Three wine show trophies
Wine show trophies are named in memory of significant people* in the wine industry, but how many of these names mean anything to the punter who picks up the medal-encrusted bottle in the bottle-shop?
There’s a story behind every one, of course. Here are three wine trophies, and a brief story of the person behind each one.
The Jimmy Watson Trophy
Jimmy Watson was the proprietor of the eponymous Melbourne wine bar in Lygon Street, Carlton between 1935 and 1962. A champion of Australian wine, he was a true pioneer, organising trips to vineyards as early as the 1940s and selecting particular barrels of wine from various wineries to be brought back to Melbourne and bottled for sale in his wine bar.
After his death in February 1962, a group of friends and customers established the perpetual Jimmy Watson Trophy for the best one year old red, still in barrel, at the Royal Melbourne Wine Show – now the Royal Melbourne Wine Awards. The controversy over giving an award to an unfinished, unbottled wine eventually inspired the show’s organisers to change the specifications, so the prize could be restricted to bottled wines. However, there was considerable resistance from the Watson family, as the reason it had been awarded to young red wines in the first place was that these were the kinds of wines Jimmy served in his wine bar. The trophy originally went to the best previous vintage red wine; now it’s for the best one or two-year-old red wine, and the show is judged later in the year so more young reds can be eligible.
The most recent winner was Turkey Flat Grenache 2016 last year. This year’s award will be announced next week, on October 18.
The Douglas Lamb Perpetual Trophy
Douglas Lamb was a Sydney wine importer and wholesale distributor. He was sent to Cambridge University to study law but fell in love with wine while there, which changed his life. His exasperated father was once heard to exclaim: “Exactly which bar is Douglas studying for?” He returned home and in 1951 set up Douglas Lamb Wines. He was one of the great characters of the Sydney wine scene from the 1950s to the ‘90s. His son John, now deceased, and grandson David have continued his business as Lamb Family Wines. They still import many of the wines Douglas began importing, such as Louis Sipp Alsace wines, Lucien Crochet Sancerre, Lupé-Cholet Burgundies, Domaine Durban and Château Roumieu-Lacoste Sauternes.
Doug was a great lover of riesling, and the Douglas Lamb Perpetual Trophy is awarded to the best riesling at the Sydney Royal Wine Show. This year it went to the 2015 Peter Lehmann Wigan Riesling.
The Hugo Gramp Memorial Trophy
Hugo Gramp was the managing director of Orlando Wines, the Barossa Valley wine company that his grandfather Johann Gramp founded when he died in a shocking plane crash on Mount Dandenong in 1938. The crash of the Kyeema claimed the lives of all 18 on board, including Thomas Hardy and Sidney Hill Smith, leaders of Hardy’s and Yalumba wineries respectively. Hugo had taken over as managing director of G. Gramp & Son (which became Orlando) in 1920 at the age of 25. He led the company through a period of unprecedented growth. The St Hugo brand was created in 1983 as a tribute. Hugo’s son Colin Gramp, who also managed Orlando, still lives in the Barossa at the age of 97.
The Hugo Gramp Memorial Trophy is awarded at the Barossa Valley Wine Show for the best current vintage riesling. This year it went to Rieslingfreak No. 4 Eden Valley Riesling 2018.
*I cannot think of a single wine show trophy named after a woman. Attention: Fabulous Ladies Wine Society!