Australia triumphant at the IWSC Trophy presentation in London

October 20, 2023
By Melissa Parker

Top Shelf, Four Pillars, Curatif, Cape Mentelle and Larry Cherabino were amongst the Australian movers and shakers that came up trumps last night at the International Wine and Spirits Awards (IWSC) in London. The results establish Australia as a serious player in global drinks production.

The International Wine and Spirits Awards presented the winners of its 2023 Producer Trophies, and Communicator Trophies were awarded along with Business Awards and Emerging Talent Awards winners.

Well-established as a wine-producing region, Australia now flexes muscle on the world stage as a recognisable producer of first-class spirit with Four Pillars and Top Shelf receiving Producer of the Year and Curatif, RTD of the Year.

Cherabino was the shining light in the wine sector, winning both the Outstanding Wine Producer Trophy and the White Wine Producer Trophy. Cape Mentelle won the 2023 Old Vine Trophy.

Winner of IWSC 2023 Vodka Producer of the Year: Grainshaker

Judges congratulated Grainshaker on working with Australian farmers to create world-class vodkas from corn, wheat and rye grains. They said in a competitive spirits market like Australia, Grainshaker proactively celebrates the provenance of its vodka, all within the flavour context.

“The “grain-to-glass” movement has been making waves for many years, and our judges believe that Grainshakers are the leaders in it. They proactively promote it in everything they do, “It may be more time-consuming, more expensive to make, but we believe that drinkers deserve better,” said the Judges.

Grainshaker impressed the judges with its commitment to flavour, working with customers to innovate and ensure they are delivering the products that consumers want. The judges appreciated Grainshaker’s passion for the raw materials that go into its vodka.

From three based spirits, Grainshaker makes its award-winning modern-style vodka. The judges were particularly impressed by Grainshaker’s Wheat Vodka, awarding it a high gold with 98 points and commenting that it was “A stylish and versatile spirit. Light in body and gently warming, the palate shows great purity. Fresh citrus notes provide lift and balance amid the creamy mouthfeel. Very smooth offering showing good character on the finish.”

Winner of IWSC 2023 Gin Producer of the Year: Four Pillars

Four Pillars were awarded this accolade for the third time by the IWSC. No other gin producer has achieved this in the history of the IWSC.

Judges praised Four Pillars’ innovation, continually looking for the next big thing in gin. The judges commented that the brand “was doing something that the gin category needs,” including collaborations with past IWSC winners and winemakers. They said these collaborations showed a genuine willingness to take risks and extend a hand to fellow brands. However, the brand doesn’t solely look to innovate within the drinks industry; they have also ventured into food “Made-from-Gin” items. the judges loved the continual thirst for innovation, from botanical crackers to stillage-washed cheese, to name a few.

“This isn’t the only way Four Pillars strive to remain sustainable; their forward thinking and want to do more has meant they have reduced their carbon footprint through their energy usage, packaging and waste products and are on track to achieve Carbon Neutral certification, which is why last year the IWSC awarded Four Pillars with our inaugural Green Spirit Initiative Trophy,” said Judges.

“Four Pillars are ambassadors for gin, but also do so much for the welfare of their staff and the community of Melbourne, ensuring they are supporting the communities their craft depends on.”

Sponsors, The Gin Guild, expressed the importance of this Trophy to them, as it rewards the very best in spirit quality with ten medals awarded to their gins in our 2023 Awards, including two gold medals with 98 points for their Bloody Underhill Vineyard Shiraz Gin and Single Barrel S36 Gin.

Winner of IWSC 2023 RTD Producer Trophy: Curatif

This is the second year that Curatif was named our RTD Producer Trophy winner for the second year, winning the inaugural trophy last year.

IWSC said Curatif is the world’s leading producer of ready-to-serve cocktails, having been recognised around the globe for combining class-leading spirits, liqueurs, fresh ingredients and sophisticated manufacturing techniques.

IWSC judges believe that Curatif has established itself as an “evergreen presence” in the RTD category.

