We spent two days lurking around the Coonawarra Wine Region to sample as much as we could of this beautiful area that many call the other ‘Red’ centre of Australia. All up we visited eight cellar doors and tried wines from a variety of vineyards. The following includes a bit of information about the wineries we visited, as well as our tasting notes of our favourites* and a few that were worth mentioning.
Wynns Coonawarra Estate
It all started with John Riddoch – he planted his first vines in 1890 and his first vintage was available 5 years later. John died in 1901 and after a few years of struggles in the region that caused the wine industry to turn to distilling brandy, the Old Riddoch Cellars went onto the market in 1951, just in time for Polish-born Samuel Wynn to snap them up. He cleaned up the place and using only basic equipment, released a Wynn Coonawarra Estate wine a year later. The rest is history.
This was the first winery we visited and we thoroughly enjoyed the estate, the hospitality and the wines.
2012 Riesling – a pale wine that smells of citrus and green apple. It was zesty to drink with some sherbet tang to finish.
2011 Chardonnay – a light yellow-green colour with a slight buttery smell. There was some subtle oak in the flavour but had a balanced crispness.
* 2009 Chardonnay – much more buttery than the 2011, it was creamy with a bit of spice. Subtle floral and white stone fruit sweetness.
2011 Shiraz – beautiful red and magenta hues with raspberries on the nose, this was a medium bodied wine with spicy notes that followed through into the nose.
2010 “The Siding” Cabernet Savignon – beautiful purple and red colours with a slight smell of mint, this wine had a sweet entry and while it had a dry finish, it was still juicy and only had a little bit of spice.
2012 Riesling Late Harvest – almost sickly sweet with the smell and taste of overripe grapes. A very summer sip that is probably best with a bit of chilling.
The cellar door for this winery is right in the centre of Penola. The wines are named after angels, because when wine is aged in oak, the evaporation that occurs is the angels’ share, and what is left is their gift to us. The five star winery is run by the Reschke family and here are our favourites:
2011 Guardian Angel Sparkling Pinot Chardonnay – with the fresh smell of summer strawberries, this wine was very refreshing
2010 Lucy & Alice Pinot Gris – a little sour and dry with stone fruit flavours
* 2012 Flowers for Lucy – there is a bit of a story behind this drop. The winemaker’s daughters come past a few times a week to say hello while he is working. Usually they bring flowers. This wine was made for Lucy in return for the flowers that she brings him. A strong and sweet floral bouquet with a gentle fizz, there were hints of rose flavoured Turkish delight and a lime twist to finish.
2009 Angel’s Peak Cabernet Savignon – a garnet coloured wine that was dry, spicy and a little oaky with a long tannin finish.
2008 Angel’s Peak Shiraz – powdered chocolate on the nose and rich dark chocolate on the palate, this wine was powerful with a dry finish.
Coonawarra Wine Gallery
This cellar door offers tastings of wines from the Treasury Wine Estate, which includes Lindeman’s, Jamieson’s Run, Mildara and others. We got to try a few wines and here are our tasting notes:
2006 Reserve Pinot Noir Chardonnay – pale straw colours with a creamy smell and fresh, bright and fruity flavour of nectarine and strawberry.
* 2012 Jamieson’s Run Sauvignon Blanc Semillon – rich with tropical fruits like peach and passionfruit, it finished with a sherbet tang.
* 2010 Lindeman’s Sweet Seasons Blancello – a late harvest wine with a greenish hue, it had citrus and floral flavours with a hint of frangipani. The finish was slightly acidic but still gorgeous to drink.
2011 Jamieson’s Run Cabernet Shiraz Merlot – leathery and dusty, it was spicy with a dry entry and juicy finish. Definitely encouraged salivation.
* Lindeman’s Muscat – syrupy and golden with the smell of drunken raisins. It coated the mouth like honey and was just as sweet
* Lindeman’s Grand Tawny – toffee and coffee with rough beginnings but an amazing caramel aftertaste.
The new ‘kid’ on the block, Raïdis Estate is a family owned and operated winery just outside of Penola. The family brought their knowledge of winemaking from Greece and name their wines after goats.
