Parker Coonawarra Estate, Hesketh Wine, Vickery Wines and Wakefield Wines

by Vic Harradine

Parker Coonawarra Estate

Parker Coonawarra Estate wines owe their heritage to John and Faye Parker who in 1985, after considerable research, purchased land from the Abbey family, planting pre-phylloxera, Bordeaux-clone Cabernet Sauvignon vines in the now famous, limestone-based, terra rossa soil of the Coonawarra GI. They experienced immediate success. Their 1988 ‘First Growth’ won the ‘Penfold Highland Trophy’ and was judged the 6th best Bordeaux-style in the 1991 International Wine challenge in London. Parker continues to gain accolades as the ‘First Growth’ is now included in the prestigious, ‘Langton’s Classification of Australian Fine Wines’.

Parker Coonawarra Estate

The present owners of the winery and the revered land that sustains their vineyards—they see themselves as ‘custodians’—are the Hesketh family. They also have very deep roots in the wine world with patriarch Robert sporting five decades and present proprietor, son Jonathon, continuing to add to his multiple decades—apples don’t fall too far from the tree.

Phil Lehmann, son of the late, great, Peter Lehmann, is the winemaker while Brett Williams provides meticulous care and management for the estate-owned vines and supplies fruit for some wines from his own equally, well-tended vineyards. Phil is also winemaker for Hesketh, Vickery and St. John’s Road Winery.

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  • The following wines from Parker Coonawarra and Hesketh Wines are available in Ontario for daily delivery to your home, office or restaurant online from Select Wines.

Vintages Release date: TBD

• Fruit for the following Parker Coonawarra Estate ‘Terra Rossa’ Cabernet Sauvignon is sourced from the rich red soils at the southern end of Coonawarra on their Abbey vineyard from 4 separate blocks—Scarlett, Pepper Tree Single Wire, Pepper Tree Double Wire and Ash. The micro-climate provides beneficial, extended hang time.

***** cellar Exceptional Value!
Parker Coonawarra ‘Terra Rossa’ Cabernet Sauvignon 2015
Coonawarra $34.95 14.5% alcohol
This is both elegant and firmly structured showcasing ripe fruit, deft balance, tang-laden acidity and a monumentally long finish and aftertaste. Aromas of red and black berry fruit mingle with spice and hints of mint and mocha on the nose. It coats the palate with a medium-plus bodied, nicely textured surge of boysenberry and blueberry interweaving with fennel and dark bittersweet chocolate. The aftertaste goes on and on with juicy ripe fruit and excellent acidity underpinned by fine-grained tannin. Open from 2019 to 2035. (Vic Harradine)

**** drink or cellar
Parker Coonawarra Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2015
Coonawarra $19.95 (467571) 14.5% alcohol
Perfumed aromas of minty notes, spice and dark berry fruit open the door to a smooth and mellow flow of red berry fruit and savory herbs interwoven with red licorice on the palate. It’s medium bodied with generous mouthfeel and a lengthy finish and aftertaste Pour now after a two-hour aeration/decant alongside rare to medium-rare, grilled striploin. Vic Harradine)

• The following fabulous Coonawarra Chardonnay was fashioned from cooler plots predominantly from viticulturist, Brett Williams’ vineyard, the balance from a small plot from V&A Lane. The Williams fruit was barrel-fermented—first malolactic conversion followed by alcohol fermentation –then aged in new French oak barriques for 9 months with regular lees stirring. The V&A was fermented in stainless steel and blended later.

****1/2 drink or cellar
Parker Coonawarra Estate Chardonnay 2015
Coonawarra $19.95 (447029) 13.5% alcohol
This value-laden gem leaps from the glass with aromas of baking spice, peach, apricot and nutty notes. It coats the palate with a nicely textured surge of lemon zest and green apple adorned with melon and pear. It’s mid-plus weight with good complexity, structure and purity of fruit—it’s balanced and beautiful from twist top to last drop. Pour with roast chicken, veal or pork. (Vic Harradine)

Vintages Release date: TBD

• The following Hesketh Sauvignon Blanc is the 2016 vintage. The 2015 vintage is presently available on Vintages’ shelves—you may want to give it a try.

