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Renowned judge joins ranks for Australia’s biggest certified organic wine competition

High-profile wine judge, Mike Bennie, will join the industry-leading judging panel that will preside over the 2021 Australian Organic Wine Awards in a contest to find Australia’s best-crafted organic drop.

Following last year’s success, the event has confirmed its position as an exciting annual event for Australian organic and biodynamic winemakers, who will bring their top-shelf varieties to the table for consideration at the competition.

Chief Judge of the show, Mike Bennie, an esteemed wine connoisseur with experience writing, judging and presenting at major industry events, said he was excited to see how new and innovative wine styles and varieties were developing within the organic wine community.

“The organic wine community has an important place in the winemaking industry and it’s an honour to be involved in tasting and promoting the craftmanship of Australian organic winemakers,” Mr Bennie said.

“Organic winemakers are highly skilled at developing wines that are pure in form and have extra special, unique flavours.”

Mike Bennie joins the judging panel for the 2021 Australian Organic Wine Awards

Mr Bennie encouraged organic producers from across Australia to enter their finest drops and embrace the opportunity to benchmark their wines against the best of their peers.  

“This is a fantastic chance for wineries to showcase their talents and raise the profile of their emerging drops, or garner recognition for their much-loved and established favourites,” he said.

Joining Mr Bennie on competition day will be an experienced panel of judges including Associate Judge Josh Martin, Judge Ramon Arnarvas and Judge Alex McPherson, a trio coming from a variety of wine backgrounds including writing, judging, buying and as sommeliers. Mr Bennie, Mr Arnarvas and Mr McPherson are Len Evans Scholars.  

The Australian Organic 2021 Market Report found the organic wine sector contributes 10% as a proportion of total export tonnage to the global market. It was also found that Sweden continues to favour Australian organic wine, with 40% of all organic wine exports heading to the nation.

Australian Organic Limited CEO, Niki Ford, said the peak body was pleased to support the industry and deliver a special event during what continue to be challenging times.

“Organic wine production contributes a large amount of money to Australia’s economy and is exported around the world. It’s important we recognise the role it plays in not only global trade, but local tourism too,” Ms Ford said.

“We are seeing more impressive results each year. Australian winemakers are refining their skills and adding innovative techniques to further enhance their wines.”

Applications for the Awards close on Friday 10 September 2021, with judging held later that month at Brisbane’s temperature-controlled iconic City Winery. There are multiple categories, ranging from sparkling to dessert wines.

Entrants must be certified organic, from any Australian certifying body, and have products commercially available.

The 2021 winner will receive a Cullen Wines trophy, case of Cullen wines, Riedel decanter and special feature article in a well-regarded industry publication. The winner will also receive national press and media promotion.

Last year the contest attracted almost 120 entries, with gold medals being awarded to wines from Angove Family Winemakers, Foxeys Hangout, Stefano Lubiana Wines and Robinvale Wines. Stefano Lubiana Wines won Wine of the Show with its 2018 Estate Chardonnay.

Ms Ford said she was looking forward to receiving entries for the awards and creating an occasion that celebrates and recognises Australia’s best organic wines.

“It’s a very exciting time for the organic wine industry which is seeing an increase in favourable attention amongst consumers, intensifying the market’s competitiveness,” Ms Ford said.

“We are particularly excited about our highly experienced judging panel this year and wish to congratulate Mike Bennie on joining the judging panel as Chair for the awards. Mike is an expert in the field, and we look forward to his adjudication in September.”

For more information on how to enter, visit the Australian Organic website.

The event also welcomes back sponsors Gourmet Traveller WINE, Riedel, Cullen Wines, City Winery, Wine Ark, and Organic Wine.