2012 Cheeky Goat Pinot Gris – strawberry flavours before a warm cinnamon glow, this wine had a creamy texture with a bit of spice.
2010 Mama Goat Merlot – chocolate smells with a powerful entry of spice and slight oak.
This winery’s history is entwined with that of the Riddoch family – John Riddoch’s daughter married Robert Rymill and their grandson, Peter Rymill established the winery in 1974 with his wife. They were equestrians who had a great connection with horses in their competitive and farming lives, hence the logo of two horses. They have a great estate with a wonderful selection of wines.
2012 Yearling Savignon Blanc – lime and passionfruit with a zingy entry and juicy finish. Really refreshing!
2011 Chardonnay – buttery with the zest of citrus and apple, it was very light and easy to drink
2010 mc² (Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc) – garnet hues with the smell of currents, this wine had an exciting entry that burst with spice and a smooth, sweet and juicy finish with flavours of strawberry jam.
* 2011 Yearling Shiraz – garnet colours with a cedar smell, it was very gentle with subtle oak, cinnamon and sweet rhubarb.
* 2010 Bees Knees Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot – a punnet of strawberries and red fruits, it has a refreshing liquorice flavours with orange zest in the finish.
* 2008 June Traminer Vintage – rich golden colour with the smell of ripe grapes and drunk raisins, it covered the mouth really well and left coconut and ripe apricots behind.
DiGiorgio Family Wines
This winery was established by Stefano DiGiorgio, who came to Australia from Italy in 1952. After a brief stint in Queensland, working on the sugar cane fields, the family set up a farm in Lucindale and in 1989, they set aside about 4 hectares on the land for grapevines that they would sell off to other winemaking companies. It wasn’t until 1998 that they decided to make their own wine and ended up purchasing one of the Coonawarra estates in 2002.
These guys produce a great selection of wines and here are our favourites.
2010 Tempranillo – slightly oaky with deep red fruits and plum, it was light and fresh for a red wine and drinkable in the heat.
* 2009 Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon – rich red with purple hues, it was not explosive. Despite the dusty smell, it had a smooth entry with juiciness and vanilla and a dry and spicy finish with tannins.
* 2010 Lucindale Sparkling Merlot – sweet with stewed fruit and honey, there was a refreshing fizz with a rich fruitcake finish.
* 2008 Fortified Shiraz – a rich, sweet smell of berries with a juicy entry but short and clean finish. It wasn’t sickly so it was easy to drink.
* 2011 Botrytis Semillion – honeyed oak with a viscous, mouth-filling flavour sweet with cumquat. There was a crisp acidicy along the sides of the tongue that caused a moderate finish.
Juz had a bottle of 2008 Merlot, which was absolutely divine, so we were excited to come to this winery. It is owned by Richard Hamilton, who also makes wines from McLaren Vale grapes. This estate was established in 1974 and is named after the family ancestor, Lord Leconfield.
While the 2011 Merlot wasn’t as good as the 2008, they had a few other wines that were nice.
Syn Sparkling Shiraz – cherry and raspberry with a bit of chocolate.
* 2011 Noble Riesling – citrus with sweet honey, it covered the mouth very well with floral tastes and juiciness.
* Richard Hamilton Lion Heart – using McLaren Vale grapes, this tawny was rich with burnt caramel, prunes and fruitcake, viscous but with a clean finish.
Dave made the joke on the way here that the owner’s name is probably Alca – as if they haven’t heard that one before!
This winery is located on Neilson’s Block, one of John Riddoch’s original blocks of land. There is a cellar door and winery that overlooks their vines, and we tasted their entire selection, with these being our favourites.
* 2009 Tempranillo – summery smells of raspberry jam, it was slightly spicy with an aniseed aftertaste and a long finish.
2008 Neilson’s Block Merlot – rich smells of dried prunes, a long, juicy finish and sweet nasal fumes.
* The Nectar – floral and sweet with raisins, quince and honey. It covered the mouth fully and finished with mandarin and an acid twist.