WA’s great champion
MARGARET River’s Cullen family have already had their name used for two major wine industry awards but, with industry support, has decided to give their own Cullen Award for Excellence.
James Halliday, the doyen of Australian wine writers, was the deserved and much lauded inaugural recipient.
What has Halliday done for the Western Australian wine industry to receive such an honour?
For one, his The Australian Annual Top 100 wine column is this country’s single most awaited, image-creating and influential wine-selling tool for wineries, wholesalers and retailers.
From just 4 per cent of Australia’s grapes in 2015, Western Australia gained 32 of the 80, or 40 per cent of The Top 100’s table wines.
The second example would be in Halliday’s annual Australian Wine Companion, the industry’s major and essential wine reference for both consumers and the industry.
In it, he ranks 4000-7000 wines per year and lists his preference in each style.
For a state with just 4 per cent of the Australian grape crush, his preferences are telling.
In the 2016 edition, six of the highest 17 rieslings were from the West.
WA gained the two highest pointed SBS blends and seven of the top eight plus the top sauvignon blanc and three of the best six. The West gained the highestpointed chardonnay and nine of the next 29.
The State gained the highestpointed cabernet blend and six of the seven highest-pointed cabernet sauvignons.
It would be impossible to estimate the extraordinary benefits of Halliday’s opinionated and insightful championing of the quality of WA’s wines
No other national Australian wine writer consistently and openly reviews West Australian wines with points that so closely reflect the seven masked capital city show results.
For many, unfortunately, Halliday’s irreplaceable impact on the national and international growth and imagery on the Western Australian wine industry will be realised only on his retirement.
The selection committee for the Cullen Award for Excellence has made a wonderful choice in acknowledging him as the greatest national friend the WA wine industry ever had.
James Halliday and Vanya Cullen.