With out query, an important wine producer in Coonawarra right this moment is Wynns Coonawarra Property. Like Coonawarra, it has had its ups and downs. However lately it makes an important wines from the district, most notably the Wynns flagship, John Riddoch Cabernet Sauvignon.
John Riddoch’s function in establishing the area and vineyard that might change into Wynns is detailed in World-Well-known Wine Areas: Coonawarra, South Australia and elsewhere, so I received’t rehash that right here. There may be few wine lovers who wouldn’t instantly acknowledge the enduring triple-gabled vineyard featured on the label of Wynns wines, a label designed by Richard Beck.
What attracted a Melbourne wine service provider to such an remoted area? Samuel Wynn was initially generally known as Shlomo Weintraub when he fled Russian-occupied Poland for Australia simply earlier than World Struggle I on the age of 21 years. Wynn finally ended up operating a wine bar in Melbourne and an influential wholesale wine enterprise, supposedly unaware that he had modified his title from the German phrase for “wine grape” to an outdated English phrase for wine (a profession within the wine business was certainly inevitable). Wynn did, nevertheless, come from a household of winemakers and he constructed fairly an empire with eating places, bars, wholesale enterprise, and appreciable winery holdings and wineries.
Among the many wines he served had been desk reds from Coonawarra bought from Woodley’s. Samuel Wynn knew the standard supplied by the area and wines made by Invoice Redman. That stated, there may be some debate over whether or not it was Samuel who wished to put money into the area or his son, David. A clue is perhaps that after they lastly obtained their arms on what would change into Wynns, it was David who ran the place.
Ken Ward, who would later change into the Wynns’ winemaker, claims to have overheard the phone dialog when Tony Nelson bought to the Wynns. The primary supply was £15,000, which was rejected. The supply was elevated in increments of £2,500 till it reached £25,000, which was accepted. Different reviews counsel it was bought for £22,000.
David Wynn instantly appointed Ian Hickinbotham as winemaker, additionally destined to change into a legend within the business. Hickinbotham handed away earlier this yr on the age of 88. In his guide Australian Plonky, Hickinbotham signifies that the talk over who was behind the acquisition might have been extra about worth, with David upping the supply with out chatting with his father. The guide additionally affords some gems about life in Coonawarra on the time, together with an area agent describing a stockman’s dinner with a horse’s hoof protruding from the pot.
The primary Wynns wine was a Shiraz, the 1952 Claret. It was made with no electrical energy, only a primary generator and steam-driven pumps. Pruning was performed by Hickinbotham’s mates from the native footy membership. It was not lengthy earlier than the standard started to be acknowledged. The 1953 Wynns Coonawarra Property Claret apparently gained a berth within the cellars aboard the Royal Yacht Britannia.
In 1954, Norm Walker, one more luminary within the Aussie wine firmament (Norm’s father, Hurtle, was born at Magill and at 14 joined Auldana, later gaining fame for his glowing wines, whereas Norm’s son, Nick, along with good buddy, David O’Leary, based the O’Leary Walker vineyard within the Clare Valley). Norm Walker made the primary Wynns Coonawarra Cabernet from seven tons (different reviews counsel simply three tons) bought from native growers. Remarkably, it’s believed that this was the primary 100% Cabernet ever made in Coonawarra.
The primary nice wine underneath the Wynns label was the 1955 Michael Hermitage, 100% Shiraz. David Wynn had noticed two barrels from the classic that stood head and shoulders above the remaining and determined that they need to be bottled individually. One other report means that it was a single 2,300-liter vat (as occurred in so many locations like this, nobody was considering of what future generations may wish to know on the time, therefore there are so typically conflicting reviews). Yet one more report has it as a single second-hand fortified cask. The wine was named after David’s son however was a one-off, not less than till the 1990 classic when it was revived and the “Michael Shiraz” grew to become a part of the core vary supplied the classic was ok.
Early releases by Norm Walker, the 1955 and 1956 of the well-known Cabernet – it could not change into the Black Label for a few years but, and was truly bottled underneath a white label within the early days – had been blends, 80 p.c Cabernet and 20 p.c Shiraz, earlier than the wine reverted to 100% Cabernet Sauvignon. Since then, the one exception was the 1969, a Cabernet Hermitage.
Wynns has at all times loved the good thing about a star-studded array of Australian winemaking expertise on the helm. After Hickinbotham and Walker, Jock Redman, Invoice’s nephew, was in cost from 1961 to 1968; Ken Ward adopted from 1971 to 1977; John Wade, well-known within the west, from then until 1985; and Peter Douglas till 1997. It was throughout Wade’s tenure that the John Riddoch Cabernet was first launched.
