It was something that those of us in the wine business should never do, and I was guilty. I was attending a series of seminars, master classes, tastings and dinners in South Australia before heading out to visit some of the regions. On my last evening in Adelaide I attended a gathering, along with several hundred other wine experts from around the world. Australia was putting its best foot forward and free-pouring a wide selection of hundreds of its best wines. There were several stations of the most delicious food on hand. Owners, winemakers and sales people were there to meet with us, talk about their wines, and of course pour copiously. I met many fine and interesting folk – wine people are generally a passionate and friendly bunch – and in the course of the evening I was guilty of overindulging slightly. Somehow I ended up at a bar drinking beer with the band who entertained us that night – a folky roots group somewhat akin to Mumford and Sons (though they didn’t want to hear that).
The next morning was the grand wine tasting. About 200 wineries were in attendance, ready and waiting to pour wine in the largest wine forum ever undertaken in Australia, and there I was, not – shall I say – at my best. Quickly I did something else that wine tasters should not do. I downed two or three espressos. After picking on some food and tasting a few wines I began to feel fine.
It was at this point that I approached a table of wines from Howard Vineyard and asked to taste. The pourer was a friendly guy named Tom Northcott who I soon learned was the executive winemaker at the winery. As soon as I tasted, my senses jerked to attention. I was immediately drawn to the purity of the fruit and the finesse of the wines. They had an elegance that was right up my alley and I was hooked.
Howard Vineyard is a family-owned winery in Adelaide Hills producing estate-grown wines. The land was purchased in the late 1990s and the brand was established in 2005. There are two well-situated vineyards with northwest-facing slopes which offer good exposure to the sun, and red loam soils which provide good drainage as well as a mineral structure to the wines. The Nairne vineyard is ideal for cool climate reds and the Schoenthal vineyard, being at a higher elevation, is used for whites and Pinot Noir.
ABC Fine Wine & Spirits is happy to offer two wines from Howard Vineyard:
Clover Shiraz: “The rich palate displays blackberries, olives, white pepper, blueberry and spice, followed by smooth French oak and perfectly balanced tannins. This wine will benefit from careful cellaring and is best decanted thirty minutes prior to serving.” – Winery Notes (Gold Medal from Wine Showcase Magazine)
Picnic Sauvignon Blanc: “Another take on Hills Sauvignon Blanc that treks a clever path towards the more lemon and citrus end of the spectrum but not forgetting its telltale passionfruits and lightly scoped tropical fruit salad elements as well, all cast with lovely tangy acidity and a lift of musk-like spice.” – Tony Love’s Top 100 Wines 2014 (Four Stars)
Both wines are excellent examples of the overwhelming quality to be found in the wines of Australia, as well as irrefutable proof that an under-the-weather taster can still sometimes choose well. Don’t hesitate to try them!
Bill Stobbs, ABC Fine Wine & Spirits wine supervisor
Follow me on Twitter @abcwinebills