Champagne Bureau Australia has proudly announced the two winners in the 43rd biennial Vin de Champagne Awards, one of Australia’s most coveted wine awards and one that recognises the long standing relationship between France’s Champagne region and Australia.

The Vin de Champagne Awards are organised on behalf of the Comité Champagne in Epernay which represents the Houses, Growers and Co-operatives of Champagne. The aim of the awards program is to promote the enjoyment of Champagne in Australia and seek passionate Champagne lovers to act as ambassadors in the Australian market.

State finalists were flown to Sydney for the grand final judging on Monday, September 10th where they each took part in a panel interview and a blind tasting of three Champagne wines. The two winners were announced in the following categories:

Leanne Altmann (Vic) Wine Director, Andrew McConnell Restaurants

Nicole Smith (QLD) Practice Manager, Sunshine Eye Clinic

“Both Leanne and Nicole’s written submissions were considered excellent by our team of preliminary judges, and their knowledge of the Champagne region and descriptions of the selected three Champagnes served during the judging was incredible; especially since they had absolutely no information about the wines, aside from what was in the glass. ” said John Noble, Director of the Champagne Bureau Australia.

A black tie dinner at Quay Restaurant to announce the winners was attended by senior Champagne industry members, media and educators, along with Hannelore Rima from Comité Champagne and judges Huon Hooke, Peter Bourne and Bernadette O’Shea.

The grand prize for Leanne and Nicole is a two-week educational tour through the Champagne region where Comité Champagne will present them with their medal at Maison du Champagne in Epernay. The awards program has established a network of over 40 Champagne specialists who act as ambassadors and educators to promote the Champagne Appellation Australia-wide by sharing their knowledge and appreciation of the wine.

One of the highpoints of the evening was a dish from the new Quay menu – smoked pig jowl with fan shell razor clams, shiitake and sea cucumber crackling which was expertly matched to a flight of four Rosé Champagnes by Quay head sommelier Shanteh Wong.

The 18 Champagnes served with the four course menu for the Vin de Champagne Awards celebrated the diversity of Champagne wines including: Lanson Pére & Fils, Charles Heidsieck Brut Réserve, Vranken Diamant, Jacquart Rose Mosaïque, Laurent Perrier La Cuvée, Gosset Grand Blanc de Blancs, GH Mumm RSRV Blanc de Blancs 2012, Pierre Gimonnet & Fils Grands Terroirs de Chardonnay 2010, Ruinart Rosé, Deutz Brut Rosé, Duval Leroy Rosé Prestige, Bollinger Rosé, Pommery Cuvée Louise 2004, Louis Roederer Cristal 2008, Pol Roger Sir Winston Churchill 2006, Nicolas Feuillatte Palmes d’or 2006, Collet Blanc de Noirs and Laherte Frères ‘Rosé de Meunier’.

‘All of our finalists from the 2018 competition were outstanding, but the two winners were really stand out candidates – they absolutely exemplified what the award is about and will make great Champagne Ambassadors.” added John Noble, of the Champagne Bureau Australia.

The roll call of past winners of this prestigious award includes Australia’s most knowledgeable and respected wine industry people, including winemakers, journalists, restaurateurs, sommeliers, commentators and Champagne educators.

Photos by Belinda Rolland

Source: Champagne Bureau