It is hard to believe that it has already been 30 years since Elderton was thrown into national, and furthermore into international prominence, as a result of winning the 1993 Jimmy Watson at the Melbourne Wine Show. The fact that we also had the runner-up in the show, with our 1992 Estate Shiraz, made the victory even more remarkable.
In August 1993, Neil and Lorraine had an inkling that there could something on the cards when they were invited to attend the announcement. And as you may have heard Cam and Al recount a number of times, Neil was a little put out by the fact that the Cabernet won, and not the Shiraz. He even made mention in the acceptance speech!
The trophy win for our 1992 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon forever changed the lives of our family
This quote, from Neil in AAP News Report on 20 August 1993 is a great insight into what it meant:
“It’s a fitting vindication of the Elderton tenacity and undiminished faith in the future of the great red wines of the Barossa tradition.”
Neil Ashmead, 1993
This snippet from the Buzz newsletter in November 1993 describes what the Jimmy Watson Trophy is and meant at the time:
The Jimmy Watson Memorial Trophy celebrates the life and times of the late Jimmy Watson – proprietor of a Lygon Street, Melbourne, wine bar still owned and operated by his son Allan. First awarded in 1961, the trophy was originally bestowed on the best year-old claret or burgundy-styled wine at the Melbourne Wine Show. In 1985, eligibility was extended to include the show’s three main young red classes – shiraz, cabernet sauvignon, pinot and other varieties (and blends).
A list of winners comprises a virtual roll call of the great names of post-war Australian winemaking.
By far the best known trophy on the Australian wine show circuit, the Jimmy Watson has of recent years developed into a shoot out between Coonawarra and the Barossa – two areas which between them dominate the winner’s list.
The commercial importance of the trophy stems from the overwhelming public recognition of the Jimmy Watson as Australia’s premier wine award. The trophy does, however, have its critics, most of whom point out with some justification that, at the ripe old age of 15-16 months (the average age at which the wines are assessed by the show judges), a red wine is not necessarily displaying the same characteristics that it will offer on release with some bottle age.
While this criticism is valid, it is also true that the majority of Jimmy Watson winners have continued to show their worth years after receiving the accolade and that in the quest to win Australian winemakers have rewritten the world understanding of making wine. The world over, Australian wines are winning a reputation for wines which exhibit clean, fresh, full varietal characters and are very pleasant, early, easy drinking. Mr Watson your trophy has contributed to the Australian wine export phenomena!
Snippet from Elderton’s Buzz Newsletter, November 1993
To commemorate 30 years since the win, we recently opened a bottle of the winning 1992 Cabernet Sauvignon. To taste this wine again was quite remarkable.
Andrew Calliard MW wrote about tasting the wine on his The Vintage Journal (read the full article):
“When Elderton won the Jimmy Watson Trophy in 1993, it established the winery’s reputation as one of the Barossa Valley’s marquee producers…the Jimmy Watson Trophy winning 1992 Elderton Cabernet Sauvignon which is still in very good condition with intense cassis, wax polish, chocolaty, roasted chestnut, hint leathery aromas and flavours, fine grainy tannins, wonderful mid palate viscosity and mineral length (97 Points).”
Andrew Calliard MW
Since this life changing win we have not rested on our laurels. We have gone through generational change, bought three amazing vineyards, built one of the Barossa’s best winemaking facilities and relocated our award-winning Cellar Door to the family homestead. We continue to recruit a team of talented and dedicated people to help us continue to do what we love.
On top of all of this, we also have the best customers! Without all of you this wouldn’t be half as much fun!
Here is some of the press at the time: