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O’Shea Award goes to Australian Screwcap Initiative

The 2012 McWilliam's Maurice O'Shea Award has gone to the Australian Screwcap Initiative.

‘Integrity and quality’: screwcaps

The 2012 McWilliam’s Maurice O’Shea Award has gone to the Australian Screwcap Initiative.

McWilliam’s chairman Doug McWilliam announced the Australian wine industry’s most prestigious award to enthusiastic approval at a dinner for 250 guests in Melbourne last night.

The award was collected by Clare Valley winemaker Jeffrey Grosset – one of the driving forces and earliest supporters of the concept of screwcap – on behalf of the Australian Screwcap Initiative.

Accepting the award, Grosset referred to early and successful screwcap trials undertaken in the 1970s, ‘but commercial introduction wasn’t realised because people weren’t aware of the benefits.’

The importance of this form of closure to the Australian wine industry cannot be overstated, Grosset said.

‘The introduction of screwcap remains the most significant advancement in the quality and consistency of premium wine in recent times. A thorough understanding and acceptance of the closure in critical export markets, particularly China, may well determine whether we are seen as taking leadership in terms of integrity and quality of premium wine.’

The Australian Screwcap Initiative dates back to August 2000, when 13 Clare winemakers launched their Rieslings under screwcap.

The number doubled the following year, with some wineries keeping a proportion of their production under natural cork. The International Screwcap Initiative was founded in 2006.

Grosset also took the concept to New Zealand, where it has been equally successful. Today, the vast majority of Australian wine sold locally is under screwcap. Exports are not as extensive but growing.

Past winners of the Maurice O’Shea Award include the late Max Schubert, the late Len Evans, Brian Croser, Jacob’s Creek, James Halliday, and the Australian Wine Research Institute.

Awarded on a biennial basis, it is named in honour of McWilliam’s great winemaker, Maurice O’Shea, who died in 1956.

Written by Ken Gargett in Melbourne

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