For the love of red | Australia's First Families of Wine
Each of the First Families – Brown Brothers, Campbells, d’Arenberg, Henschke, Howard Park, Jim Barry, McWilliam’s, Tahbilk, Taylors, Tyrrell’s and Yalumba – has helped shape the face of Australian red wine and we caught up with some of the members to find out how their love of red was sparked and how it endures today.
Chester Osborn of d’Arenberg can’t quite pinpoint when his love of red wine began, but thinks it happened with a chance opening. "I remember opening a flagon of d’Arry’s Original Shiraz Grenache after climbing around in the bottle stacks when I was younger, and thinking, ‘This is pretty cool.’"
For Jessica Hill-Smith of Yalumba and Mitchell Taylor, it was also family classics that won them over. "Our Bush Vine Grenache was the first wine I loved," recalls Jessica, while Mitchell Taylor says, "The first red wine I fell in love with was Taylors Cabernet Sauvignon 1978. It’s one of the first wines I shared with my father and it’s an incredibly important variety to the Taylor family."
While for Justine Henschke, it was a benchmark French red. "I remember drinking a Chateau Margaux 1st Growth Margaux 1985 with my family when I was in my early 20s, and thinking it was amazing to be looking at a wine that was my birth year, plus being 21 years of age – it was ageing beautifully and it helped me to appreciate back vintage wines."
Since that first bottle, these key wine players have watched as Australian wine-lovers have stuck with the classics, while also venturing into new red territories.
As Justine observes, "Shiraz has always had an historical focus for wine lovers and we expect it will continue." But she also cites Grenache and Mataro as varieties that have seen a resurgence.
Chester agrees, saying, "The demand for Grenache is the highest I’ve ever seen it in my 40 years of winemaking."
"But at the end of the day," Mitchell says, "People are seeking quality wines that express a sense of place and Australian reds do that incredibly well."
A taste of terroir
While Yalumba, Henschke, d’Arenberg and Taylors all call South Australia home, their reds deliver this unique regional expression thanks to careful vineyard practices and considered winemaking.
As Mitchell describes, "There’s a saying at Taylors, ‘Respect the fruit.’ We know that great wines start in the vineyard and this guides winemaking each vintage."
It’s a similar philosophy at both d’Arenberg and Henschke. As Chester explains, "The d’Arenberg style is very much driven by terroir, by the environment. We have a lot of fragrance, a lot of earthiness, a lot of fine structure."
While Justine describes, "Our red wines have a strong sense of place, complemented by traditional winemaking in open submerged cap fermenters and careful oak maturation, which positively influences the long-ageing potential of these unique wines."
the ultimate collection
Each of the 11 families has selected a red (two from Tahbilk) to allow you to experience the power and passion that goes into every glass.
Taylors have chosen their Heritage Cabernet Sauvignon, with Mitchell saying, "This wine is inspired by the original Taylors Cabernet Sauvignon first released in 1973."
From Yalumba, it’s the Samuel’s Collection Shiraz Cabernet, which, Jessica says is, "a nod to the Aussie Clarets of the past."
While for Justine, her family’s Johann’s Garden Grenache Shiraz Mataro is all about sheer enjoyment. "I love that this wine is a medium-bodied, elegant style with a soft, luscious palate and balanced acidity," she says.
It’s a similar story with the d’Arenberg Love Grass Shiraz, with Chester saying it has, "Great ageability, beautiful characters, plenty of terroir."
So join Australia’s First Families of Wine and indulge in a glass or two, as you discover personal stories from the key figures who have helped shape what Australian red wine is today.