Lark Hill's Chris Carpenter nominated as 'a young gun of wine'


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The Canberra Times


At 34, Lark Hill’s winemaker Chris Carpenter admits he’s not getting any younger so he’s rapt to be nominated as one of Australia’s Young Guns of Wine.

“I’d like to think it’s more of a young-at-heart award, I don’t think there is an age limit,” he says.

Carpenter will be pleased to know he’s got a decade to keep competing - the age cut off is 45 - as the competition pulls together some of Australia’s brightest winemaking talent.

It’s his third year competing, shortlisted among 50 winemakers from across the country. Last year he won the Danger Zone award, for the most adventurous wine.

His 2017 Lark Hill Gruner Veltliner surprised the judges.

“This award recognises a winemaker that really hangs it out and chooses a more risky option,” says chief judge Nick Stock.

“Grüner Veltliner is a difficult grape to get right in Austria, let alone Australia, and Chris Carpenter has nailed it at Lark Hill. It’s an extremely hard wine to get right, there’s no legacy or experience to draw on. He’s done it himself and he’s done it exceptionally well.”

This year Carpenter went a little more traditional entering two rieslings from the 2018 vintage – the Lark Hill Vineyard Riesling from his original family vineyards planted in 1978, and a new wine in the Lark Hill range, the Canberra Region Riesling made from riesling grapes purchased from around the district.

“I wanted to enter two similar wines that were stylistically quite different,” he says.

“The traditional thing is to enter a red and a white or two very, very different wines and I wanted to enter two wines that were similar on paper but showed the breadth of what we’re doing.”


The 2019 Top 50 includes 19 winemakers from South Australia, 13 from Victoria, eight from Western Australia, seven from New South Wales/ACT, two from Tasmania and one from Queensland.

Sixty per cent of this year’s winemakers are new to the annual list, highlighting the depth of emerging wines across the country. Rory Kent, founder of Young Guns of Wine offered said the list got harder to narrow down each year.

“Added to that, there’s a diversity of people, places and paths to wine, which makes this collection of winemakers so compelling and creatively igniting for the direction of Aussie wine,” Kent says.

This year’s tasting panel reviewed about 250 wines during two days of judging.

“What I found most interesting with the wines for Young Guns of Wine 2019, was the way in which classic varieties, traditionally grown to that geographical indication, were reinterpreted with unique fun-loving winemaking, yet in a very classy way, with purity and depth,” says judge Josephine Perry, of Dormilona, and the 2016 winner.

Carpenter agrees there’s a sense of fun to the awards.

“The wines that have come up in the past in this competition have been wines that are less mainstream, less traditional,” he says.

“In terms of style, they've been light and vibrant reds, some work with skin ferment and the trendier winemaking styles, experimental blends and varieties.

“In that sense the competition is looking at and rewarding people who aren't just following a formula or doing a big company tick-the-box type wine but thinking about more interesting things they'd like to drink and experiment with.”

The final 12 will be announced late April, with the public then being able to decide the People’s Choice via tasting events in Sydney and Melbourne. The winners will be announced at an invitation-only trophy presentation in Adelaide in June.

Kirstin Redding