrotDog XPA

Best Summer Ale
Kaiju Krush