We arrived into Coonawarra on a rainy day. We flew from Adelaide to Mount Gambier. It felt like a trip out to Connemara on Aer Arann! The airport turned out to be teenchy and the baggage arrival was via a golf cart to a self collection shed. This was more like it. Welcome to Note 16 of my recent wanderings in the vineyards of Australia.
We were driven along the main drag to Parker Coonawarra Estate. Long lines of conifers yield to a flat and small town with a long straight road beyond and off which the various vineyards are located. On a wet misty day its quite a dreary place. Our first visit sharpened it all up though, especially when the time honored Aussie expression came to mind, Man Up Ecock. You're in one of the renowned cool climate wine growing areas of The World.
Parker Coonawarra is part of the Rathbone Wine Group. (We had already paid visits to their Yarra Valley Yering Station and Margaret River Xanadu) It's small and compact. It has an air of competence to it. We met with winemaker Pete Bissel. It was one of those brilliant meetings. I could have listened to Pete for a very long time. I quickly formed an opinion that this wine is as much a philosophy (his) as it is a product of its environment. Marry the two and you come close to the brilliance of Parker Coonawarra Estate.
|Pete Bissel at Parker Coonawarra|
Pete was generous with his time and his knowledge. He brought us on a trip that showed us how ancient stranded coastlines, limestone reefs and dumped sands have all affected, and been formed into, the terra rossa of the Coonawarra. He brought us through John Riddoch back in 1891 to the present day where there are about 30 producers working the vineyards. He showed us that Cabernet Sauvignon has been cultivated here for over a hundred years! He explained in great detail how he grows grapes, picks them and makes wine. He then showed us the following incredible wines. My notes for each of the following are long, detailed and effusive. There is no doubt but the Terra Rossa First Growth wines are truly magnificent.
2009 Favourite Son Chardonnay
2007 Favourite Son Shiraz
2005 Favourite Son Cabernet Merlot
2005 Merlot Coonawarra Estate
2004 Cabernet Sauvignon Coonawarra Estate
2005 Cabernet Sauvignon Coonawarra Estate
2004 Terra Rossa First Growth
2005 Terra Rossa First Growth