Wynns right this moment
After Douglas, Sue Hodder took over and she or he continues to be chief winemaker right this moment. Beneath her supervision, Wynns has arguably loved essentially the most spectacular interval in its historical past. And this at a time when the area has not fairly fallen from grace however come again to the pack. Hodder began the one winery program and she or he has overseen quite a few improvements within the vineyard, typically along with her colleague, Sarah Pidgeon. Hodder additionally presided over two of essentially the most unimaginable tastings I’ve been privileged to attend: each Black Label Cabernet from Wynns proper again to the very first one for the winery’s fiftieth anniversary after which repeating it for the sixtieth.
Maybe most notably, Hodder has labored very carefully with viticulturalist Allen Jenkins, who joined Wynns in 2000. Jenkins has simply retired, however between the 2 of them they labored diligently to enhance high quality throughout the vineyards, replanting 25 p.c of the vineyards throughout every decade. Their partnership was acknowledged by AGT Wine Journal in 2010 when the pair was named Winemaker of the 12 months, the one time a collaboration has achieved this feat.
On Jenkins’ retirement, Sue Hodder famous that it could not solely be Wynns who would miss him, however “the broader Coonawarra neighborhood,” stating that, “Allen has actually remodeled the panorama in Coonawarra although his viticultural efforts. Moreover, he has had an impression on the best way we take into consideration every part from the historical past to the land and definitely the wines. A profound contribution and a large legacy.” Usually, such adulation is thrown round at retirements and everybody is aware of that it’s the time to say good issues. On this case, it’s undoubtedly true.
Throughout their collaboration, Jenkins ran an in depth eye over the Johnson Winery, figuring out the 8,000 vines thought of one of the best performers. The Johnson Winery was planted with Cabernet in 1954, making it the oldest surviving Cabernet winery within the area (Shiraz was first planted on this winery in 1924, largely for distillation).
Over time, Jenkins narrowed the 8,000 right down to the highest 144 vines, largely people who confirmed superior drought resistance. From there, he went to one of the best 48 vines and subsequently, the perfect 18 vines, together with these displaying good resistance to trunk illness. Lastly, he settled on a high 5. These are the vines for use because the supply for all future plantings. Hodder and Jenkins have additionally labored extensively on drought tolerance, leaf plucking, water administration, shoot thinning, pruning, and extra in a unending seek for consistency all through the vineyards.
The Alexander Winery has additionally been vital as right here Hodder and Jenkins have carried out experiments on 9 totally different rootstocks in addition to personal roots. Normally, the Alexander Winery ripens later than most and the fruit is “greater and extra highly effective” in keeping with Hodder. It typically turns into a element of the John Riddoch for that yr.
From 1984 to 1988 Mildara made wines, very efficiently in some instances, from this winery earlier than being step by step bought to Wynns. The Alexander household initially obtained the land again in 1892. On the time, it was ten acres of Shiraz, ten acres of Cabernet, and a variety of purple gums. James Alexander had been a banker who obtained his arms on a diamond mine lease in South Africa within the 1860s. He headed off to hunt fortune and fame, however had no luck and so a decade later bought the lease to a really younger Cecil Rhodes. Rhodes did make a fortune from it. Alexander returned to Australia and married Riddoch’s daughter. His executor bought the vineyards to Mildara (now in fact all a part of the mega empire).
Previous to the affect of Sue Hodder, a lot had been achieved. In addition to planting Cabernet within the Johnson Winery, the Davis Winery was planted quickly after in 1957. Different vineyards adopted. The early Wynns winemakers are believed to be a few of the first on the planet to know malolactic fermentation, thanks particularly to Ray Beckwith at Penfolds (scientists of the day thought that hotter climates for grapes meant that the grapes contained no malic acid). The declare has typically been made that with out Beckwith, there would have been no Grange.
Wynns by means of the ages
Within the Nineteen Fifties Wynns made some spectacular wines; 1954 confirmed beautifully at each anniversaries, whereas 1959 was chic on the sixtieth, wanting much better than it had a decade earlier. After all, the outdated saying about outdated wines applies: “There are not any nice wines, simply nice bottles” (which I feel must be amended barely to “simply nice corks”).
The Nineteen Sixties was when Wynns and so many others hit their stride. Sue Hodder has stated of this decade that “it informs our winemaking right this moment.” Some vintages weren’t made as a result of circumstances, notably 1961, which was affected by frost, and 1963 because it was too moist.
