Armidale district woolgrowers, David and Angie Waters, Tarrangower Merinos, Hillgrove, have won a fifth Zegna trophy for their 15-micron superfine merino wool.
The Waters first won the prestigious trophy for superfine wool in 2014 and then had a run of three years in a row winning the trophy in 2017, 2018 and 2019.
Impacted by the drought, they were placed fourth in the 2020 competition and then were announced this year's winners last weekend.
, at Ararat in the Western Districts of Victoria.
Making the trip to Victoria even more successful for the Waters, apart from their first place in the Ermenegildo Zegna wool trophy; Tarrangower Merinos took first place in the ASWGA fleece competition in the 80s class, first place in the New England Region and grand champion fleece for 2021/2022.
The Waters' winning bale scored 89.5 points out of a possible 100 for their 15-micron entry with 8.5 points out of 10 for yield and 19/20 for strength and an average fibre length of 90 millimetres. Also scoring high points was the conformity of length - 18/20; trueness of type -18.5/20 and 7.6/8 for excellence.
In the ASWGA fleece competition, the Waters' two entries recorded terrific scores of 93/100 and 92.7/100. The top-scoring fleece weighed three kilograms with a score of 19.6/22; 19/20 for trueness, 8.4/10 for yield and 14.5/15 for conformity.
"It is truly an honour to be involved in the ASWGA Fleece Competition and to have our wool recognised at this high level," Mr Waters said.
He said Tarrangower Merinos aims to run its own race in pursuit of quality and excellence.
"We generally shear around 2000 sheep, and we breed our own rams and sell a few as well," he said.
Mr Waters said the wool from the champion Zegna bale would be processed and included in the company's Trofeo wool suits range.
Demand for superfine wool apparel was impacted by the worldwide Covid-19 pandemic but rising demand in Europe good times ahead for the superfine wool industry.
"But all the talk we are hearing is that processing demand and turnover of clothing is rising.
"Prices are increasing and those who persist with growing the fibre will find the future for superfine wool is still bright.
"While demand for formal suits eased during the pandemic, we have noticed there has been an increase in demand for casual and sportswear and a more casual approach with business wear clothing.
Jemalong Wools managing director Rowan Woods and G. Schneider Australia wool manager Mark Symes judged the Australian Superfine Wool Growers' Association (ASWGA) fleece competition and according to Mr Woods the competition was "extremely good".
"There's no doubt that my co-judge and I were looking at some of the best wools in Australia," he said. "It was like judging Ferraris over a Mercedes."
Mr Wood said there was also no doubt the Waters' entries in the fleece competition were outstanding.
"But there was not a lot of difference when it came down to it, with the difference just half a mark here or there deciding the winners," he said.
"The winning fleece was outstanding, it was very well defined in its staple character and crimp. It was a very lustrous fibre.
Mr Wood said of the 10 bales on show at the Zegna Trophy awards, five of them were from the New England region.
"I can easily say the New England produced some of the best wools in Australia last year.
Mr Wood said superfine wool growers have been riding a wave of a 10-year high in their industry.
"And the market is still rising significantly," he said.
"There is a lot more demand for superfine wools out of Europe and with a wave of better seasons and prices, the future is rosy for superfine wool production."
See page 67 of The Land for more on the ASWGA fleece competition.