“It’s a fantastic accolade for a small family-owned winery in the Barossa to win on the world stage.” This is what it means for Australian winemaker Joanne Irvine to have been awarded the best overall wine in the 2021 London Wine Competition for her Levrier 2015 Anubis Barossa Cabernet. Here she explains the immediate response she has had to the news, with orders coming in from around the world, and what impact it has had on her and her small winery team.
The London Wine Competition judges wines based on their quality, what they taste like, their value for money and their packaging and design. Click here to see all the winners and read below to see what it means for Australian winemaker, Joanne Irvine, to have the top wine in the event.
How does it feel to be the best overall wine in the world in the London Wine Competition?
I am extremely proud that my Levrier 2015 Anubis Barossa Cabernet scored so highly at this 2021 London Wine Competition.
I spent years with my small team bringing Levrier to life, from vineyard to final packaging, so I feel genuinely delighted to be recognised with these awards. To get top results on four categories and totalling three gold medals in one show feels amazing.
What do you think it will mean for the winery and your profile both in Australia and around the world?
Its already lifted our profile for a young brand that launched in 2017, even though I’ve been making internationally awarded wines for other people since the late 80s. We’ve already had enquiries regarding availability of the award winning wines from export market so profile has increased almost overnight.
Why did you decide to enter this competition in particular?
I was interested because it wasn’t just judged by wine show judges, it was judged by the world’s leading buyers, Master Sommeliers and MWs, which makes for more realistic feedback.
I also like the idea of being assessed on quality, value for money, packaging and flavour. It’s a fantastic accolade for a small family-owned winery in the Barossa to win on the world stage. World class wine shows like the London Wine Competition understand the importance of the creative process involved in making a beautiful work of art, both on the inside and the outside of the bottle, that really appeals to wine lovers.
The wine is designed by me, and my packaging ideas were from my concepts so it made sense to enter this competition.
Does the fact it is judged on quality but also its value for money and packaging and design make it more effective when talking to potential customers?
It is more realistic. We’ve been very brave with our packaging going against some traditions while embracing traditional vegan friendly wine making methods. I believed we needed to change to suit all generations of wine lovers so my wines have more genuine relevance, and stage presence on premise, while also standing out on retail shelves.
Where are you currently distributing the brand and how is that going?
I sell across Australia and into the UK at the moment. We are increasing sales in Australia in retail, on premise and my wine club.
How long has it taken you to craft this particular style of wine – what were the steps and lessons you learnt along the way?
I have been working with this specific vineyard fruit for many years and wanted to create a luscious deep rich cabernet from a certain soil type in a this vineyard in the Barossa. It’s all about understanding vineyard, and the oak influence on that particular batch of fruit flavours.
I used five different coopers who made barrels from three different French forests. The lesson was ‘don’t rush it’ the wine will tell you when it’s ready to be released.
What are the other key wines in your range and what are your hopes for them now on the back of this win?
I trust that this award will get people looking at the other wines I create. These include Shiraz, Zinfandel, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Pinot Gris, and my very rare and unique Adelaide Hills Sparkling Meslier Brut Rosé
What are your plans for export?
We’ve recently had enquiries from Japan, Hong Kong, USA and Denmark. Being a small producer we want to work with importers who understand small family owned quality wines.
Can you tell us some background to the winery and what your philosophy has been since starting out?
I always wanted to produce quality wines that looked good in their packaging and appealed to wine lovers around the world.
Having done vintages overseas and in Australia I learned to appreciate different styles of wine making in other regions which lead me to create my own style. Being born in the Barossa and living in wineries during my lifetime gave me an understanding of the importance of attention to detail and quality. With this in mind, I decided to design my own winery in the Barossa Valley.
What are your growth plans for the rest of the year?
Hopefully through this latest award recognition, people will start seeking out our wines however, I only create a limited amount each year.
If demand for my wines increases I may need to search for more vineyard fruit so people don’t miss out.
How has the last year been for you with the pandemic and how did you respond?
When sales slowed for a while during 2020, we worked closely with our restaurant friends and local businesses to assist them. We also created a campaign to help others and decided to donate a portion of wine sales to charities such as Meals on Wheels.
When local tourism re-commenced, I made sure I was ready by creating an appointment only dog friendly wine tasting experience at my winery.
How do you distribute your brands around the world and in the UK in particular?
It’s early days around the world however I work exclusively with House of Townend in the UK.
Anything else to say?
I would like to see more of these types of wine competitions created throughout the world where our wines are judged by their myriad of individual aspects, from a wine lover’s point of view.
- To find out more about the London Wine Competition click here.