A South Australian cabernet sauvignon that sells for $40 (£21) has been named the best in the world at the International Wine Challenge.
The 2021 Riddoch Pastoralist beat wines from more than 20 other countries to win the International Cabernet Sauvignon trophy.
The judges’ tasting notes described the drop as a “classic style” with blackcurrant, mint and “wonderful” herbal cassis on the palate, “finishing fresh”.
Each of the 6,000 entries in the British-based wine challenge were blind-tasted by a minimum of eight judges in April, with no pricing or producer information provided.
The Riddoch Pastoralist first had to score over 95 points out of 100 to win a gold medal, in order to progress to trophy judging against all other cabernet sauvignon from Australia in the show, and only then retasted a final time against all the other national trophy winners to be awarded the Champion Wine trophy.
The award-winning cabernet sauvignon was made by Riddoch’s chief winemaker, Tim Heath, and winemaker Matt Reimann in the Coonawarra wine region.
Heath said the greatest outcome of winning the prize was the recognition of the region at a global level as an amazing place to grow the grape varietal.
“The Coonawarra has a tiny and quite finite strip of a special red-clay soil type called terra rossa, which is a free-draining clay which sits over a big limestone shelf that was laid down millions of years ago under the sea.
“It’s quite cool because it’s close to the ocean and that special soil type is what cabernet sauvignon loves.”
Heath said the Riddoch label had put entries into the International Wine Challenge every year but this was the first in which they received an award. He said the difference with the 2021 vintage was the decision to go back to the drawing board with the wine-making process.
“We thought there was more to explore. We wanted to make something that was modern and relevant. So it’s fresh and brightly fruited, it’s silky and polished in terms of its mouthfeel.”
Receiving the award was a “lovely surprise”, Heath said. “It’s just really satisfying when you put your heart and soul into something.”
However, he said he’s not getting ahead of himself and will be getting back to work.
“At the end of the day, wine isn’t designed for racing. We’re not making race cars. The job of wine is to be delicious and to be enjoyed with a group of people around the table.
“When we’re making these wines, we’re not thinking about winning trophies and medals. We’re just focused on making decisions on a daily basis that help make the wine as good, as delicious and enjoyable as it can possibly be.”
Overall, Australia won 62 gold, 250 silver and 199 bronze medals in the challenge, coming second only to France, which continued its winning streak as the most awarded country in each medal category.
Australia also had significant success with its fortified wines, racking up a total of 24 medals including 13 golds in that category.
The co-chair of the International Wine Challenge, Sam Caporn, 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.
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