By: Jon Condon
THERE were two extraordinary features about the winner of the Australian Wagyu Association’s 2022 branded Wagyu beef competition, results from which were announced last night.
South Australian supply chain manager Mayura Wagyu claimed the overall grand championship title for the second time, this year with a Fullblood class entry that displayed the heaviest marbling ever recorded in the competition’s 11-year history.
The results were announced and awarded during a glittering dinner held last night in Melbourne, book-ending the 2022 Wagyu Edge conference.
The winning entry clearly stood-out in the taste test judging phase of the competition, held in Brisbane back in March (see image of the ultimate grand champion entry taken by this reporter, who acted as one of the judges). It suggests that visual cues provided by the uncooked samples seen in the competition clearly corresponded with the ultimate eating quality, judged blind by the judging group a little earlier, that were announced last night.
Mayura’s fullblood grand champion achieved 976 points out of a potential 1040, producing an all-time record digital marbling of 61pc, as measured by the MIJ digital camera. This equated to a digital marbling score of more than 16 in the Japanese marbling scale.
The winner, representing Mayura’s Signature Series Wagyu beef brand, came from a fullblood steer sired by Mayura’s homebred sire, Mayura Notorious – the heir-apparent to his father, Junior’s crown as arguably the Australian Wagyu industry’s best-credentialled sire.
“This is what Notorious can do,” an elated Scott de Bruin told Beef Central at last night’s gathering. “It’s pretty exciting – the search for genetic excellence is continual, for all of us involved in the industry, and bulls like this continue to raise the bar.”
“He’s the potential game changer for the whole industry,” Mr de Bruin said. “The very best out of Japan – massive eye muscle, prodigious marbling and ability to marble early – this is what Notorious is all about.”
If you don’t push the boundaries, you’ll never find what’s good,” Mr de Bruin said.
Mayura’s grand champion was described by branded beef competition judges as “world class, with extreme marbling, juiciness and flavour that dissolved in a rich beef and butter succulence with an exotic caramel and sweet fresh finish.”
“This year’s competition was tougher than it has ever been,” Mr de Bruin said. “We all have to keep raising the bar.”
A panel of 32 judges scored this year’s entries blind, based on flavour, juiciness, texture and overall liking, plus visual raw state.
In a measure of progress in selection for marbling performance, more than ten of this year’s entries displayed marbling in excess of 50 percent visual (IMF).
Competition coordinator Ron Fitzgerald said a record 46 entries had been received this year from supply chains across Australia, up almost 50pc on last year. There were 12 Fullblood Wagyu entries, 17 in the crossbred class, and 17 in the commercial Wagyu (mid marbling score range) class. The sharp growth in Fullblood entries reflects the growing emphasis on Fullblood Wagyu production being seen across the Australian industry, as a proportion of overall Wagyu cattle being bred and fed.
Strong wins for Rangers Valley
Also prominent among results this year was Rangers Valley feedlot out of Glen Innes in northern NSW, claiming both the Crossbred Wagyu and Commercial Wagyu (marbling scores 5-7) with examples drawn from the company’s WX Wagyu brand program.
The crossbred champion scored 905 points, with a digital marbling (using the MIJ camera) of 51pc and a digital marbling fineness of 82.2, with a ribeye area of 103sq cm. Judges commended the sample for its rich and toasty aroma with creamy and silky fine texture, umami and savoury long lasting flavours with exquisite succulence and ultimate quality.
Rangers Valley’s commercial class champion recorded digital marbling of 31pc and a digital marbling fineness of 61.2, with a ribeye area of 121sq cm. Judges described the sample as displaying deliciously caramelised, savoury and sweet notes, silky tenderness and fresh creamy flavour with lasting juiciness and depth.
Feeder cattle are drawn from anywhere from Central Queensland into NSW and Victoria. Ration features extensive use of corn silage, with wheat and barley as the main white grain ingredients.