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EACH year at the Royal Melbourne Wine Show a trophy is awarded to what’s considered the event’s best one-year-old red wine. Such is the prestige of the trophy that, in most years, there’s more than a hint of controversy about the result.

The award is the Jimmy Watson Memorial Trophy.

Jimmy Watson was a well respected Melbourne restaurateur who would meander through the one-year-old red class at the Royal Melbourne show each year to find what he thought were the best value wines to use on the wine list at his cafe, Jimmy Watson’s in Melbourne.

When he died in 1961 a group of his friends and colleagues, in recognition of his passion for wine, established the trophy for the best one-year-old red at the Melbourne show.

Each year, after the winner of the Jimmy Watson Memorial Trophy is announced, there’s only one place in town to be – Jimmy Watson’s.

The cafe is still run by his family, and has since become an institution, particularly to those in the wine industry.

The winner of the Jimmy Watson Trophy last year was Rosemount Estate with its 2001 Traditional wine. As the wines entered for the trophy at the time of judging are generally not ready for release, winemaker Charles Wish visited Perth last week to open up the award winning wine.

In addition to sampling the award winner, the assembled group of wine scribes was invited to taste through a vertical of all past vintages of the Traditional wine.

Rosemount Estate 1994 Traditional 17.5/20

Aromas centered on brambles, ripe plums, Christmas cake and a briary leathery note. The palate was quite savory with integrated acidity, spice, rampant blackcurrant and plenty of dusty drying tannin. This wine showed structure and length of palate. Would be looking to drink up any stocks you might have hanging around over the next few years.

Rosemount Estate 1995 Traditional 15/20

Not my favourite wine of the tasting. Briary savory notes with dark cherries, clove spice, vanillin coffee oak and leather. Savory plums with aggressive extracted tannins, which were a little too drying for me.

Rosemount Estate 1996 Traditional 18.5/20

Primary perfumed fruits combine with a complex note of cigar box and briary fruits. The palate was full of elegant ripe damson fruits with integrated tannins that complemented undertones of chervil and prunes and a viscosity that ran through the wine. The wine showed length and persistence – a delicious drink.

Rosemount Estate 1997 Traditional 16.5/20

Oak dominated the nose of this wine, which also had a medicinal mint chocolate character. On the palate you found savory fruits, which again displayed a medicinal mint character. It is a concentrated wine with grippy tannins and a fair whack of oak still showing though in the wine.

Rosemount Estate 1998 Traditional 16.5/20

Now this wine had stuff going on! Quite an earthy aroma greets you at first, although it does blow off. Spice, leather, cloves, prunes and an underlying anise note combine on the nose of this wine. The palate showed secondary fruit flavours of plums and mulberries, with a tight ball of gripping tannins. It is a tough wine that I thought lacked a little fruit definition from a pretty ripe year.

Rosemount Estate 1999 Traditional 16/20

Aromas displayed in this wine centered around medicinal, briary and bramble notes, with a secondary leathery undertone. Savory secondary fruit greets you on the palate, which displays soft plumy, bramble and red berry fruits. Dusty, chalky tannins combine with tight acidity and ripe heat, showed length of palate.

Rosemount Estate 2000 Traditional 17/20

Perfumed coffee, mocha oak with black berries, plums, touches of licorice and vanillin aromas. The palate displays some delicious soft fruits – brambles, chocolate and Christmas pudding notes combine across the palate and entwine with the dusty drying tannin and a note of red berry fruit through the finish of the wine.

Jimmy Watson Winner – Rosemount Estate 2001 Traditional rrp $26 18.5/20

Bright perfumed fruit. Dark cherries with rose petal and blackberries and vanillin aromas – the aromas on this wine really entice. The palate has a blend of ripe fruits that display an alluring sweetness and are quite perfumed, even on the palate. The tannins are structured and work well with the acidity, oak and luscious fruit. A bright and cheerful wine.

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