**** drink now
Hesketh ‘Bright Young Things’ Sauvignon Blanc 2016
South Australia $14.95 (447086) 13.5% alcohol
Fruit for this was sourced 2/3rds from Adelaide Hills and 1/3rd from the Limestone Coast GI. Lifted aromas of tropical fruit and floral notes abound. A light-medium bodied, nicely textured, balanced stream of crisp, clean, refreshing flavour bathes the palate infusing the mouth-watering finish and aftertaste—Granny Smith apple and melon decorated with savory herbal notes. The price-quality balance tips well in your favour. (Vic Harradine)

• Shiraz and Mataro, aka Mourvèdre, fruit for the following wine was sourced from the Old Mundulla Vineyard, then open top, cool fermented on skins 8-10 days. Winemaker Phil Lehmann maintains, ‘cool fermentation retains purity, enhances aromatics and lowers tannin extraction’. 90% was then matured six months in 2nd and 3rd fill, 300L French hogsheads before final blending and bottling.

**** drink now
Hesketh ‘Mezzo – Single Vineyard’ Shiraz/Mataro 2015
Tatiara District, South Australia $19.95 14.5% alcohol
This red blend is rich and juicy with ripe fruit flavour underpinned by firm structure. There’s persistent purity of fruit, deft balance and lingering aftertaste. Aromas of spice, vanilla and dark berry fruit introduce a medium-plus bodied, generously textured river of bramble berry and tang-laden red cherry interwoven with mocha and wisps of peppery notes. The finish layers on fruit and acidity in equal portions with a brushstroke of ripe, fine-grained tannin. Aerate/decant for two hours prior to serving. (Vic Harradine)

Vickery Wines

John VickeryJohn Vickery has been working with grapes and vines for over 65 years and specifically with Riesling from Eden Valley and Watervale for more than 60 of those years. He has more than 50 Trophies and an outstanding 400 Gold Medals plus a coveted, Jimmy Watson Trophy. In 2003 he was judged by his peers to be, ‘Australia’s Greatest Living Winemaker’, in a poll conducted by Epicure. He feels the greatest contribution to the improvement of Australian Riesling was made when he re-introduced the screw cap in 1998 on Richmond Grove’s Riesling. Phil Lehmann now has the pleasure to learn at the hand of the master by handling the winemaking for Vickery wines. Phil’s dad, Peter Lehmann, has now passed, but before that, John and Peter were very best friends. Not surprisingly, Phil is John’s godchild.

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Vintages Release date: TBD

****1/2 drink or cellar
Vickery Watervale Riesling 2016
Watervale $23.00 12.0% alcohol
This classy, elegant Riesling dances from the glass with robust aromas of citrus, spice and mineral notes. An outpouring of Key Lime, lemon pie filling and saline/minerality ride a bracing line of delectable acidity across the palate infusing the crisp, clean and refreshing aftertaste. There’s excellent depth, good balance and ability to age here. Pour with grilled calamari or pan-seared fish. (Vic Harradine)

St. John’s Road Winery

St. John’s Road is a collaboration of madly passionate growers, winemakers and visionaries who illustrate the belief that what it takes to make fine wine can’t all be found in a manual, in the lab or even in what you see and do today. It’s not only found in the soil, the vines and the winery; it’s found in history, and learning from it; in old traditions, and melding them with modern techniques; and innovation, not only centred on making things easier or making more money, but on making fantastic wine.

It’s found with growers like Ben Zander and his parents Ian and Jo and their fabulous Riesling from cool-climate Eden Valley. It’s displayed in Angie and Paul Schutz’s low-yielding, gnarly, 80-year old bush vines and the fruit from select growers, the Kalleskes and the Rileys. You’ll sense it in the winemaking team of Chief Winemaker, Phil Lehmann along with Charlie Ormsby, James Leinert and viticulturist, Warwick Murray. Most importantly, and this is their goal; you can taste it in the fabulous wines of St. John’s Road.