“As a new brand growing quickly, our judges were impressed with their steadfast commitment to a consistent product with no corners cut. This is evident with the many medals they took home at the 2023 IWSC Awards.

Their Archie Rose Espresso Martini was awarded a gold medal, with judges praising the “Gorgeously fragrant nose with big notes of roasted coffee beans, chocolate and vanilla. Sumptuously indulgent on the palate, with rich flavours of smooth cacao and toasted tonka beans. An elegantly creamy mouthfeel with an equally sweet, luxurious finish.”

Winner of IWSC 2023 Outstanding Wine Producer Trophy: Cherubino

Western Australian winemaking legend Larry Cherubino received the coveted Outstanding Wine Producer Trophy for his Cherubino wines, sponsored by Encirc.

One of the leading wineries of Western Australia, Cherubino’s rise to the fine wine producer Olympus has been truly remarkable, said the judges. Starting as negotiants in 2005, Larry and Edwina Cherubino bought their winery and vineyards in Margaret River, Pemberton and Great Southern.

This year, Cherubino was one of the leading producers, winning 16 medals.

The judges appreciated Cherubino’s gentle and thoughtful approach at the winery – avoiding over-maceration and using less oak, allowing the grape aromas and the terroir expression to shine through. The resulting wines are fresh and vibrant, offering fragrance, elegance and complexity without ever being overripe or heavy.

The judges were highly impressed with Cherubino’s application, which they described as heartfelt and passionate. “From vineyard to glass, they work hard to achieve the highest quality of their wines, and they put their heart and soul into every step of the way,” said the judges.

Winner of IWSC 2023 Old Vine Trophy: Cape Mentelle

The Old Vine Trophy was open to all 2023 awards entrants, with wines made from vines 35 years old and upwards.

The shortlist included renowned producers Cape Mentelle, Clairault Streicker, Hester Creek Estate Winery, Le Bertole di Bortolin and Terre Paisible. Having reviewed all the applications, the judges decided Cape Mentelle deserved to win.

The judges said Cape Mentelle demonstrated a holistic approach to preserving their old vines. The judges were impressed with Cape Mentelle’s work creating a nursery block to ensure access to heritage material for future plantings. It is equally essential Cape Mentelle educate their staff, building strong custodians of the heritage vineyards, said the judges. Cape Mentelle was presented with their award by The Old Vine Conference founder and IWSC Judging Committee Member Sarah Abbott MW.

Winner of IWSC 2023 White Wine Producer Trophy: Cherubino

The judges appreciated how, in recent years, Cherubino shifted towards lighter, fresher wine styles. To do so, they focused on cooler regions, which allow for better acidity retention. In the winery, they avoid over-maceration of berries for red and white wines and have minimised the use of small oak barrels.

“Customers now demand provenance, value and authenticity in the wines they purchase. Less oak and wines with a lighter touch, offering fragrance and vibrancy without sacrificing flavour, are important. All these decisions are not made in the winery but are driven in the vineyards through canopy management and irrigation strategies coupled with varietal and clonal selections; from the ground up, wines are borne and fined tunned,” said Larry Cherubino.

Cherubino’s medal performance in 2023 proves that the winery has chosen the right approach. With four gold (all of them awarded to their stellar Chardonnays), seven silver and five bronze medals, Cherubino is one of this year’s leaders overall.

Other Aussie Trophy wins

Margaret River as a region was on top with four wine trophies for its red wines: Clairault Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2020, Passel Estate Lot 71 Reserve Syrah 2018, Evans & Tate Redbrook Estate Cabernet Merlot 2020 and A. G. Oatley Wines Robert Oatley The Pennant Cabernet Sauvignon 2018

Leo Buring Leonay Mature Release Riesling 2017 from Eden Valley also received a trophy from South Australia, while Australian Vintage’s Tempus Two Lighten Up Pinot Noir 2022 won the Lighter Alcohol Trophy.

View IWSC 2023 results here.

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