Nagambie winemaker and Heathcote grapes short-listed for wine award

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The finalists for the coveted Young Gun of Wine best winemaker award have been announced — and three have local connections.

Fifty winemakers from across the country have been shortlisted for the industry-leading award.

Among the 50 are 17 from Victoria, including Matthew Purbrick, Jean-Paul Trijsburg and James Scarcebrook.

Mr Purbrick runs Minimum Wines with his wife Lentil.

The label is an organic, carbon-neutral and wild-fermented brand created from vineyards outside Nagambie.

Minimum Wines was launched in 2019 after Mr Purbrick was gifted a section of vineyard from his family, which owns Tahbilk Winery, in 2016.

The Purbrick pair started by transitioning the site to organic and sequestering significant amounts of carbon.

“In that incredibly short period of time, we are seeing measurable increases in soil life, massive increases in natural resistance to pests and disease,” Mr Purbrick said.

“Every year the flavours are getting more layered and nuanced.”

From 2020, the Purbricks only wild-fermented and from 2021 onwards won’t be filtering any of the wine.

“I want to do this so that all our wines remain alive in the bottle,” Mr Purbrick said.

“For me wine is a simple thing, my aim is to not complicate it.”

The other two shortlisted winemakers — Mr Trijsburg and Mr Scarcebrook — are based elsewhere but use grapes from the Heathcote region in their wines.

Mr Trijsburg works out of Ballarat on the self-named Jean-Paul label, which he mainly sells through farmers’ markets.

“I enjoy showcasing grapes and regions that people might not have heard of and seeing people embrace new things,” he said.

“I feel really lucky to be in an area where I have access to such diverse climates and terroirs within a 150 km radius.”

Mornington Peninsula-based Mr Scarcebrook also sources grapes from Heathcote for his Vino Intrepido label.

“I have learned the hard way about working with the grower and the fruit, rather than stubbornly sticking to the original plan and trying to get something out of grapes that are not suited for a style,” he said.

“For me, it is vital that the right varieties are selected from the right source.”

This year is the 15th anniversary of the top winemaker award.