52stones rock at the Boutique Wine Awards
(Left to right: Darryn Rigg, myself and Peter Stanlake)
A little-known Western Australian micro-boutique producer has won the chardonnay trophy at the Boutique Wine Awards for the second successive year. The vineyard is 52stones, from the Ferguson Valley in the Geographe region. Owner of the vineyard and brand is Darryn Rigg, and winemaker is Peter Stanlake.
The 52stones Barrel Select Chardonnay 2014 won this year’s trophy for the best chardonnay, and followed that up with best white wine of show. Its 2013 chardonnay won the same chardonnay trophy in the 2014 Boutique Wine Awards. The chance of this happening is remote enough, but believe it or not, this year there was a double chance for 52stones.
Let me explain. There were eight gold medals in the chardonnay class. The three panel chairs, led by yours truly, tasted them blind and ranked them. The rankings were tallied, and it transpired that the top two wines – which we didn’t know until long afterwards – came from the same vineyard. The runner-up was 52stones Premium Reserve Chardonnay 2013.
The judges could have slapped themselves on the back because of the consistency of judging. These two wines had originally been judged and allotted their gold medals by different judging panels, because the large chardonnay class had been split in two for easier judging. In fact, I chaired the panel (with fellow judges Toni Paterson, Peter Leske and associate Conor van der Reest) that judged the 2014 wine and Gary Baldwin chaired the panel (including Geraldine McFaul, Nick Butler and associate Brad Wehr) that tasted the 2013. In the taste-off, I gave my first vote to the 2013 52stones and Paterson and Baldwin both gave the 2014 theirs. I don’t normally disclose such behind-the-scenes details, but it just goes to show how conclusively these wines dominated.
The other golds, for the record, were Aravina Estate (tastings) Wildwood Ridge 2014, Hutton Triptych 2013 (previous tastings), McLeish Estate 2013 (tastings), Mt Jagged (tastings) Honey Myrtle 2014, Palmer Wines 2013, and Rosily Vineyard 2014 (previous tastings). So, six out of eight WA wines, four of those from Margaret River.
52stones vineyard is in a high 300-metre altitude site, and the Ferguson Valley is two hours south of Perth. Features of the 2014 wine, according to the maker, are hand-picking; ‘low intervention’ fruit; whole-bunch pressing; free-run juice goes direct to barrels; wild fermentation; high percentage of malolactic; 44% new French oak.
Darryn Rigg said the Boutique Wine Awards offered a great opportunity for smaller wineries to make a name for themselves.
“As a small winery we don’t have a cellar door,” he said. “Being able to put the awards on the bottle is a great way to make our wines stand out in a competitive market.”
The best pinot noir, best red wine and wine of the show was a Kiwi pinot: 2013 Mount Brown Estates Grand Reserve Pinot Noir, from the Waipara Valley. Congrats to all the winners.
The full results can be viewed at www.boutiquewines.com.au.