Well, what an epic year 2018 has been!
It has been the biggest year ever for our growing business with a fresh new website, thousands of new and exciting wines and spirits, dozens of new producers and our first toe dipped into the big, beautiful world of imported wines. It went by in a flash.
Thank you all so much for all of your support and enthusiasm, we look forward to bringing you bigger and better things next year. We've got some big plans for 2019 which we think you're going to love (but more on that front coming soon)!
And so, without further ado, we proudly present to you our 2018 Producers of the Year. We are lucky enough to work with hundreds of Australia and NZ's very best independent vignerons and winemakers. There were many, many times we were blown away in 2018 but these were the highlights that stood out to us.
Each of these producers are thoroughly deserving of a place in your wine rack or cellar. If you haven't tried their wares, now is the time.
Producer Of The Year
For our 2018 Producer of the Year, it was impossible to go past the flawless Yarra Valley wines of Luke Lambert.
It was a year of perfection from Lambert, where every single wine he released was nothing short of sublime. From the exquisite 2017 Luke Lambert Syrah and Chardonnay, to his benchmark Nebbiolo and the superb value Crudo range, it was hit after hit after hit from Luke.
Sadly, his wines are all but sold out. There are a precious few dozen of his 2017 Crudo Shiraz and Rosé still available if you're quick. What a year it was for this Yarra Valley superstar. Our Producer of the Year could have gone to no other.
Breakout Act Of The Year
When young Angus Vinden walked in with his suite of fantastic new releases this year, it felt like he had fully arrived.
Angus has reimagined his family's winery over the last five years, taking his Hunter Valley label to new heights. His 2017 releases under the Vinden Headcase label are the very best we've seen from this young winemaker. He turned out some beautiful modern expressions of an ancient region. Hats off, Gus, we thought you smashed it this year.
Best Value Producer
John Hughes knocked it out of the park in 2018. His single-minded focus on producing world-class Riesling is yielding some of the most scintillating expressions of the variety to be found anywhere in the country. The quality to price ratio of his range is off the Richter scale.
And John is one of the nicest guys in all of Australian wine. We couldn't be happier to award him our 2018 Best Value Producer of the Year.
Best Avant-Garde Producer
Owen Latta is raising the bar in the small but vocal sphere of low intervention winemaking in Australia. With almost 20 vintages under his belt at just 34 years of age, Owen is blazing a brilliant trail as he moves into uncharted winemaking territory where tradition meets experimentation.
The wines coming from this young man are some of the most compelling in the country. Brave, honest, expressive and fundamentally delicious, in Owen's unique range is where natural wine and fine wine intersect.
Best DD Newcomer
Our first foray into international wine led us to meet with Rippon Vineyard owner/proprietor Nick Mills from NZ's Central Otago. It was one of the most inspiring wine days on our calendar this year.
Nick's holistic biodynamic approach to farming and winemaking has seen Rippon Vineyard become revered as one of the world's great winegrowing sites. The wines have power and structure with incredible finesse. The mouthwatering and profound wines of Rippon were the addition to the DD family that most excited us this year.
Producer To Watch
Vigneron Schmölzer & Brown
Tessa and Jeremy at VS&B were the obvious choice for our Producer To Watch award for 2018.
This year we got our first fleeting glimpse at the first release from their Thorley vineyard, high in the hills behind Beechworth. The first wine from that block, the 2017 Thorley Shiraz, was tantalising. Throw in some sensational Shiraz, Pinot and Chardonnay and the delightful pitch-perfect Pret-A-Range and you're looking at one of the most promising wine projects in the country taking flight.
A huge thanks to all the incredible independent producers who work with us. It's an absolute pleasure and a privilege for us to work alongside you. We look forward to seeing what 2019 brings!