Each year, it’s always exciting to discover the wineries that are featured for the first time in the Halliday Wine Companion. Here, we talk to five such producers from around New South Wales.
Dirt Candy Wine, Hunter ValleyHaving established their winery just two years ago, winemaker Daniel Payne and wife Jenni have come a long way in a short time, and their natural-leaning wines are turning heads.
Q. What did you set out to achieve with your winery?
A. Each of our wines is handmade in small batches with a simple winemaking philosophy – to create unique wines to be enjoyed with great food and great friends. To be part of the Companion is a humbling experience and great recognition of some of the hard work that has gone into establishing our winery.
Q. What can you tell us about your approach to winemaking?
A. Each year, I aim to create a couple of unique wines that push the winemaking boundaries by playing around with things like skin-contact, unique blends or pet-nats. I love working with alternative varieties, but my recently released pet-nats are really exciting as a wine style. They’re lots of fun and also pair perfectly with the Australian climate.
Must-try: The 2019 Dirt Candy Wine White Knight Pet Nat and the 2019 Ruby Rabbit Rosé Pet Nat are excellent examples of this style.
JS Wine, Orange
Established in 2016, JS Wine is evolving fast, with winemaker Philip Shaw particularly excited about their new cellar door, which is set for completion around the middle of next year.
Q. Have you noticed any changes since being included in the 2020 Halliday Wine Companion?
A. We are really excited to be a part of the Companion for the first time, and next year plan to present more of our Reserve Series wines, especially the one from the 2016 vintage. We have definitely received more inquiries than before for our Reserve Series.
Q. What are you most excited about right now in your collection?
A. The inspiration of JS Wine is always to produce premium fine wine, and we’re particularly excited by our entire Reserve Series, especially our 2017 Reserve Shiraz, which received a score of 95 points. Another wine we’re really proud of is our Reserve Chardonnay – from a high elevation and cool climate, it’s an excellent variety to enjoy.
Must-try: Enjoy medium-bodied, cool-climate styles? Put the 2017 JS Wine Reserve the Moon Merlot, rated 94 points, on the list for your next special occasion.
Sans + Pareil Estate, GriffithThird-generation vigneron Aaron Salvestrin and his team released their first wines in 2017 and are continuing to do things a little differently.
Q. Can you tell us a little about the inspiration behind your winery?
A. My family has been in the wine industry since the mid-1800s. They then migrated to Australia from Italy in the early 1950s, and discovered the ideal growing conditions of Australia in the Riverina. Generations later, sharing the same passion, I decided to break through the past tradition. I wanted to create something different to the norm, starting with our company’s name – Sans Pareil means “no equivalent”.
Q. What have been the biggest challenges you’ve hit while establishing Sans Pareil?
A. The most challenging part has most definitely been managing time – building my brands and markets overseas, while also running the business back here at home. For 18 months, I almost worked around the clock every day.
Must-try: There are three labels in the Sans Pareil collection, with the 100 Million % range the most striking from its Comic Label. Better still, you won’t pay more than $40 a bottle across the collection.
Sapling Yard, Canberra District
Winemaker Carla Rodeghiero started her label in her backyard shed six years ago, since moving to Lake George and increasing her range for the 2019 vintage. Sapling Yard has landed its first-time entry with four and a half stars.
Q. What was the inspiration behind your winery?
A. My goal has been to make cool-climate wine styles that are savoury, textural and, above all, delicious. My inspiration came from working in a wine bar in London, where I came across a cool-climate Australian shiraz and vowed to make something similar one day. When I returned, I enrolled in a wine science degree, bought a patch of land in Braidwood and planted a vineyard.
Q. Which of your wines are you most excited by right now?
A. We’re mesmerised by our 2019 The Four Pinots, which blends pinot gris, pinot noir, pinot meunier and pinot blanc. It’s delicious and something totally different to anything you may have tried – a white wine made with red and white varieties that’s crunchy, fruity and savoury.
Must-try: Sapling Yard is about to release its 2019 Rosé, which blends pinot noir and gamay, which has also seen a little skin contact.
Granitevale Estate, Canberra District
Winemaker Greg Birch has pretty much seen it all since establishing Granitevale Estate in 1999, having since retained his focus on capturing the quality of this region in his wines.
Q. What did you set out to achieve with your winery?
A. To produce wine made and sold with pride, and an affection for the tradition and processes that create great wine. Despite frosts, cows, storms and eight seasons of drought, we’ve never compromised on quality to continually produce wines that exemplify the Canberra District.
Q. What should people make time for at your cellar door?
A. Don’t rush, enjoy the ambience and try our ice wine, sangiovese blends and sparkling wines, which are all part of the experience. We’re particularly excited about the emergence of our sangiovese blends, both our table wines and sparklings, and we think our cabernet as another great achievement, too.
Must-try: For a sparkling with a twist, seek out Granitevale Estate’s sparkling Sangiovese Rosé – the new release is a first for the winery.
*Wineries pay to be a part of this feature.