Raise your glasses: Australia has had its best ever year at the 2013 Decanter World Wine Awards, held on Wednesday night in London at the Royal Opera House.
Of the 32 international trophies, awarded in categories divided by style and price, Australia won six – more than any other country. Spain, Chile and South Africa won four each, and France three.
Five Australian states could boast a winner.
More than 14,000 wines from around the world were judged by leading experts, masters of wine and sommeliers. The competition, which has run for 10 years, bills itself as the world's biggest in terms of the number and range of wines it considers.
“It's great news for Australia, which in the wine world has taken a bit of a bashing in the last few years,” said Sarah Kemp, director at Decanter magazine.
“Australia has never done this well. I think what [the wine makers] are doing is there is a great drive to quality. There are many very talented individuals in Australia, a lot of small owner vineyards, people working hard to make some of the world's greatest wines, not just churning it out for the masses.”
Kemp said one of the most notable wins was in the chardonnay over £15 ($26) category – “this is burgundy territory and it has gone to a Tasmanian wine”.
But she also noted the win in the riesling. “These are great classics, not oddballs.”
New wines in the competition this year came from countries not exactly well known for wine-making tradition: such as Sweden, Thailand, Japan and China.
One of the biggest surprises of the awards – based on blind tasting by experienced judges – was in the red bordeaux varietal, which was won by a wine from Hungary.
Kemp said that on the consumers' side, the recent trend was a drawing back from high-alcohol volume, with the big blockbusters of the 1980s not so popular any more.
“Australia is responding to that with some very elegant wines,” she said.
The Australian winners were:
Riesling over £15 - Eden Springs, High Eden Riesling 2008 (South Australia)
Chardonnay over £15 - Josef Chromy, Chardonnay 2011 (Tasmania)
White single-varietal under £15 - McGuigan, Bin 9000 Semillon 2007 (NSW)
Red blend over £15 - Penfolds, Bin 389 Cabernet-Shiraz 2010 (South Australia)
Red Rhone varietals over £15 - Credaro Family Estate, Beach Head Shiraz 2011 (Western Australia)
Sweet fortified under £15 - Campbells, Topaque NV (Victoria)