WA’s great cham­pion

Western Suburbs Weekly - - Wine -

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.

With John Jens

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