And but Mildara launched its well-known 1963, the Peppermint Pattie, nonetheless sensible right this moment. The idea is that Mildara picked early and skipped the rains; others assume that some McLaren Vale materials may need discovered its method into the wine, however who actually is aware of? Ward was not excited by the 1969 classic and therefore made it as a Cabernet Hermitage.
Extra vital than the person vintages, Wynns correctly took the chance to purchase as a lot winery land because it may – keep in mind that this was a time when there have been nonetheless solely the 2 wineries in Coonawarra. The Nineteen Sixties was one other decade through which the vineyard operated with out electrical energy; 1968 is believed to be the primary classic the place the winemakers used American oak. On the time, one of the best years had been thought of to be 1960, 1966, and 1967.
As a broad generalization, the Seventies was the wettest decade skilled in Coonawarra. Wynns additionally needed to take care of younger vineyards as lots of these planted earlier had been now in manufacturing. Wynns had 214 hectares of which 42 p.c was Cabernet. We had been additionally seeing greener-styled wines inspired by present judges who appeared enamored of herbaceousness. Mechanical harvesting started in 1974 (the leafy canopies additionally contributing to the general greenness). Machine pruning adopted in 1979.
This was the period of the white wine increase and it meant that winemakers had been pressured to graft many vines over to white varieties. An astonishing 50 p.c of the terra rossa was planted to Riesling. Winemaking strategies tended to comply with what suited whites, stainless-steel fermenting tanks being an instance. Small oak wouldn’t be used right here till 1985 when it was launched by John Wade.
Wynns did win Australia’s most prestigious wine award, the Jimmy Watson Memorial Trophy, the primary time a Coonawarra wine had achieved that, with its 1976 Black Label Cabernet, which appeared accessible for a few years after launch. The highest years of the Seventies had been thought of to be 1970, 1971, 1975, 1976, and 1978.
Having lastly received a Jimmy within the Seventies, Coonawarra made it a behavior of it within the Nineteen Eighties, profitable in 1981, 1982, 1985, 1986, 1987, and 1989, although hardly ever since then. A lot of the plantings by Wynns in earlier many years had been now mature, and the vineyard bought one other 200 hectares of vineyards. After which Penfolds and the mega empire bought Wynns! After passing by means of successive possession, Wynns is a part of Treasury Wines Estates.
The Nineteen Eighties was when Wynns started using smaller barrels, growing the quantity of barrel fermentation, and a a lot better emphasis was positioned on the significance of pH. This was additionally when Wynns actually began work within the vineyards: 1980, 1986, and 1988 had been thought of the highest years, however 1982 was additionally an excellent classic and this was the primary launch of the flagship John Riddoch Cabernet.
By the Nineteen Nineties, the demand was for full-bodied reds. Sue Hodder has talked about strain to make “monsters,” however that in fact just isn’t Coonawarra’s factor. Wynns bought an extra 300 hectares in 1993. By 1996, the full holdings had reached 1,275 hectares, of which 428 had been Cabernet. Vineyard capability was elevated – Wynns may retailer 2,000 barrels and had capability for 3,400 tons on skins.
Winemaker Peter Douglas has steered that 1990 was the classic of the century, whereas others would go for 1991; 1996, 1998, and 1999 had been three extra beautiful years; whereas 1995 is mostly thought of the least of the last decade, however it nonetheless managed to supply a high quality wine. A powerful decade all spherical.
By 1998, manufacturing of Black Label Cabernet hit 80,000 instances, although that has decreased in recent times, relying on classic. Within the early a part of the last decade, some American oak was nonetheless used. By the tip of the Nineteen Nineties, 20 to 25 p.c of the wine noticed new oak barrels.
Since then, a lot of the work at Wynns has been within the winery and the vineyard has been rewarded – the wines since 2000 being essentially the most spectacular of all. Trials in each side of the work proceed, in search of the tiniest of enhancements. That is maybe greatest mirrored within the 2011, a horrible classic and one that previously would virtually actually not have been launched. But now Wynns was in a position to launch a high quality Black Label.
The very best since 2000 are thought of to be 2004, 2006, 2008, 2010, 2012, 2014, and, lastly cracking the even-year curse, 2015. Add 2016 and 2018 to this; 2019 is one other odd yr to shine, and though early days 2020 seems to be like a small however glorious classic. The hype round 2021 suggests it might be one of many biggest of all.
One level should be made. The longevity of those wines frequently surprises everybody. It confirms what Bordeaux has recognized for generations: Cabernet is a grape that may age amazingly effectively. Don’t be afraid to place these wines away for so long as you need supplied you’ve got good cellaring circumstances. Your kids, and grandchildren, will thanks. Not a nasty legacy for a wine that’s presently accessible for a mere AUD$45 (and was not too long ago discounted right down to a criminally low $25).
