25 September 2023

Xanadu wins Jimmy Watson Trophy

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By John Rozentals.

The Xanadu team with the Jimmy Watson Trophy.

And the winner is … Xanadu 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon. This year’s Jimmy Watson Trophy, awarded annually to the best young red wine at the Royal Melbourne Wine Show headed west to Margaret River for the sixth time since the inaugural award was presented in 1962, shortly after Jimmy’s death.

Arguably the most prestigious award on the Australian wine-show circuit, the trophy was donated by devotees of the late Jimmy Watson, a famous Melbourne wine-bar owner who made his name by buying quality young reds in barrel and selling them by the glass.

It was initially awarded to the show’s top one-year-old dry red but has been expanded to include two-year-old reds as well, presumably in response to criticism that many winners hadn’t yet been bottled.

The trophy has been dominated by shiraz and cabernet though a few years ago a Victorian pinot noir (Yabby Lake 2012 Block 1) snuck through the ranks and grabbed it.

Anyway, well done to Xanadu. The team there has produced some stunning reds and whites from Margaret River over the years and it was certainly one of the pioneering wineries in that region.

I was lucky enough to be invited to the dinner at Melbourne’s legendary Mietta’s when Hardys won the 1988 Jimmy with a 1987 Padthaway cabernet.

Alan Watson, son of Jimmy, and Sir James Hardy, then head of the Hardy clan and famed yachtsman, were both there and I remember it as a grand occasion at which a fine time was had by all.

Winning a Jimmy is a big deal, especially since Wolf Blass made the most of his three successive wins in the mid-1970s.


Xanadu 2015 Exmoor Cabernet Sauvignon ($18): I haven’t yet snaffled a taste of the Jimmy Watson winner but this relatively bargain-priced offering exemplifies Margart River cabernet through its truckload of plummy, blackcurrant fruit flavours. Pair it with a bowl of red-sauced pasta or, better still, a couple of grilled lamb fillets.

Xanadu 2017 Exmoor Chardonnay ($18): I really enjoyed a couple of glasses of this fresh, uncomplex fruit-driven style of dry white. It’s perfect for an excursion to your favourite Italian bistro for a dish of grilled veal with a creamy mushroom sauce. I can feel the hunger coming on.


Tim Adams 2015 Cabernet Malbec ($25): It’s hardly surprising that Tim regards tis blend so highly. After all, he did spend his formative winemaking years as an apprentice to Mick Knappstein who created the Clare Valley’s iconic Leasingham Bin 56 using this blend of red grapes in the 1950s. It’s a serious, mouth-puckering red with many, many years of rewarding cellaring ahead of it. Buy a case and lay it down for the long haul.

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