Businessman Luke Saraceni has had a bittersweet victory, with his winery's 2010 shiraz winning Wine of the Year in Australia and New Zealand in a blind test of 11,000 wines.
The controversial property developer said he was honoured that his Saracen Estate wine took out the top award in the Winestate competition, announced at a gala event in South Australia last night.
But the win was a brutal reminder of all he has lost, having been recently forced to sell the Margaret River property and buildings for $5.8 million to Pebble Beach Holdings.
A Saraceni family-linked company retains the wine label, and also a lease to run the restaurant, cellar door and Duckstein Brewery joint venture on the property until at least 2018.
It is believed Mr Saraceni spent at least $10 million developing the winery before receivers Ferrier Hodgson were appointed to sell the Caves Road property at the behest of his financiers, aggrieved Bankwest.
He recently lodged a $200 million damages claim against Bankwest over the collapse of his property empire under the Raine Square tower development deal.
Mr Saraceni yesterday credited his ex-wife Maree for the winery's long-running success.
"It's a very bittersweet victory for us," he said yesterday.
"It's been hard to let go of the land and property, but we've still got the business."
Winestate spokesman Peter Jackson said 11 masters of wine were involved in the rigorous judging process, with panels across Australia and New Zealand.
Mr Jackson said it was unusual for a shiraz from WA to beat the South Australian and Victorian regions renowned for their reds.
The Saracen Estate 2010 shiraz, right, normally sells for $35.
"It's proof that you don't have to spend hundreds to get a top Australian wine," he said.
"It is an exceptional value wine."