Some of the gang from St. John's Road winery - Phil Lehmann in check shirt

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Vintages Release date: TBD

• The following Chardonnay is unique and stunningly delicious. Sourced from Dijon clone fruit from the cooler Eden Valley, 60% underwent malolactic conversion before indigenous-yeast fermentation in 50% new and 50% second-fill, French, 300L Hogshead, remaining in barrel 11 months on their lees.

****1/2 drink or cellar
St. John’s Road ‘PL – Reversed Ferment’ Chardonnay 2015
Eden Valley $30.00 13.5 % alcohol
This is a spectacular cool-climate Chardonnay balanced-on-a-pin with depth, complexity and charm. Alluring aromas of baking spice, sweet vanilla and citrus precede a medium-plus bodied stream of full-blown flavour—lemon curd, Granny Smith apple and nutty notes. It finishes with mouth-watering citrus tang and oaky bits. This needs a further, carefully cellared, 12 months in bottle to be handsomely rewarded with a 5-star wine. (Vic Harradine)

Wakefield Wines

• Wakefield Wines is owned and managed by the Taylor family of Australia. Their wines trade as ‘Taylor Wines’ in most of the Southern Hemisphere and Asia. They trade as ‘Wakefield Wines’ in most of the Northern Hemisphere, including Canada, due to trademark restrictions concerning the primarily Port producer, Taylor, Fladgate & Yeatman Ltd.

Taylors Vineyard - Clare Valley

Although the winery was established 1969, previous to this, Bill Taylor senior along with sons, Bill and John were publicans and wine merchants in Sydney, NSW with an avowed passion for premium red wine from Bordeaux. Their passion led them to believe they could produce wine of similar or better quality in Australia. In 1969, after considerable research, they uncovered a 178 Ha plot of terra rossa soil over limestone in the Clare Valley enjoying suitable diurnal temperature swings—warm days, cool nights—good drainage and a fairly high water table. It’s here they dug in their vines and their lofty aspirations.

Wakefield Estate Cabernet SauvignonTheir very first 1973 Cabernet Sauvignon vintage netted the ‘Best Red Wine in Show’ at nearby Adelaide and followed up that year winning gold at every national show it entered. Their Estate Cabernet Sauvignon continues to be sourced from the same vineyard. Perhaps the most striking thing about this family and their wine is their total dedication to excellence. They remain family-owned and run without pressure to reach ever-escalating pre-tax profits as with many public corporations. They are proud members of the select group of Australia’s First Families of Wine. Touring the winery, learning of their history and walking the vineyards left me appreciative of their family vision, values and continuing passion to make value-for-money, exceptional wine, across their broad portfolio. They farm and produce sustainably. Their Eighty Acres range of wines is the first, international 100% carbon neutral wine, having its carbon footprint assessed using the international standard for life-cycle assessment (ISO14044). They offset via reforestation, re-cycled water and light-weight bottles.

An enlightening, enjoyable luncheon with 3rd generation Clinton Taylor, Company Director and General Manager Winery Operations did nothing but strengthen belief it's one of the most innovative, progressive, family-run wineries in Australia. In 2015, for the 3rd consecutive year, Taylor was included in the top five best performing wineries in the world, 2016 results not yet tabulated; perhaps a four-peat? Their 2013 Estate Chardonnay was the most awarded Chardonnay in the world; in the top 10 Syrah/Shiraz wines in the world, they take up three spots—most of any winery—with the 2012 St Andrews Shiraz, 2013 Estate Shiraz and 2010 St Andrews Shiraz. In the Top 100 Wines of the World, Taylors Wines make up six on the list, with more points than any other Australian winery.

Taylor family (left to right) Clinton, Bill senior, Justin, Mitchell

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  • Wakefield wines are available in Ontario for daily delivery to your home, office or restaurant online from Profile Wine Group.

