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  • Liane Morris

Local Winery Wins Prestigious Award

Alex Beckett, Winemaker, Briar Ridge | Photo by Elfes Images

Boutique Hunter Valley winery, Briar Ridge Vineyard, wins “Other White (& Blends) Wine of the Year” with the 2021 Limited Release Albariño by winemaker Alex Beckett.


The Halliday Wine Companion Awards sets the industry benchmark for Australian wines each year. Eight judges from the wine industry including wine critic, founder and vigneron James Halliday AM and Tyson Stelzer, chief editor of the Halliday Wine Companion guide, tasted over 8000 wines from 50 different wineries in their search for the best of the best.

Widely considered one of the most prestigious and hotly contested awards in the country, the winners were announced on Wednesday August 3 at an awards ceremony held at the distinguished Stokehouse in St Kilda, Melbourne.

Winner of the 2023 “Other White (& Blends) Wine of the Year” with a gold medal score of 95 points was the 2021 Limited Release Albariño by local up and coming winemaker Alex Beckett for Briar Ridge Vineyard in the Hunter Valley.

Winemaker Alex Beckett also recently took out the Riedel 2022 Hunter Valley Young Achiever of the Year award that recognises exceptional talent and contribution to the wine industry by winemakers under the age of 35. Currently studying in the Institute of Masters of Wine Study Program (one of only 13 students in the country), he is passionate about his innovative work at Briar Ridge and excited about receiving the recognition.

“It is an absolute honour to have our Hunter Valley Albariño be recognised as the best other white in Australia by James Halliday and the Wine Companion Tasting Team,” said Alex.

“The last few years have seen our team put tireless work into evolving the viticulture and winemaking behind our wines so to have that quality recognised is a wonderful feeling. Albariño is fast becoming to us, one of the key varietals for our region and we look forward to seeing the variety’s future success around Australia.”

Judge Ned Goodwin MW (Master of Wine) originally reviewed the 2021 Limited Release Albariño in October last year and had this to say in praise, “Maker Alex Beckett has a good handle on this … Everything done right … Albariño’s pithy stone, frangipani, saline oyster shell to white pepper riffs are not subsumed, but accentuated. Fine textural detail, energetic trajectory and succulent length, the whirl of acidity whetting the palate for the next glass. This is exceptional. Kudos!”

Considered a niche variety with less than ten producers in Australia, Albariño is from the Northern part of Spain in an area called Rais Bixas where it is one of the country’s most fashionable white wines. Lovers of Sauvignon Blanc should enjoy Albariño.

“Albariño as a varietal has all the aromatics, texture, weight and flavour concentration yet always finishes very clean,” said Alex Beckett. “The 2021 Limited Release Albariño in particular, is really floral and super aromatic with a freshness and vibrancy that on the palate is just incredible.”

“It’s the melding together of the old and the new that makes Briar Ridge so interesting – it’s certainly why I enjoy doing what I do. I have the creative freedom to play and experiment and build upon that tradition, respecting what has been done but also improving it as we move on.”

Owner of Briar Ridge Vineyard, Jaclyn Davis is excited about the future of the winery with Alex as winemaker.

“This is a humbling recognition of the work our family and the Briar Ridge team have been putting into experimenting with new varieties and wine styles,” said Jaclyn. “With an ever-changing climate, varieties like Albariño will be an important component of the Australian wine landscape in the coming decades. We are proud to be part of the forefront, championing these varieties of the future as well as preserving the heritage of our country through classic varieties and wine styles.”

Briar Ridge Vineyard is celebrating their 50th Jubilee this year in November with a members only Long Lunch in the Dairy Hill Vineyard, where it all began in 1972. For those keen to experience everything Briar Ridge has to offer, including the award winning Albariño, the cellar door is open 7 days per week with live music on Sundays. There is also Osteria, an Italian home-style restaurant and winter fireside picnic packages available. It’s also not too late to become a member of the Hunter Valley’s longest continually run contemporary wine club and join in the 50th Jubilee celebrations later in the year.

Michael Bentley GM, Jaclyn Davis Owner, Alex Beckett Winemaker at Hallidays Awards


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