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Sunday 22 November 2015

Meet the only Australian wine to win four Jimmy Watsons

It is the single most successful red wine on the Australian show circuit; the winner of no fewer than four Jimmy Watson trophies for best young red at the Royal Melbourne Wine Show and a total of 64 trophies and 298 gold medals to date.

The Wolf Blass Black Label red blend, first made in 1973 and an instant success, celebrates its 40th vintage next year. Once available for just a few dollars it now retails for $130 a bottle and is seen as an Australian benchmark.

“To have that kind of consistent success over 40 years is quite remarkable,” says Chris Hatcher, the winemaker tasked with carrying on the legacy of Blass and his winemaking sidekick John Glaetzer, who won the Watson trophy in 1974, 75, 76 and again in 1999. “There are not that many wines that can claim that kind of consistency over four or more decades.”

The Wolf Blass winemaking team with the maestro
The current release is the 2010, which didn't win the Jimmy Watson but has picked up its own swag of trophies and gold medals. As always, the blend changes from year to year (some years there is some malbec in the mix). This was a 51 percent cabernet and 49 percent shiraz blend from the Barossa, Langhorne Creek and McLaren Vale.

If you are looking to buy one as a Christmas present be warned the 2010 is already in short supply. The 2011, from an inferior vintage, was sold only at cellar door and the 2012 will not be released until March next year.

I was lucky enough to attend a recent tasting at which all four Watson winners (the 73 and 75 are still stellar) were lined up alongside some younger wines. What a treat! 

The 2010 is one of the very best Black Labels from an outstanding vintage and would make an excellent Christmas present for anyone with a wine cellar. 

It is unashamedly a big wine, voluptuous even, with delicious sweet fruit and great structure. It weighs in at 15 percent alcohol and the 60 percent plus new French oak has been sucked up into an impressive end product.  

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