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The Jack Mann Memorial Medal recognises outstanding achievement among the State’s winemakers, and this year’s winner is a worthy recipient of the Wine Press Club of WA’s top gong, as David Pike reports.

THE Jack Mann Memorial Medal was introduced by the Wine Press Club of WA in 1990 in recognition of the legendary Jack Mann, MBE, an individual who was instrumental in establishing the reputation of the Western Australian wine industry.

The medal recognises those who have made a significant contribution to the industry.

Jack Mann was an innovative and passionate winemaker who presided over 51 consecutive vintages at the Houghton winery in the Swan Valley. The medal is widely regarded as WA’s most prestigious wine industry award.

The inaugural recipient was Dr John Gladstone, while others include Bill Jamieson, Robin Clarke, John Tate, Rod Properjohn, Tony Smith, Dennis and Trish Horgan, Stewart van Raalte, Di Cullen, Pam McGregor, Mike Zekulich and Paul Conti. Each of these past recipients has played an important part in the development and promotion of the wine industry in this State.

Last Tuesday at Government House, the 2002 Jack Mann Medal was presented to one of WA’s most respected winemakers – Dr Bill Pannell –who was one of Margaret River’s wine industry pioneers. Dr Pannell and his wife, Sandra, established Moss Wood wines in 1970 and by the end of the decade had firmly established the operation as one of the benchmark wineries in Australia.

Bill Pannell carved out a reputation for producing only wine of quality.

He was meticulous in his approach to winemaking and to the viticultural practices employed at Moss Wood.

After selling Moss Wood in 1985 he and his family have been concentrating on developing their new winery in Pemberton, Picardy Wines, which was planted in 1994. Those who know Bill will understand his great love of pinot noir.

Many talk about finding the Holy Grail when talking about pinot noir and, while Bill will probably admit that he is still looking to produce his best pinot noir, his passion to produce the perfect wine grows ever stronger.

Bill’s sons, Steve and Dan, are both winemakers in their own right. Dan makes the wines (with a little bit of help no doubt from Bill) at Picardy Wines and Steve is currently the group red winemaker at BRL Hardy.

Bill and Sandra Pannell can be justifiably proud of their achievements in not only establishing Moss Wood and Picardy Wines, but for introducing the world to the quality of wine WA is able to produce. He is a very worthy winner of the Jack Mann Memorial Award.

TASTING NOTES

Freycinet 1998 Chardonnay rrp $29.00 rating 17.5/20

This was a real surprise from the Apple Isle, especially given the state of the cork, which was seeping quite badly. It just goes to show you can never judge a book by its cover. The aromas took on a slightly honeyed character with restrained citrus, cashew nuts and a little nougat. The palate will open your eyes.

It is still quite tight in its structure and showing entwined oak, fruit and acidity.

There is good persistence and an elegance of creamy layered palate that displays a touch of mango and nougat, showing a little development, but overall a very smart wine.

Penfolds Bin 407 Cabernet Sauvignon 1999 rrp $24.99 rating 17.75/20

I wrote about this wine during the middle of last year and suggested that Southcorp come to its senses and release this as a Margaret River cabernet sauvignon. While there is no word on that ever happening, however, this edition of Bin 407 has settled down and is looking very good indeed. I have no doubt that, as this was perceived as an ordinary vintage, you will still find stocks of this wine in your favourite liquor store.

There are fragrant aromas with some spice, chocolate and a violet hint, and attractive sweet fruits with tannins that seemed to build across the palate.

Generous fruit structure with touches of prunes, damson and briary fruits, plenty of length across the palate.

A very sound wine that you could safely put away under the bed for another two or three years. As someone suggested at our tasting, this wine is not a glamorous model, but more the girl next door.

Woody Nook Sauvignon Blanc 2001 rrp $21.00 rating 19/20

This wine is a delight, a fantastic example of varietal sauvignon blanc and worthy of a stop next time you are passing the winery along Metricup road down Margaret River way. Pungent passionfruit, guava, and gooseberry and vegetative aromas leap from the glass.

The palate is rampant with fruit flavours that are in perfect balance with lively acidity.

One of the best varietal sauvignon blanc in WA, vine age seems to be playing a major part in this wine.

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