Making it into James Halliday’s illustrious wine bible, the Halliday Wine Companion, is an achievement in itself, but to enter the guide with a score of four stars or more is cause to pause. Ahead, we catch-up with five such wineries to find out the secret to their success.Azur Estate: It’s all about the savoir-vivre
Winemaker Fanchon Ferrandi has brought a bit of the style and spirit of her roots in France to Azur Estate in South Australia’s McLaren Vale.
Q: What’s the thinking behind your wines?
A: McLaren Vale’s climate and laidback lifestyle display similarities to the Cote d’Azur in Nice, which is where the name and style of our wines are inspired.
Q: Why is Azur Estate worth a look?
A: By using a mix of Old and New World techniques, respecting the grapes in the winery and allowing the vineyard to speak, we achieve wines that are a good representation of their origins.
Key varietals: Shiraz and durif.
Flagship wine: Azur Estate Shiraz
Contentious Character: Bucking regional trends
This winery in the hills of Wamboin, near Canberra, is worth hunting out for its cool-climate wines at inviting price points, cellar door with quintessentially Aussie views (think the Snowy Mountains and hopping kangaroos) and spot-on hospitality. Winemaker Jeremy Wilson tells us more.
Q: How is Contentious Character different?
A: We have a fruit salad mix of seven varietals and of these, due to the elevation of our site, we’re breaking the mould of the Canberra region [which is known for shiraz and riesling] by focusing on pinot noir and pinot gris.
Q: Why is your cellar door worth a visit?
A: We do a vertical tasting from the Founder’s range [museum and reserve wines from the original Lambert vineyard that Contentious Character has taken over] that we compare to our current range, so you can experience a great mix of old and new. As well as that, we have an awesome restaurant where you can kick back and relax.
Key varietals: Pinot noir, pinot gris, shiraz, cabernet, merlot, chardonnay and riesling.
Flagship wine: Contentious Character Pinot Gris
Mewstone: Smart cool-climate wines
Named Best New Act at the Young Gun of Wine awards and pinpointed by James Halliday as his Best New Winery, Mewstone has been kicking goals. The product of business-savvy brothers Jonathan and Matthew Hughes, Mewstone is located alongside the picture-perfect D’Entrecasteaux Channel in Tasmania.
Q: What’s the ethos that informs your wines?
A: We want our wine to be enjoyable above all else, from our fresh, fruit-driven hughes&hughes range to our complex, small-batch Mewstone wines. We aim to achieve a balance of texture, acid and flavour in our wines.
Q: What’s special about your patch of Tasmania?
A: Located in the farming community of Flowerpot, our vineyard is right on the bank of the beautiful D’Entrecasteaux Channel. It’s incredibly scenic and a part of Tassie everyone should come and see.
Key varietals: Pinot noir, riesling, syrah, chardonnay, pinot gris and sauvignon blanc.
Flagship wine: Mewstone Pinot Noir
Monterra Wines: A South Australian story
Thanks to great grower relationships – helped in part by the fact that long-time local grower Norm Doole, of DOWIE DOOLE, is one of the winery’s founders – Monterra is able to offer a cross-section of varietals from vineyards across the Adelaide Hills, McLaren Vale (its home base), the Barossa Valley and the Fleurieu Peninsula. Winemaker Mike Farmilo explains.
Q: What’s the philosophy at Monterra Wines?
A: We source grapes from some of the finest growers in South Australia and aim to make wines that strongly reflect their region and variety.
Q: How do you approach the winemaking?
A: First and foremost, we make wines that we like to drink, which means fresh, fruity and smooth. Our goal is to create balanced wines, ideally enjoyed with contemporary cuisine and a sense of fun.
Key varietals: Montepulciano, shiraz, cabernet sauvignon, pinot noir, tempranillo, sangiovese, nero d’Avola, pinot gris and sauvignon blanc.
Flagship wine: The Cordelia McLaren Vale Shiraz
Rikard Wines: An exacting approach
Based in a high-altitude, cool-climate area of the Orange wine region in New South Wales, the influence of place is integral to Rikard’s idiosyncratic wines. As well as that, it’s the family-run winery’s core tenets of hard work and tenacity that have seen it soar.
Q: Is there a secret to the success of your wines?
A: It’s about highlighting five key attributes: flavour, complexity, balance, texture and length.
Q: Why should we try your wines?
A: We go to great lengths to produce great wine. We handpick all our fruit. We do multiple picks over a range of clones in tiny batches. Once in the winery, we handle the fruit gently and minimise intervention as much as possible. We’re about quality and complexity – always.
Key varietals: Pinot noir, chardonnay, riesling and shiraz.
Flagship wine: Rikard Black Label Pinot Noir