Evans & Tate 1999 Margaret River Shiraz, which is scheduled for release this December, last night beat 4875 other red wines from around the world to win the overall trophy for the best red wine at the world's largest and most credible wine competition, Britain's International Wine Challenge.

"This accolade confirms the world-class standing of the wines we're making," said Evans & Tate Executive Chairman, Franklin Tate, who accepted the award at the presentation dinner. "It is the first time a Western Australian wine has won an award of this magnitude and it speaks volumes for the quality of wines coming out of Margaret River - in particular the Margaret River Shiraz."

The International Wine Challenge, now in its 17th year, attracted more than 9000 entries from 35 countries, including France, Italy and the U.S.

More than 550 professional judges from around the world were involved in the rigorous judging process, which involved wines being judged in varietal classes, first against wines from the same region and then against other potentially medal-worthy wines from around the world. The medal-winning wines were then re-tasted to determine the Wines of the Year and trophy winners.

"We were thrilled to win two gold medals* at last year's International Wine Challenge," Mr Tate said. "We've gone one step better this year - to win Red Wine of the Year is a great achievement, and one which we are extremely proud of.

"I know that there have been some doubts about the region's ability to produce quality Shiraz fruit. This win has certainly vindicated our decision to persist with Shiraz, and will hopefully go a long way to easing the doubts of others."

Mr Tate said the win also justified Evans & Tate's decision to pioneer the Jindong sub-region of the Margaret River. Seventy-five per cent of the fruit for the 1999 Margaret River Shiraz was sourced from Jindong, with the remainder from Willyabrup.

(Jindong is located about 15 kilometres to the east and slightly north of the main Margaret River vineyard area in the Willyabrup Valley.)

Mr Tate said fruit sourced from the Jindong region added richness and weight, while Willyabrup fruit gave the wine its finesse and fine tannin structure.

"We are committed to the Margaret River region and to exploring all areas within its boundaries," he said. "We've been pleased with all the wines we've made from Jindong. The region has given us fruit with the intensity, weight and depth of flavour that we are looking for."

Evans & Tate's Margaret River Shiraz is no stranger to success. The 1996 vintage was named in James Halliday's influential Top 100 in 1998; the 1997 won three gold medals in Australian wine shows and trophies for Best Shiraz and Best Red Wine (shared) at the 1999 Japan International Wine Challenge; and the 1998 won Top Gold at the 1999 Mt Barker Wine Show.

Mr Tate described the 1999 Margaret River Shiraz as "a Rhone-style red, with incredible richness and depth of flavour."

"It's a complex wine with lovely pepper and spice flavours - it certainly has the depth and structure to support up to six years of careful cellaring," he said.

Evans & Tate's 1999 Margaret River Shiraz will be widely available from December priced at about $26.50 per bottle.

The Evans & Tate 1996 Margaret River Cabernet Sauvignon and Evans & Tate 1996 Margaret River Merlot were both awarded gold medals at the 1999 International Wine Challenge.