Wynns has been around since the dawn of the dingoes and Kiwi’s have long been huge fans.  When I asked around my local traps (the school mums, supermarket checkout ladies, the lotto man, the rural post driver, the plumber and the sparky), about the first red wines they ever tried, this reliable, cuddly Coonawarra brand featured near the top of the list in most cases – or sandwiched somewhere between Cold Duck and Coleraine in others.  “Reliably smooth, spicy and tasty, fruity and not too sharp” were common descriptors from my interviewees, and that’s why they still buy Wynns wines today.

Sue Hodder Chief Winemaker at Wynns Coonawarra

“We don’t want skinny, green Shiraz, but we don’t want to make sweet, jammy ones either” says Sue Hodder, a 20 year veteran of the company and Chief Winemaker for Wynns since 1998.  “Our mission is to create wines that are elegant reflections of our cool-climate terroir”. Sue visited New Zealand in August to conduct a series of tastings showcasing their range of premium cabernet and shiraz-based wines.  I met her a week after their annual ‘Wynnsday’ new release exhibition tasting traditionally held (you guessed it) on a Wednesday.  The 2011 release sees the return of two of the greatest names in Australian wine, the John Riddoch Cabernet Sauvignon and the Michael Shiraz.

“Michael” is our reserve shiraz which after a long holiday was resurrected back in 1990” explains Sue. “Since then we’ve made one in 2005 but not in 2006 or 2007 because the fruit just missed the mark”.  Coonawarra shiraz typically has more red fruit character than dark and I’d typically describe them as ‘medium bodied’ when compared to those from say the Barossa.

According to the www.glengarry.co.nz website the Michael Shiraz first oozed out of the barrels back in 1955 when owner David Wynn sidelined two distinctively excellent barrels from the vintage and instructed that they be bottled separately. The wine was named after his son, and is only ever made in outstanding vintages.  The 1955 is still drinking well and bottles are still fetching enormous prices at auction according to Hodder. “In fact some sold at auction recently for several thousand dollars a bottle”.  The Wynns Michael Shiraz 2008 $80 is the epitome of shiraz sourced from this tiny, sausage-shaped piece of South Australian red dirt.  A burst of red fruits, brooding berries, wood smoke, rhubarb, violets, pepper, black guava and plum flavours grip you around the gums providing density in the mid-palate and an elegant, silky finish.

“There are some great old vineyards in the heart of Coonawarra’s terra rossa soils planted back in the 60’s and they’re some of the earliest vineyards in the district to ripen, so they’re usually the ones we consider for ‘Michael’” says Sue.

Young Kiwi Winemakers Finalists in Prestigious Awards

Two talented kiwis have been announced as finalists in the prestigious Wine Society Young Winemaker of the Year Award.  The awards, now in their eleventh year, recognise and reward the talents of the most exceptional young Winemakers in Australia and New Zealand.

Nadine Worley, a winemaker Mud House Winery in Marlborough, joins fellow Marlborough winemaker David Clouston of Two Rivers in the group of ten finalists.  Despite being relative young guns, both Worley and Clouston have notched up an impressive amount of experience locally and internationally.  After his first vintage in Marlborough in 1996 David completed vintages in the USA, Australia, France, Spain and Chile before returning to New Zealand 22 vintages later to set up Two Rivers. In the last 18 months David’s Two Rivers label has collected 11 gold medals.

Paediatric nursing was Nadine Worley’s original calling before discovering her passion for winemaking. She began her in Australia working with cool climate varietals in Victoria and the Adelaide Hills before working two vintages at a winery in Italy followed by a vintage in Oregon then starting work at Mud House in 2006.  Since then, Mud House wines have received eight trophies and approximately 60 gold medals.

“Winemaking is something I am incredibly passionate about and I cannot think of a better way to have my craft for Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, Waipara Valley aromatics and Central Otago Pinot Noir acknowledged than to be nominated for an award as prestigious as this” says Worley.

The winners will be announced at a gala evening to be held in Sydney on November 18th.

Motörhead release Heavy Shiraz

One of the world’s legendary, leathery, long-haired hard rock bands has gone and got gourmet on it by releasing their own wine. According to those that have tasted it, (or more accurately a statement released by Motörhead’s publicist), the Motörhead Shiraz 2010 has been ‘carefully selected by the hardrock legends’ for its ‘fruity aroma, flavours of vanilla, blackberries, plums, eucalyptus and liquorice… [and] soft rounded tannins.’ Certainly no mention of crusty power chords, gristle or groupies in sight.  Adam Lechmere wrote in www.decanter.com that the band recommends drinking it with grilled lamb chops, garlic and rosemary, although it comes with a warning from Lemmy, legendary bassist and founder. “My advice is – approach it with caution. I mean, wine is deceptive, anything can happen.”  So while the rock demon is promoting moderation, the Australian-grown shiraz is anything but. Fraser ‘Lemmy’ Kilminster founded Motörhead in 1975 after he’d been sacked from his band, Hawkwind, for ‘doing the wrong drugs’, as he put it.  They became one of the most notorious bands of the 1970s English heavy metal scene. Produced by Broken Back Winery in Southeast Australia the wine has been released in Scandinavia and has just been released in the UK – no one is sure exactly when or if the wine will be released in New Zealand.




Matariki Quintology 2007 $80

One of New Zealand’s iconic red wines, this example of Gimblett Gravels gorgeousness is only released when the fruit is exceptional. A vintage-dependent blend of merlot, syrah, cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc and malbec, this version bursts with complex dried herbs, exotic spices dusted over juicy, ripe plum and dense berryfruit.  I love the hint of char and iodine that hits before the silky, warming, elegant mouthfeel, elastic tannins and truly sophisticated length of flavour.  www.matarikiwines.co.nz

Matariki Quintology 2007

Escarpment ‘Pahi’ Martinborough Pinot Noir 2009 $65

This is one of a select five limited-edition; site-specific wines produced by Lord Larry McPinot and it’s a monster.  Sexy cherry and intense dark chocolate merge with shitake mushroom and delicious dried herb notes. Despite packing a punch in the mouth the tannins are silken, lush and lovely with rock-solid structure that will last the long haul. Not a pinot for the puny.  www.escarpment.co.nz

Escarpment 'Pahi' Martinborough Pinot Noir 2009

Overstone Hawke’s Bay Chardonnay 2009 $7.99

For less than ten bucks this is a cracker.  Aromas of white peach, toasted nuts lead to juicy, peach notes on the palate.  Fresh acidity means it also has a lot of life in it yet.  Available from www.blackmarket.co.nz

Overstone Hawke's Bay Chardonnay 2009