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Friday 16 October 2015

What to do if you missed out on Tasmania's Jimmy Watson Trophy-winning pinot noir

There was an air of excitement when I popped into the Home Hill cellar door this morning. "The phone hasn't stopped ringing since we opened," I was told. 

And a prominent local family had just popped in to buy a couple of cases. 

Home Hill, a six-hectare family-owned vineyard at Ranelagh, in Tasmania's southerly Huon Valley, this week scored a double triumph at the Royal Melbourne Wine Show, snapping up the famous Jimmy Watson Trophy for the best young red in the show, as well as the trophy for best pinot noir for its 2014 Kelly's Reserve.

It was only the second time a wine from cool-climate Tasmania had won the Jimmy Watson, arguably Australia's most sought-after wine award. 

Home Hill has been a regular award winner over the past few years; the wines punching well above their weight for owners Terry and Rosemary Bennett, whose children Kelly (after whom the winning wine is named) and Sean also work in the business.

"It's a good result for Tasmania, and for the Huon Valley," said Terry Bennett with massive understatement.

A key role at the brand is also played by winemaking/viciticultural couple Paul and Gilli Lipscombe, who make wines under their own Sailor Seeks Horse label from their vineyard a few kilometres away. 

The Bennetts may well have sold out of 2014 Kelly's Reserve Pinot Noir ($75) by the time your read this but there is a very good alternative available in the Home Hill 2014 Estate Pinot Noir ($38), which is every bit as good in my opinion. 

For those unfamiliar with Home Hill, the first vines were planted in 1994 with more gradually added over time. With total production around 2,000 cases, the wines are much in demand. Terry Bennett, a successful businessman, spends much of his time working in the sloping vineyard. 

Home Hill recently saw off some formidable competition from around the state to win the 2015 Tasmanian Vineyard of the year competition conducted Royal Agricultural Society of Tasmania. 

“The Home Hill vineyard presents as a fine example of canopy management producing high 
quality grapes for both sparkling and still wine production,” the judging panel said. 

“Terry and Sean Bennett achieve their required outcomes within a late season district, aiding the slow ripening of well flavoured fruit.”

The judges noted a feature of this year’s vintage was the even quality of disease-free fruit 
throughout the vineyard.

“Management is focused on quality fruit for premium pinot noir production. The different clonal blocks are harvested separately for individual wine production which provides for blending to obtain the premium lines.” 

The winery, which is home to an outstanding vineyard restaurant, also does its bit for charity, having twice recently hosted fund-raising charity concerts featuring Russell Morris.  

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