Wynns John Riddoch Cabernet Sauvignon
Even when John Wade had by no means launched the flagship Cabernet, the John Riddoch, there isn’t any doubt that Wynns would have firmly cemented its fame because the area’s main vineyard and top-of-the-line in all Australia. This nice Cabernet, nevertheless, sits comfortably with Australia’s greatest (many of the relaxation hailing from Margaret River). The esteem with which it’s held is clear in that it grew to become solely the second Australian wine to be bought through La Place de Bordeaux, the system for promoting nice Bordeaux, which now contains some particular wines from across the globe. The John Riddoch adopted Jim Barry’s Armagh, and not too long ago Penfolds Bin 169 Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon joined them.
Wade launched the early John Riddochs primarily based on the older Cabernet blocks situated on the famed terra rossa, believing them to offer “focus, richness of taste, and ripeness.” Not less than one winemaker on the time realized that the pattern to herbaceousness was not appreciated by all.
Wade had ordered new French oak barriques and hogsheads and the 1982 spent two years in 100% new oak. It nonetheless drinks fantastically. The wine made a big impact, which was constructed upon by subsequent vintages. Peter Douglas’s first classic, 1986, was an excellent one and his John Riddoch was sensible, additional growing the fame of the wine. The 1990 was one other to create nice pleasure.
Among the many work performed by Sue Hodder and Allen Jenkins within the vineyards has been a decided effort to make sure that the grapes used for John Riddoch are nearly as good as they probably may be. This has resulted within the removing of the pyrazine characters that may impression Cabernet, growing the inexperienced notes. It has additionally meant that the yields from vineyards are equal to these for a Bordeaux First Development. Today, virtually all grapes for John Riddoch are hand-harvested.
After sorting, the grapes will normally be flippantly crushed. Batches are handled individually. Fermentation at round 28ºC to 30ºC is in small stainless-steel open fermenters, though a small proportion of extra parcels are made in static or vinimatic fermenters. After 12 to fifteen days, the wine can be pressed into a mix of medium-toast, French-coopered hogsheads and barriques.
Minimal racking, then rigorous barrel choice will happen after 14 to twenty months, relying on the classic. The wine is bottled underneath screwcap (and has been because the 2004 classic). It’s given 18 months additional ageing within the cellars earlier than launch. The present classic sits round AUD$150. Given it’s normally favorably in contrast with a few of Bordeaux’s higher wines, that makes it wonderful shopping for.
John Riddoch is just made within the higher vintages. There was no 1983 (sometimes called the Biblical classic because it copped floods, fires, storms, and just about every part one may consider). There was no 1989, a poor classic, or 1995, thought of “the least” of the ’90s.
There was none constructed from 2000 to 2002 (not a lot due to classic circumstances however due to work that was being carried out in these vineyards), and 2007 was affected by a nasty frost. Two thousand eleven was only a horrible yr, and the staff didn’t assume that the fruit it may entry in 2014 and 2017 fairly made the grade. Wynns notes that just one p.c of its Cabernet is ever used for John Riddoch.
Sue Hodder is fond of claiming that “classic trumps every part,” however she has additionally famous that generally, the vintages don’t at all times inform the total story within the early days. The 1994 John Riddoch is an instance because it has blossomed to a stage nobody thought seemingly in its early days.
Wynns John Riddoch Cabernet Sauvignon 2018 tasting notes
The present launch is the excellent 2018, and we are able to count on this wine to point out the unimaginable longevity for which the road is thought. It is a nice classic for John Riddoch. The wine spent 15 months in “new (18 p.c) and seasoned French oak hogsheads (47 p.c) and barriques (53 p.c).” So effectively structured and so finely balanced is that this classic that you may drink it right this moment, however it’s a wine that may age and enhance for a few years. As pleasurable because it is perhaps now, this wine will get significantly higher.
The colour is magenta/darkish purple. Whereas oak is clear, the wine is so effectively balanced that it’s as near invisible as one may want. Totally seamless with a supple, creamy texture, there are notes of chocolate, cassis, blackberries and mint, florals, espresso beans, and even the merest trace of purple berries.
Fantastically refined, it’s each elegant and highly effective, a high quality line to tread. The depth is maintained all through with good acidity and really high quality, silky tannins. It has the construction and fruit to final and enhance for an additional 10, 20, or 30 years. An beautiful Cabernet, one in all Australia’s greatest. 98.
For extra info, please go to www.wynns.com.au/en-au/wine/cabernet-sauvignon.