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‘The Jimmy’ – Australias Best Known Wine Show Trophy


The Jimmy Watson Memorial Trophy is the most celebrated award in Australian wine, as Adrian Read reports


Jimmy Watson’s Wine Bar, in Carlton, is a Melbourne institution, serving wine to the thirsty from 1935 to this day. Watson himself was a true wine pioneer, taking customers on trips to vineyards, and bringing back barrels for bottling and sale in the bar.


When he died in 1962 his family and friends decided to fund a trophy in his name for the best one-year-old red in the Melbourne wine show – the sort of fresh, young red that Watson liked to serve by the jug or carafe...


But fast forward a decade and it was Wolf Blass who made the Jimmy Watson Trophy famous, and not for easy-drinking quaffers.


Blass won ‘the Jimmy’ three years running, in 1974, 1975 and 1976, with three consecutive vintages of his flagship Black Label Cabernet-Shiraz, including the inaugural 1973 vintage. It was a striking and unprecedented feat and Blass, the tireless promoter, launched a saturation marketing campaign to gain maximum advantage. 

‘ could not open a newspaper or magazine in the late 70s without reading a story or seeing a full-page ad extolling both the wine and the trophy.’

He emblazoned ‘Jimmy Watson Trophy’ in gold across the wines’ labels and it seemed you could not open a newspaper or magazine in the late 70s without reading a story or seeing a full-page ad extolling both the wine and the trophy.

With fame came controversy. Because the trophy was for a one-year-old red, the winning wine was usually still in barrel. The quantity to be made was unknown and the final, bottled wine might not be exactly the same as the sample submitted.

On the 50th anniversary of the Jimmy Watson Trophy, in 2011, the Royal Melbourne Wine Awards revised the entry conditions to include wines of the previous two vintages, with a stipulation that wines entered must be ‘finished’ – bottled and labelled.

Until 2012 only Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon-based wines had won the trophy, and ‘the Jimmy’ has attracted increased attention in recent years as, first, Pinot Noir (2013 and 2015) and now Grenache (2017) have entered the winners’ circle.

‘..."The Jimmy" remains our most coveted trophy’

‘The Jimmy’ remains our most coveted trophy, really the only one with a profile in the marketplace, where it counts. There are hundreds of entries in the relevant classes each year, and the trophy has been won by some of the biggest, and some of the smallest, names in Australian wine.


Here is a full list of winners, from the present to the inaugural 1962 award. Note that Wolf Blass Black Label won the trophy again – for the fourth time – in 1999. Black Label has also been Langton’s Classified since the original Classification of 1990.

