Coonawarra Crowned Top Cabernet in National Wine Challenge!

The 2021 James Halliday Australian Chardonnay and Cabernet Challenge Trophy winners were announced in a live stream award ceremony overnight, with the Yalumba 2019 The Menzies Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon, taking out not only the top gold of the Coonawarra Wine Region but the overall Trophy to be crowned as Australia’s finest Cabernet.

Coonawarra Vignerons Events and Marketing Officer, Heidi Eldridge praised the Yalumba winemaking team for this outstanding accolade, ‘This is a fabulous achievement for Yalumba and the Coonawarra winemaking team, and we couldn’t be more excited! This is the first time in this wine show’s six year history, that the coveted Cabernet trophy has been awarded to a region outside of Margaret River.”

“A Coonawarra wine came very, very close to taking out the grand prize in the 2020 event, which was hosted collectively by Coonawarra,  Margaret River and the Yarra Valley, so it is very satisfying to see that Coonawarra has now gained the title for Australia’s top Cabernet for 2021!’Ms Eldridge said.

Former Yalumba Winemaker, Natalie Cleghorn, stands at The Menzies property in Coonawarra with a bottle of The Menzies.

This year, for the first time, the James Halliday Australian Chardonnay and Cabernet Challenges were ‘blended’ and judged simultaneously, with the results announced via a live stream presentation hosted by wine writer, Nick Ryan.

The ten Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon ‘Best of Region’ Regional Winners were from regions achieving scores of 95 points or more.  The award-winning winemakers joined the Livestream to receive their awards and discuss their wines.

The 2019 Yalumba The Menzies Cabernet Sauvignon from Coonawarra took the top gong in the 2021 James Halliday Australian Cabernet Challenge, scoring 98 points, topping the 297 entries from 22 wine regions across Australia.

The 2019 Montalto Single Vineyard “Tuerong Block” Chardonnay from the Mornington Peninsula took the top honours at the 2021 James Halliday Australian Chardonnay Challenge, scoring 98 points to claim the top trophy from 384 entries, encompassing 31 Australian wine regions.

James Halliday then joined to reveal the overall Trophy winners in what was a true celebration of the world’s most planted and popular ‘king’ and ‘queen’ varieties.

James Halliday supported the decision to bring the Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon Challenges together, saying it “provides a win-win scenario for all the stakeholders. The results provide a unique snapshot of the state of play of these two great varieties.”

 Chair of Judges, Chris Crawford reflected on the Challenge saying, “Over two and a half days, nine judges assessed over 650 entries of Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon from across Australia. It was exciting to see the vast array of different styles the judges selected and there are no surprises that regions like Margaret River and Yarra Valley produced the lion’s share of highly pointed wines. All the top-ranked wines of each region are a testament to how far these wines have come. Displaying balance, depth, freshness and intensity – overall impressive quality.”


The 2021 James Halliday Australian Cabernet Challenge Regional Winners are:

 Coonawarra Best of Region & Cabernet Challenge Trophy

Yalumba – 2019 Yalumba The Menzies Cabernet Sauvignon – 98 points

 Margaret River Best of Region      

Fermoy Estate – 2019 Fermoy Estate Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon – 97 points

McLaren Vale Best of Region
Leconfield Wines – 2019 Richard Hamilton Wines ‘Hut Block’ Cabernet Sauvignon – 96 points

 Yarra Valley Best of Region

Zonzo Estate – 2020 Zonzo Estate Yarra Valley Cabernet Sauvignon – 96 points

The 2021 James Halliday Australian Chardonnay Challenge Regional Winners are:

Adelaide Hills Best of Region
Chain of Ponds – 2020 Chain of Ponds Millers Creek Chardonnay – 96 points

 Hunter Valley Best of Region
First Creek Wines – 2019 Best of Region Winemaker’s Reserve Chardonnay – 96 points

 Margaret River Best of Region      

Driftwood Estate – 2020 Driftwood Estate Single Site Chardonnay – 97 points

Mornington Peninsula Best of Region & Chardonnay Challenge Trophy

Montalto – Montalto Single Vineyard 2019 “Tuerong Block” Chardonnay – 98 points

 Tasmania Best of Region
Derwent Estate Wines – 2018 Derwent Estate Calcaire Chardonnay – 96 points

Tumbarumba Best of Region

Penfolds Wines – 2019 Penfolds Cellar Reserve Chardonnay – 95 points

 Yarra Valley Best of Region

Yarra Yering Vineyard – 2020 Yarra Yering Chardonnay – 97 points



The full results are now available to view at

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