The 8,000-case winery operated by founding winemaker Stephen Reustle beat out hand-selected Syrahs from six New World regions, including the United States, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Chile and Argentina.
The Reustle-Prayer Rock Vineyards 2012 Masada Bloc Syrah was the No. 1 wine out of 52 Syrahs judged. Reustle also won for a double gold for its 2012 Winemaker’s Reserve Syrah.
“I felt as though I was representing not only my winery, but also the Umpqua Valley, Southern Oregon and the Pacific Northwest,” Reustle told Great Northwest Wine. “It’s a huge honor. In some ways, this is a little bit like the 1976 Judgment of Paris, which later was made into the movie Bottle Shock.”
6 Nations judging provides New World perspective
The Six Nations Wine Challenge takes place in Australia and includes 100 wines from each of the six wine-producing countries involved. Each of the 100 wines is hand-selected by a representative of that country, then all 600 wines are evaluated in Sydney over multiple days by the judges.
The wines are divided into 17 classes, and each judge may select up to 10 wines from any single class.
“This is the only competition in the world where the wines are individually invited by the judges and then all judged together as the best of the best in the New World of wine,” said Judith Kennedy, president of the Six Nations Wine Challenge, in a news release.
Dan Berger, a longtime wine writer and international wine judge based in Santa Rosa, Calif., is the representative from the United States and selected the Reustle-Prayer Rock Vineyards wine. The competition began in 2003 with the Tri-Nations Wine Challenge and expanded eight years later to feature five countries. In 2013, the competition committee added the United States and appointed Berger to serve as the American judge. He has nominated wines from Reustle-Prayer Rock Vineyards each year.
“Reustle has shown exemplary consistency in a cool-climate style,” Berger said in a news release. “It has been obvious from the start that Stephen has a very special place for Syrah.”
Bob Campbell, a Master of Wine and the nominating judge for New Zealand, said in the news release, “Because the wines are all selected by each of the judges, the standard of wine quality must surely be higher than any other competition of this size in the world.”
Reustle noted, “This also serves as yet another example to the rest of the world that Oregon can shine with varietals other than Pinot Noir.”
Top wines feted at 2 Sydney events
The guest list for the Oct. 7 presentation trophy dinner in Sydney at Manjit’s at The Wharf . It was a black-tie event including ambassadors and consuls general representing each country.
A night later, the Association of Australian Boutique Winemakers staged a public event called “The Thinkers & Drinkers.” More than 500 guests attended the tasting in the Doltone House at Jones Bay Wharf Pyrmont in Sydney.
Reustle said he held off on sharing news of the awards with his wine club members and supporters until after President Obama’s visit to Roseburg in the aftermath of the Umpqua Community College massacre.
“The timing wasn’t appropriate, so we waited until after the president’s visit,” Reustle said. “Our community is still recovering from this horrible tragedy.”
Second time a winner for Northwest
This is not the first time a Pacific Northwest wine has won such prestige at the Six Nations Wine Challenge.
In 2013 – the first year the United States competed in the competition – America won five trophies. Among them was Maryhill Winery‘s 2011 Winemaker’s Red, an affordable wine that won for non-Bordeaux red blends.
In 2014, Maryhill Winery’s 2012 Winemaker’s Red nearly repeated the feat, winning a double gold medal but losing the trophy to a red blend from famed Wolf Blass in Australia. In the same class, Coyote Canyon Winery in Prosser, Wash., won a gold medal for its 2011 Tres Cruces red blend.
Also in the 2014 competition, Chateau Ste. Michelle won a double gold medal for its 2011 Canoe Ridge Estate Merlot from the Horse Heaven Hills of Washington. It also won gold medals for its 2012 Eroica Riesling and 2011 Indian Wells Cabernet Sauvignon.
And in this year’s competition, Chateau Ste. Michelle won a double gold for its 2013 Eroica Riesling, nearly winning the Riesling trophy. Ste. Michelle also won a double gold for its 2013 Dry Riesling.
Maryhill Winery won a gold for its 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon. Maryhill also won a gold for its 2013 Winemaker’s Red.
Alexandria Nicole Cellars‘ 2012 Mr. Big Petite Sirah also won a gold.