Morris major: winemaker sweeps 2018 fortified category

Posted on Nov 29, 2018

If this looks like an advertisement for Morris Wines, we apologise – it’s not. (We don’t trade cash for comment if you were wondering).

But it’s a rare thing for a single winemaker so completely dominate their category that they account for the top six wines in it. Especially when that category is the single most awarded category at Australian wine shows.

Fortified wine production is the genesis and still the pride of Australian winemaking. Scores in this venerable category vaulted above all others in 2017 with a median score of 90 (the threshold for silver) and a medal strike rate of 81%. That compared with the next best category, riesling, which enjoyed a median score of 87 and a strike rate of 67%.

We haven’t tallied scores for all categories in 2018 yet but it’s a fair guess that fortified will retain its place on top of the wine show hill.

Nevertheless, Morris Wines’ dominance of this year’s fortified category made us wonder if we’d made a mistake with this year’s rankings. We’re the first to admit the winery’s ubiquitous presence on the show scene this year helped it as we reward wines for more numerous entries than fewer. But it’s only one factor in our formula and a wine with many low-scoring entries can be beaten by a wine with just one stellar score.

But Morris deserves its place in the sun. The top-scoring wine, the Cellar Reserve Grand Liqueur Topaque, received nine gold medals out of its total 12 entries. The second-placed label – the Old Premium Rare Liqueur Muscat, won nine from 11.  Third-placegetter got seven from 12. By the time a non-Morris label made the rankings at seventh place the Penfolds Grandfather Rare Tawny mustered a still-creditable four golds from seven entries.

Morris’ top seven wines were confined to variants of muscat to topaque (tokay) ranging from $60 for the top-scoring Cellar Reserve Grand Liqueur Topaque which only sells at cellar door. The fourth-placed Morris Classic Liqueur Muscat can be bought at major retailers for as little as $16.

The yawning price differences are largely explained by age. “Classic” labels are aged up to five years in oak while “grand” wines sit around for a decade before making it into the bottle. “Rare” wines are even older at 15 or more years.

Morris’ entries sat atop 376 individual entries this year – nine fewer than last year. Wines were also submitted less often with the average label being exhibited less than twice in 2018 compared with 2.18 times in 2017. The top 20 wines are listed below in alphabetical order:

1847 Wines 40 Year Old Rare Tawny NV
Chateau Yaldara 20 Year Old Tawny NV
De Bortoli Black Noble NV
De Bortoli Old Boy’s 21 Year Old Aged Tawny NV
De Bortoli Show Liqueur Muscat NV
Grant Burge 20YO Muscat NV
Grant Burge 20YO Tawny NV
Grant Burge Wines PX Black Apera NV
McWilliam’s Show Reserve Muscat NV
McWilliam’s Show Reserve Tawny NV
McWilliam’s Show Reserve Topaque NV
Morris Cellar Reserve Grand Liqueur Muscat NV
Morris Cellar Reserve Grand Liqueur Topaque NV
Morris Cellar Reserve Grand Tawny NV
Morris Classic Liqueur Muscat NV
Morris Classic Liqueur Topaque NV
Morris Old Premium Rare Liqueur Muscat NV
Morris Old Premium Rare Liqueur Topaque NV
Penfolds Grandfather Rare Tawny NV
Saltram Mr Pickwick’s Rare Particular Tawny NV


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