Chalkers Crossing cleans up at Sydney Royal Wine Show

Celine Rousseau

Chalkers Crossing winemaker Celine Rousseau (Photo: Huon Hooke)

It’s the nine-times trophy-winning wine that almost never was.

Chalkers Crossing CC2 Hilltops Shiraz 2014 comes from a vineyard that was truly saved by the bell. The wine won French-born, Aussie-citizen winemaker Celine Rousseau five trophies including the Dr Gilbert Phillips Trophy for the best red wine of the show at the 2016 Sydney Royal Wine Show, announced last Thursday evening.

Says Rousseau:

“Chalkers Crossing (established by Ted Ambler) was sold in 2012 to a Hong Kong company and I stayed on as winemaker. The plan was to increase production from 7,000 cases a year to 14,000. So we bought an established Hilltops vineyard at an auction.”

It was the Murray vineyard, which she knew had supplied grapes to Westend (Calabria) Wines (tastings). Celine heard about the sale, went to the auction, bid, and bought the vineyard all on the same day. There were 17 planted hectares, and the vines were set to be pulled out.

“I could see that this vineyard would produce very good shiraz, so we saved it.”

Celine’s second vintage from these vines, the 2014 CC2 Shiraz, is a superb wine which has truly ‘cleaned up’. It had won four other trophies (three at the one show) prior to the Sydney Royal. The tally is now nine and counting.

It’s a spicy, modern, fruit-driven style of shiraz with ultra-soft tannins and a slinky, polished texture. It’s superb drinking now, and for the next few years, although it’s arguably not structured to age for the long-term.

Accepting her final trophy for best red wine of show, Celine said,

“Hilltops is an underrated region. It is still an emerging region, which deserves to be better known.”

The best part is the price: $22. It’s Chalkers Crossing’s (tastings) second-string shiraz: the dearer shiraz comes from the original vineyard, Rockleigh. Murray’s vineyard crops a week later than Rockleigh as it’s a little higher – 650 metres altitude. Only 30% of the wine went into wood – for nine months, which explains the fruit-driven style.

In addition to the Gilbert Phillips, the wine won trophies for best shiraz, best value red wine, best small producer wine, and the Len Evans Trophy for best single vineyard wine.

As for Celine, she’s off sailing. She and a group of friends own a 27-foot yacht which is kept on Sydney Harbour and the all-female crew will be taking it up to Hamilton Island for race week in August. She says the boat is a bit too small to win anything, but she probably also thought that about her junior $22 shiraz. When your luck is in, who knows?

3 thoughts on “Chalkers Crossing cleans up at Sydney Royal Wine Show”

  1. Responsible says:

    Undrinkable swill. Once again demonstrating the untrustworthy marketing that is wine show awards

    1. Mahmoud Ali says:

      “Undrinkable swill”? Seems a bit harsh. Why so?

    2. Huon Hooke
      Huon Hooke says:

      Yes, very harsh. And I don’t see what it has to do with marketing? You are at liberty to disagree with the wine show system but to call a wine ‘undrinkable swill’ is a judgement of its quality – and enjoying wine is about tolerating a wide range of views on style and quality.

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