Vintages Release date: May 13, 2017

****1/2 drink or cellar
Wakefield Wines ‘Estate’ Merlot 2015
Clare Valley $18.95 (683201) 14.0% alcohol
Black raspberry, vanilla and black plum aromas provide segue for a flood of rich, luscious palate-coating, boysenberry jam nicely balanced with tang-laden passion fruit, spice and racy pie cherry. There’s terrific value, good structure, soft tannin, smooth texture and persistent purity of fruit. It’s lively and juicy with a fruit-filled, tang-laden, and monumentally long aftertaste—it was tough to spit; it flirted with 5 stars. Pour with braised lamb shanks and grilled root veggies. (Vic Harradine)

Vintages Release date: May 27, 2017

• Fruit for the following Wakefield Chardonnay was sourced from their Estate vineyard in cool-climate, Clare Valley. It was picked at night, taken directly to the winery, chilled and whole-bunch pressed; after settling most was fermented in French oak barrel, only 10% new, and stayed on lees a short four months, with the oak nicely integrated almost at bottling.

**** drink or cellar
Wakefield Wines ‘Estate’ Chardonnay 2016
Clare Valley $15.95 (711556) 13.5% alcohol
This offers a generously textured, mouth-filling stream of crisp, refreshing flavour from twist top to final drop of the lengthy finish and aftertaste. Aromas of tropical fruit, ginger and nutmeg abound. They precede a medium-full bodied, tapestry of palate-bathing flavour—white nectarine, apple pie spice, nutty notes and gorgeous lemony tang. It’s well balanced, well priced and well … delicious. Long story short—pick up a few. (Vic Harradine)

Vintages Release date: July 8, 2017

****1/2 drink now
Wakefield Wines ‘Estate’ Pinot Noir 2016
Adelaide Hills $19.95 (197392) 14.0% alcohol
Lifted aromas of red berry fruit, cherry and savory herb set the table for a smorgasbord of palate-coating flavour. Racy passion fruit and tangy red currant interweave with juicy black cherry and ripe raspberry berry notes providing a yin and yang / sweet and tang experience that’s balanced and beautiful. It’s medium-weight and well textured with a dry, mouth-watering finish that lingers—you shouldn’t, the price-quality balance tips well in your favour. (Vic Harradine)

Vintages Release date: TBD

• The following Wakefield ‘Estate’ Cab is fashioned for the long haul with firm tannin underpinning, full complement of ripe luscious fruit and excellent, cool-climate Clare tang and acidity.

**** drink now
Wakefield Wines ‘Estate’ Cabernet Sauvignon 2015
Clare Valley $18.95 (744235) 14.0% alcohol
The lifted lively nose is resplendent with black currant, spice and espresso roast aromas. It coats the palate with a full-bodied, full-textured, full-Monty gusher of chewy cassis, mulberry, peppery and minty notes joined by tang-laden pie cherry persisting through the lengthy mouth-watering finish. It’s a bit taut at present handsomely rewarding a three-hour aeration/decant or careful cellaring 2018-2023. (Vic Harradine)

• The following ‘Jaraman’ Shiraz and its label have quite a story to tell. You may have noticed the three tiny Seahorses on Wakefield wine labels. Shortly after the Taylor family purchased their Clare Valley property they dug a dam uncovering tiny shells of Seahorses. In geological terms that indicates a former salt-water body of water (true Seahorses live only in salt, or brackish water) and this would lead one to believe there’s also limestone base. There was and still is, and it and the terra rossa topsoil contribute to the high quality of this and all Wakefield Clare wines. Jaraman translates to ‘horse’ in a number of Australian Aboriginal languages and dialects.

***** drink or cellar Exceptional Value!
Wakefield Wines ‘Jaraman’ Shiraz 2015
Clare Valley / McLaren Vale $24.95 (377036) 14.5% alcohol
Baking spice, dark cherry/berry fruit, sweet vanilla and sprigs of savory herb aromas leap from this stunning multi-region Shiraz. It’s rich, luscious, balanced and beautiful showcasing a dazzling array of ripe fruit flavour with mulberry, black plum and red cherry to the fore adorned with black pepper, dark bittersweet chocolate and hints of eucalyptus. There’s persistent purity of fruit, good structure, complexity and an incredibly long finish and aftertaste. (Vic Harradine)