Aphelion winemaker Rob Mack has been crowned the 2018 Young Gun of Wine after taking out the Best New Act award last year.

Mack, who runs the micro, minimal intervention winery with his wife Louise Rhodes, was picked above 11 other finalists from across the country. He was commended for his grenache and grenache-mataro-shiraz blend.

“I could not be happier right now,” Mack says in a press release. “This is a win for us but it’s also a reflection on the melting pot of creativity in McLaren Vale. To be picked at the top of this list of truly awesome winemakers is a testament to our family’s winemaking values.”

Now in its 12th year, the national competition lifts the lid on the most exciting emerging winemakers in the country. Naturally, South Australia is well represented. Mack’s win makes it back to back for SA after Murdoch Hill’s Michael Downer took out the top gong last year.

Other SA locals, Damon Koerner of Koerner Wine in the Clare Valley and David Geyer of Geyer Wine Co. in the Barossa, made the 50-strong shortlist but didn’t take home an award.

Tasmania had a strong showing: Best New Act went to Mewstone’s Jonathan Hughes and Winemaker’s Choice went to Gilli and Paul Lipscombe from Sailor Seeks Horse in the Huon Valley. Slightly further north, the People’s Choice award went to Melanie Chester from Sutton Grange Winery in Bendigo, Victoria. And the Danger Zone award, which honours the “most adventurous wine”, went to Canberra’s Lark Hill for its 2017 gruner veltliner.

YGOW founder Rory Kent said approachability was the “keyword” of this year’s competition. “Winemakers are breaking ground with new varieties, and exploring new techniques, all in the search of more delicious wines made from our climate and for our palates.”

This year YGOW also introduced the Wineslinger award to identify the best wine bar in Australia – one with “approachability, energy and adventure,” Kent told Broadsheet last month. A panel of more than 100 sommeliers and winemakers voted, selecting Melbourne’s City Wine Shop for the inaugural award. The People’s Choice went to Harvest Newrybar, southwest of Byron Bay.

The awards were announced on Monday at Mona in Hobart.

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