In a return to South Australia after an absence of 7 years, and on its first ever visit to the Adelaide Hills, the renowned James Watson Memorial Trophy (Jimmy Watson) has been awarded to SC Pannell Wines 2013 Adelaide Hills Syrah.

Widely regarded as Australia’s most significant wine show award, and perhaps the only Australian domestic trophy capable of attracting serious international interest and exposure, the Jimmy Watson is awarded to the best red wine of show at the annual Royal Agricultural Society of Victoria’s Melbourne Wine Show.

Stephen Pannell, who had previously won the award in 1996 during his tenure at Hardy’s as chief red winemaker, was understandably delighted with the result: “Winning the Jimmy Watson Trophy is a huge honour, and a great acknowledgement for the first ten years of hard work for all of the SC Pannell Wines team.

“I am particularly excited that the Jimmy Watson has gone to a wine whose style and expression speaks of place, and that also has the ability to touch a wide audience – at AUD$30 retail, it is a wine for drinkers, rather than collectors.”

With the market recently moving away from the fuller-bodied styles of wine that typically thrive in warmer climates – and having found favour in the past two years with Tasmanian Shiraz and Mornington Peninsula Pinot Noir respectively – it had been widely speculated that Australia’s most famous wine trophy had ‘done-its-dash’ with South Australia.

“I have always been interested in the struggle between power and intensity on the one hand, and delicacy and detail on the other. I just don’t see the point in letting the fruit get so ripe and alcoholic that the wine ends up being a study in corrected acidity, sweet oak and added tannin. I am looking more for fruit that is still ‘alive’, with natural balance and good tannins.”

Pannell further explained: “In a sense, this is a great illustration of the ongoing journey of Australian wine, coming from a region originally founded on sparkling, then later recognised for Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay, and now adding distinctive Shiraz/Syrah to its list of accomplishments.”

“I just try to create wines that suit our climate and way of life – wines to drink with the food we grow, make and eat in Australia. That is really the opportunity we see, and why we have just opened our first cellar door. Now I hope people come in to check out the new Jimmy!” Pannell concluded.