The ninth Wine Society Young Winemaker of the Year Award 2009 was awarded to Margaret River-based Ryan Aggiss.

I thought I’d have a look at this award and taste some of the wines submitted. Entrants must be under 30 at the time of entry which is 30 August each year.

The Wine Society is a nonprofit Sydney-based organisation which packages and distributes wine to its own large direct subscriber base, and has been the source of inexpensive wine since its establishment in the 1950s.

Young winemaker of the Year entrants may nominate themselves or be nominated at their workplace, and do so by proposing three wines which they have been principally responsible for production. In 2009 there were 35 nominations,

The three wines may be two white one red or the reverse, or three white or three red provided that three single varieties are represented. Ryan Aggiss submitted two white (chardonnay, sauvignon blanc) and red. Finalist Stephen Oliver submitted three reds (merlot, cabernet sauvignon and shiraz).

The selection process continues with the Wine Society tasting panel tasting all wines, then ten finalists selected by aggregating the two best scores. These 20 wines are re-tasted with the winner coming from the highest score after more introspection of the wines on the short list.

Says the winner Ryan, WA-born, 29 years from Flying Fish, a Margaret River brand of nine years standing: “We make every day wine and I received this award for good brews which we make and sell for a good price.”

He was referring to Flying Fish Chardonnay 2008 AUD 16 which Ryan calls “light and tight” an unwooded chardonnay at 13%, eighty percent from one vineyard, twenty percent another.

I’d rather drink this style of linear chardonnay though not complexed by the oak process than the more popular New Zealand sauvignon which thankfully did not figure highly in this competition (92).

Ryan in his tastings of competitor wines thought his chardonnay “outshone New Zealand sauvignon blanc, hard riesling and raw Barossa Valley wines with sharp edges”.

The Flying Fish Cabernet Merlot 2008 AUD 16 (14.5%) is again a seamless wine with tantalising cabernet issuing from the glass, merlot in the background, as is oak, then a pile of blackcurrant and red berry flavour finishing soft and complete (94).

Aggiss has completed winemaking stints at Ravenswood (Napa), Hardys Tintara, Leasingham and at Ferngrove (WA).

Queenslander Stephen Oliver, 29 contested with Harrington Glen Shiraz 2006 (14.5%), Merlot 2007 (14%) and Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 (13.5%). His now mature blackcherry-driven shiraz AUD 25 (90) was dropped off the scoresheet when two wines were required to make the final.

The merlot AUD 25 (91) is outstanding, highly toned and aromatic, appealing charry oak, lovely fine powdery tannins push this wine to the top of the style pile. Its compact yet delicious.

The cabernet sauvignon AUD 30 (93) has a trophy; is partly leafy, full of blackcurrant and ripe aromas then into that backbone of tannin so important for aging and appreciating cabernet. This cabernet has the structure while Aggis’s wine was the powerhouse of fruit flavours.

Like the latest
wine & travel news

Subscribe to our mailing list and get interesting stuff and updates to your email inbox.