The Decanter World Wine Awards is the UK's biggest wine competition, and with 14,000-plus wines entered this year, the Aussies have aced it with six international trophies compared to Spain, Chile and South Africa's four and France's three.
The Big Six trophy winners were 2010 Penfolds Bin 389 Cabernet-Shiraz, 2011 Josef Chromy Chardonnay Tasmania, 2011 Credaro Family Estate Beach Head Shiraz Margaret River, 2007 McGuigan Bin 9000 Semillon Hunter Valley, 2008 Eden Springs High Eden Riesling Eden Valley and Campbells Topaque Rutherglen.
I was lucky enough to co-chair the Australian category with Michael Hill-Smith MW, who not only makes a mean shiraz and chardonnay himself at Shaw and Smith, but is also an astute observer of the Australian wine scene. He gave short shrift to the idea that the 1,100 Aussie wines tasted might end up with a victory for the usual suspects of cabernet sauvignon, shiraz and chardonnay.
This is because the true diversity of Australian wine lies in the expression of classic grape varieties grown in a wide range of different site and climate combinations. And the winescape is enriched by the white grapes semillon, riesling and viognier, the red grapes grenache, mataro and pinot noir and a bunch of promising newcomers in tempranillo, sangiovese and graciano.
Chardonnay led the whites field with an impressive array from regions as diverse as Adelaide Hills, Mornington Peninsula, Yarra Valley and Margaret River. As well as the Josef Chromy Chardonnay, especially impressive was Yalumba's succulently peachy and Chablis-like 2011 FDW [7c] Adelaide Hills Chardonnay.
Having made a speciality of viognier, the northern Rhône grape of Condrieu, Yalumba is also responsible for the gold-winning, voluptuously rich, honeysuckle and apricot 2010 The Virgilius Viognier, Eden Valley, which came within a whisker of winning the international trophy for single white grape variety. It was a dry white made from semillon that won the under-£15 international trophy, the wonderfully toasty, limey and honeyed 2007 McGuigan Bin 9000 Hunter Valley Semillon; a limited quantity will be available at tesco.com at £14.99 within days.
Among the rich diversity of magnificent fortified wines made from the muscat and tokay (muscadelle) grapes, it was immensely pleasing to see Campbells' caramelised orange and butterscotch Topaque take the under-£15 trophy. For a full list of winners, go to decanter.com/dwwa/2013/.