Aussie fortified wine triumphs and Cab Sav named world’s best at the IWC 2023

July 6, 2023
By Rachel White
The Morris Whines vineyard in Rutherglen, Victoria.

Coming second only to France, Australia has won an impressive 62 Gold, 250 Silver and 199 Bronze Medals at the International Wine Challenge (IWC) 2023, one of the world’s most influential and rigorously judged wine competitions.

Thousands of wines from over 50 countries were entered this year, each judged blind according to three benchmarks – faithfulness to style, region and vintage. Awards include Gold, Silver, Bronze and Commended, with trophies awarded to each category’s best wines.

Despite accounting for only two per cent of Australia’s wine sold globally, the nation’s fortified wines shone at the awards, winning 24 medals in total, including 13 Gold.

Six of those 13 Gold went to Victoria’s Morris Wines, who also won three trophies, including the Australian Fortified Trophy for its Old Premium Rare Muscat and the Australian Tawny Trophy for its Cellar Reserve Grand Topaque. They also won the IWC Award For Consistency over five years, and Head Winemaker, David Morris was shortlisted for IWC Fortified Winemaker of the Year.

A fifth-generation Winemaker whose family have been making fortified wines for 160 years, Morris said his whole team are thrilled at the international success of the entire Morris portfolio.

“We are very proud to share our quality fortified wines. Seeing Rutherglen fortified wines succeed domestically is brilliant but watching them win gold medals globally showcases that we are consistently known for making the best fortified in the world

“A lot of intensive hard-work has gone on behind the scenes at Morris – ensuring that our fortified wines are respecting the unique Australian style we are known for, while truly creating a great muscat regardless of age,” he said.

Winning the IWC Award For Consistency over five years, Morris Wines are used to a certain amount of success with their Old Premium Rare Muscat being one of the most-awarded Muscat Wines in the world. Still, Morris said: “To me each win is truly a joyful surprise. I love seeing other people love our wines and am very proud to see Aussie wines take home medals on a global stage.”

On his own personal success, Morris said he was extremely proud to be shortlisted for IWC Fortified Winemaker of the year.

“As a fifth-generation winemaker whose family have been making fortified in Australia for the last 160 years, it is a great honour to be celebrated for carrying on this legacy. 

“It is an endorsement that not only am I doing a job that I love but a job that I am good at. To be acknowledged for creating excellent quality wines for our loyal customer is an incredible feeling,” he said.

Sam Caporn MW, Co-Chair of the IWC, said: “Australia has a long and distinguished history of making fortified wines, but production declined in the 60s.

“It is great to see winemakers responding to the growing global demand for fortified wines and drawing on their winemaking heritage to produce some outstanding wines in this category,” he said.

Encouraging everyone to experiment and try something new, Morris is on a mission to break down the stereotype that fortified wines are only for the older generations.

“One thing that I love to encourage is for people to experiment more with fortified. For example, our Morris Ruby, which when combined with tonic or soda water makes a refreshing Spritz, perfect for any sundowner – a trend that we are seeing more and more,” he said.

Coonawarra’s Paragon Wine Estates beat out 20 other countries to bring home the International Cabernet Sauvignon Trophy for their Riddoch The Pastoralist Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon 2021, priced at just $39.99 locally.

Tim Heath, Chief Winemaker at Riddoch Coonawarra, said: “John Riddoch started making wine in the Coonawarra in 1890, and in doing so established one of Australia’s greatest wine regions. Today, we’re proud to continue his legacy of crafting expressive wines that are a great representation of the region.

“Back in 2020, Matt (Reimann) and I set ourselves some fairly ambitious targets for the quality of wines we wanted to produce under the Riddoch Coonawarra name. Winemaking is about long-term effort and persistence, and if we’re completely honest, we thought it would take much longer than this to receive these kinds of accolades,” he said.

The win was the first for an Australian winery in this category for over a decade, with the winning wine described by judges as having “wonderful herbal cassis fruit” and “varietal typicity.”

Chris Hatcher and Steven Frost from Wolf Blass Wines were also shortlisted for the IWC Red Winemaker of the Year, with the award ultimately being awarded to Chile’s Rafael Urrejola from Viña Undurraga.

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