Morris Wines

Australian fortified and red wines take trophies at the prestigious IWSC competition

November 19, 2020
By Ioni Doherty

Morris Wines awarded International Wine Producer of the Year

Wolf Blass awarded International Red Producer of the Year

Australia has been recognised for its outstanding fortified and red wine production at the 2020 International Wine and Spirit Competition (IWSC) in London overnight.

Morris of Rutherglen Wines took the top prize for Outstanding Wine Producer of the Year in recognition of its fortified wines, and the Barossa Valley’s Wolf Blass, one of the world’s most successful and awarded wineries, has been named International Red Producer of the Year.

Morris of Rutherglen has been shortlisted for Wine Producer of the Year a number of times. To win it was something fifth-generation and current Morris family Chief Winemaker, David Morris, has had minor hopes for many times.

By taking the top fortified wine prize, Australia has effectively broken thew stronghold of the category, long held by Spain and Portugal.

“But then to get Outstanding Wine Producer of the Year is not something we would even think possible. It is unbelievable,” said Morris as he took a break from his morning sampling 80 durifs to work out the next blend.

He awoke to an email delivering the news at 6.00am this morning and said that it brought a smile to his face.

Sweeping the board with their world-class wines, Morris of Rutherglen NV Cellar ReserveGrand Tawny and NV Cellar Reserve Grand Muscat were also awarded wine trophies along with five gold medals at this year’s IWSC.

Morris believes the wins are an opportunity not just for his family’s brand that was acquired by Casella in 2019, but also an opportunity to showcase the exceptional Rutherglen region and Australian winemaking expertise to the world.

“It’s a great privilege to accept these trophies. These are some of the most significant wine awards we have received in our 160 year history and I am proud and delighted to accept them on behalf of five generations of Morris family winemakers,” he said.

As to the celebrations, after the durif sampling, “I’ll have a smile on my face. I’ll tell my wife and choose a beverage to toast the success. Don’t even know what it is yet…maybe a Riesling,” said Morris before he returned to tasting alongside his father.

Wolf Blass Chief Winemaker, Chris Hatcher, is thrilled to be recognised for the fourth time. He has been with Wolf Blass for all four of the IWSC wins having worked there for more than thirty years. For the last win in 2013, Hatcher celebrated in London with Steven Frost and Wolf Blass himself.

“We treasure awards won at respected international wine competitions as they are a true, independent assessment of our wines from some of the most experienced and respected wine judges in the world,” said Chris speaking from the Barossa Valley.

Wolf Blass Wines won the highly acclaimed IWSC Winemaker of the Year award for the first time in 1992, followed by 2002 and then again in 2013.

Just a bit of history about the award and its permutations: the award was entitled titled ‘International Winemaker of the Year’, and won by Wolf Blass in 1992, 2002 and 2013.

This year, the award has been revised and re-categorised to cover all countries with separate categories for ‘Red’, ‘White’, ‘Sweet’, ‘Sparkling’ and ‘Fortified’ Producers of the Year.

The winner of these awards then compete for Outstanding Winemaker of the Year which Wolf Blass won in 1992, 2002 and 2013 and which Morris Wines has won this year.

Wolf Blass Winemaker Chris Hatcher

“With an award like this, we are benchmarked against the whole world. Seventy per cent of Wolf Blass wines are exported and the UK and Europe have been strong markets for us since the mid-1980s. It reinforces our market presence there and, more than that, it is great for the reputation and image of Australian wines as a whole.

 “As a winery, we thrive on producing award winning wines and it is humbling that Wolf Blass continues to be so well received at an international level, helping pave the way for Australian wines.”

The Wolf Blass winemaking team had planned a celebratory lunch but with South Australia having gone into hard lockdown, they will have to put the celebration and catch up with the winery’s namesake on hold.

“This is a very special reward and recognition of the dedication and hard work our winemaking and viticultural teams put into making exceptional quality wines and I am extremely proud of them,” he said.

Instead, Chris will crack open a bottle of ‘French fizz’ that he has on ice to share with his wife.

The IWSC was established in 1969 and is recognised as one of the world’s most prestigious and influential wine competitions with exhibitors from almost 90 countries as well as boasting one of the most highly qualified and trained group of international judges of any wine and spirit competition.

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