King of Cabernet Crowned in World-First Virtual Wine Challenge

The 2018 Brand’s Laira 1968 Vines Cabernet Sauvignon, produced by Brand’s Laira Coonawarra, has been awarded the Best of Region wine for Coonawarra, narrowly missing out on the top prize in what was a nail-biting finish to the virtual trophy judging process.

Winemaker Peter Weinberg was thrilled for this wine to have been awarded Best of Region from a pool of 72 Coonawarra wines presented for judging. “The team at Brand’s feels honoured to win the Best of Region award amongst such strong competition from one of the world’s best Cabernet growing regions. This award is testament to the strength and commitment of our Grapegrowing and Winemaking teams at Brand’s Laira, we will be back next year for this fantastic event!!’ he said.

The 2018 Xanadu Cabernet Sauvignon took out the top honours at the 2020 James Halliday Australia Cabernet Challenge, scoring 97 points of a possible 100 to claim the top trophy from 364 entries, encompassing 29 Australian wine regions.

In what is believed to be a world first, judging of the 2020 James Halliday Australia CabernetChallenge presented by Langton’s, took place simultaneously in Australia’s preeminent Cabernet producing regions, namely Coonawarra in South Australia and Margaret River in Western Australia, with Yarra Valley in Victoria also connecting through virtual means to deliver this single variety wine show with a difference.

Coonawarra Judges assess the best of region wines via zoom hook-up with their counterparts in Margaret River

A panel of 5 judges each in Margaret River and Coonawarra, tasted close to 200 wines over two days, with a further 40 wines assessed on the third and final day, to determine the regional trophy winners and overall Cabernet Champion in a virtual taste-off via Zoom.

Xanadu Senior Winemaker, Glenn Goodall shared his excitement in taking out the prestigious National Award, “I’m absolutely wrapped! We’ve always taken enormous pride in our Cabernet Sauvignons, so to be awarded as the Cabernet Challenge Trophy in this year’s James Halliday  Australian Cabernet Challenge is definitely the highlight of 2020, and a huge achievement for everyone involved at Xanadu, especially our growers.

According to Goodall the 2018 vintage was a standout in Margaret River with wines of outstanding quality being produced, “Cabernet Sauvignon loves Margaret River, and there would have been some strong wines in the mix given 2018 was such an amazing vintage here. No doubt, in years to come everyone’s 2018 Cabernets will still be the yardstick by which such exceptional vintages are remembered, so to have our 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon recognised like this, amongst so many great Australian producers, is extremely rewarding for the whole Xanadu team,” he said.

Last night the results of the James Halliday Australian Cabernet Challenge presented by Langton’s were announced on Langton’s Youtube channel and streamed to Facebook Live.

Best of Region awards were presented to five regional winners, before revealing the overall winner in what was a true celebration of the world’s most planted and extremely versatile, food-friendly variety.

As presenting partner, Langton’s General Manager Jeremy Parham praised the event saying, “We’re proud to support the James Halliday Australian Cabernet Challenge. This year in particular, as the team has innovated to overcome so many hurdles in order to deliver this important award. Raising the bar for Australian Cabernet is something from which we all benefit. Congratulations to the team at Xanadu and all of the regional winners.”

The 2020 James Halliday Australian Cabernet Challenge Regional Winners are:

Adelaide Hills Best of Region
Wines by Geoff Hardy
2018 K1 By Geoff Hardy 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon – 95 points

Barossa Valley Best of Region Casella Family Brands
2018 Peter Lehmann Wines Masters Mentor Cabernet Sauvignon – 95 points

Coonawarra Best of Region Brand’s Laira of Coonawarra
2018 Brand’s Laira 1968 Vines Cabernet Sauvignon – 96 points

Margaret River Best of Region Xanadu Wines
2018 Xanadu Cabernet Sauvignon – 97 points

Yarra Valley Best of Region Boat O’Craigo Wines
2018 Boat O’Craigo Braveheart Cabernet Sauvignon – 96 points

The full results are now available to view at

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