If you haven’t heard, the recent Royal Melbourne Wine Awards in October declared the best young red wine as Bleasdale Wine’s 2018 The Wild Fig SGM (a blend of Shiraz, Grenache and Mourvèdre). This earthy medium weight red wine with lifted blueberry fruit and cherry cola notes was awarded the Jimmy Watson award, returning this highly regarded trophy home to Langhorne Creek in South Australia.
The Jimmy Watson Memorial Trophy is awarded annually to the best one or two-year-old red wine and is named after the legendary Jimmy Watson. From 1935, Watson championed the introduction of fortified table wine to Melbourne, and eventually Australia, through his Carlton wine bar.
The first time the Jimmy Watson Trophy was awarded was in 1962 when it went to Stonyfell Wines for its Metala Cabernet Shiraz Claret, a winery with a reputation for quality wines from the Langhorne Creek region in the Adelaide foothills.
Langhorne Creek is a historic agricultural area where a handful of families make wines, graze cattle and sheep, run market gardens, create artisan bread and preserve their farm produce.
The team behind the latest Jimmy Watson winning wine, Bleasdale Wine’s Paul Hotker, Matt Laube and Robbie Potts enjoy the regions sunny days, cool evening breezes, beautiful soil fertility and excellent growing conditions and agree that it’s a place that's free of a level of pretentiousness that can come with good wine.
Bleasdale has been around for decades. Potts’, great-great-grandfather Frank arrived in South Australia on the first ship to land in the colony and established Bleasdale and Langhorne Creek itself. The earliest reference of a gold medal in the Royal Melbourne Wine Awards Melbourne is for the 1973 Bleasdale Vintage Port, interestingly the same as the first year in the Wolf Blass Jimmy Watson Trophy hat trick.
Bleasdale has received accolades in the Royal Melbourne Wine Awards for a number of years, but in 2019 the winery’s winnings hastened as the team took home two major trophies and eight medals.
After selling out of the winning wine in less than a week after the Jimmy Watson award announcement, Bleasdale’s General Manager Leigh Warren acknowledges the impact the win has had on business, “It really puts you on the national stage, it’s great for brand awareness and we’re pleased that it also raises the profile of Langhorne Creek.”
Going up against hundreds of wines in the Royal Melbourne Wine Awards 2019 judging process, Senior Winemaker Paul Hotker says The Wild Fig SGM triumphed because it was the right wine for the time, designed for early consumption as the Jimmy Watson should be; aromatic, moreish, generous and delicious.
As with all Bleasdale wines, the brief for The Wild Fig SGM was simple: to produce wines that are true to their origins, reflecting varietal and regional character, whilst evolving to remain contemporary.
Although The Wild Fig SGM 2018 vintage is now sold out the next vintage will be in the market soon and according to Warren shares many of the same traits; vineyard origins, varietal breakdown, winemaking and most of all deliciousness and drinkability. It is a drink after all!
Hotker can attest to its versatility. He likes it with flame-grilled chicken, a charcuterie platter, or alongside a big breakfast from with some decent bacon. For the vegetarians, he suggests pairing it with flame-grilled eggplant and/or grilled field mushrooms stuffed with blue cheese and roasted almonds.
Bleasdale distributes its wine nationally and products including the The Wild Fig SGM is available to purchase online.