Winners of the Jimmy Watson Memorial Trophy


2019 Bleasdale ‘The Wild Fig’ Shiraz Grenache Mourvedre 2018
2018 Xanadu Cabernet Sauvignon 2016 (Margaret River)
2017 Turkey Flat Grenache 2016 (Barossa Valley)
2016 Deep Woods Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2014 (Margaret River)
2015 Home Hill ‘Kelly’s Reserve’ Pinot Noir 2014 (Tasmania)
2014 S.C. Pannell Syrah 2013 (Adelaide Hills)
2013 Yabby Lake Block 1 Pinot Noir 2012 (Mornington Peninsula)
2012 Best's Bin 1 Shiraz 2011 (Great Western)
2011 Glaetzer-Dixon ‘Mon Père’ Shiraz 2010 (Tasmania)
2010 Joseph River Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 (Margaret River)
2009 Eden Road 'Long Road' Shiraz 2008 (Hilltops)
2008 Flametree Cabernet Merlot 2007 (Margaret River)
2007 Scarpantoni ‘Brothers’ Block’ Cabernet Sauvignon 2006 (McLaren Vale)
2006 Shingleback D Block Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2005 (McLaren Vale)
2005 Geoff Merrill Reserve Shiraz 2004 (McLaren Vale)
2004 Yellowtail Premium Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2003 (Wrattonbully)
2003 Saltram ‘The Eighth Maker’ Shiraz 2002 (Barossa Valley)
2002 Rosemount ‘Traditional’ Cabernet Blend 2001 (South Australia)
2001 Pepper Tree Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2000 (Coonawarra)
2000 Punter's Corner ‘Spartacus’ Shiraz 1999 (Coonawarra)
1999 Wolf Blass ‘Black Label’ Cabernet Sauvignon 1998 (Barossa Valley)
1998 Katnook Estate ‘Prodigy’ Shiraz 1997 (Coonawarra)
1997 De Bortoli Reserve Shiraz 1996 (Yarra Valley)
1996 Hardys ‘Eileen Hardy’ Shiraz 1995 (South Australia)
1995 Leasingham ‘Classic Clare’ Shiraz 1994 (Clare Valley)
1994 Rouge Homme ‘Richardson’s Red Block’ Cabernet Blend 1993 (Coonawarra)
1993 Elderton Cabernet Sauvignon 1992 (Barossa Valley)
1992 Seppelt ‘Harpers Range’ Cabernet Blend 1991 (Victoria)
1991 Mitchelton ‘Print’ Shiraz 1990 (Central Victoria)  
1990 Peter Lehmann ‘Stonewell’ Shiraz 1989 (Barossa Valley)
1989 Mildara ‘Jamiesons Run’ Cabernet Blend 1988 (Coonawarra)
1988 Hardy’s ‘The Hardy Collection’ Cabernet Sauvignon 1987 (Padthaway)
1987 Riddoch Cabernet Shiraz 1986 (Coonawarra)
1986 Lindeman's ‘Pyrus’ Cabernet Blend 1985 (Coonawarra)
1985 Hollick Cabernet Sauvignon 1984 (Coonawarra)
1984 Cape Mentelle Cabernet Sauvignon 1983 (Margaret River)
1983 Cape Mentelle Cabernet Sauvignon 1982 (Margaret River)
1982 Mildara JW Classic Cabernet Shiraz 1981 (South Australia)
1981 Lindemans St George Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 1980 (Coonawarra)
1980 Krondorf ‘Burge & Wilson’ Cabernet Sauvignon 1979 (South Australia)
1979 Orlando Cabernet Sauvignon 1978 (South Australia)
1978 Miller’s Chateau Yarrinya Cabernet Sauvignon 1977 (Yarra Valley)
1977 Wynns Coonawarra Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 1976 (Coonawarra)
1976 Wolf Blass ‘Black Label’ Cabernet Sauvignon Shiraz 1975 (South Australia)
1975 Wolf Blass ‘Black Label’ Cabernet Sauvignon Shiraz 1974 (South Australia)
1974 Wolf Blass ‘Black Label’ Cabernet Sauvignon Shiraz 1973 (South Australia)
1973 Berri Cabernet Shiraz 1972 (Riverland)
1972 Seppelt ‘Dorrien’ Cabernet Sauvignon TTI 47 1971 (South Australia)
1971 Orlando Cabernet Sauvignon Bin 7003 1970 (South Australia)
1970 Basedow Bin 15 Cabernet Shiraz 1969 (Barossa)
1969 d'Arenberg Cabernet Sauvignon 1968 (McLaren Vale)
1968 Penfolds ‘Grange’ Shiraz 1967 (South Australia)
1967 Saltram ‘Mamre Brook’ (Cabernet component) 1966 (Barossa Valley)
1966 Penfolds ‘Grange’ Shiraz 1965 (South Australia)
1965 Seppelt Great Western Shiraz 1964 (Great Western)
1964 Penfolds Bin 64 Kalimna Cabernet Sauvignon 1963 (Barossa Valley)
1963 Hardy's Cabernet Sauvignon Bin C404 1962 (South Australia)
1962 Stonyfell ‘Metala’ Cabernet Shiraz 1961 (Langhorne Creek)

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