- Tuesday 12 September 2017
- Written by Chris Earl
WineHunters reckon Heathcote wine region is the most underappreciated wine region in Australia ... and potentially the best. Some of the wines coming from here are staggering, boasting Barossa-level power with Yarra-style finesse. You don't have to take our word for it. There is good reason renowned French winemaker Maison M.Chapoutier bought land in Heathcote and the Pyrenees to make his best Australian wines...
We recently revisited Heathcote, and all our best dreams of AUS wines came true. From our weekend there, each of us got to cast two votes for the best stops - all ten votes went to only six wineries. So here are the ones you simply must visit.
* Merindoc Cellar Door - Merindoc owns a few vineyards in and around the Heathcote region. They are primarily growers (selling their grapes on to others) focused on low yield, high quality fruit, but they also produce a range of wines. And what they produce is remarkable! From a sexy Viognier to an enchanting Nebiolo to a gorgeous Cab Sav - you won't want to miss these. (We can't wait to try their first Montepulciano next year.) Merindoc was known as Shelmerdine (the family behind the enterprise) in a past life and currently produces its wines under the Merindoc and Willoughby Bridge labels. Only three generations old, but you'd guess this family winery has been at it for ages. Notable for quality of the wine and experimental winemaking. Steve, who did our tasting, was fantastic - so delightfully informative. D and S's Pick.
* M. Chapoutier Australia - Though not technically a cellar door (it is a label-specific wine shop in town selling only Chapoutier's marks), Chapoutier is a world class stop, on par with the best wine suites of the Barossa. Chapoutier owns vineyards in France and the Pyrenees as well as Heathcote. This stop in Heathcote features wines from all three. Most importantly, all the wines are beautiful and marked by the stamp of expert French winemaking. Notable here is a wide range of wines to try, all of a high quality, and all sharing a certain consistency of the winemaker's signature in the wines themselves. This is rare to find. Hopefully Mitchell will do your tasting; he's one cool dude. S and R's Pick.
* Heathcote Wine Hub - A wine lover's dream on steroids!!!! This enchanting general store in the middle of Heathcote offers 24 wines on tasting from winemakers across the region. If you had time for only one stop and want to understand Heathcote wine, this must be it. Truly if you run through the full tasting here, you will understand why we believe Heathcote is a contender for the greatest wine region of Australia. We counted three 10/10 wines and four 9/10 wines here - good luck finding that on tasting anywhere else under one roof! C and R's Pick.
* Jasper Hill - Much has been made of this organic and biodynamic winemaker, and indeed their love for the terroir shines through in the wines they create. One of the truest reflections of Heathcote soil and fruits, Jasper's are vivacious, fruitful, and elegant wines. Be sure to call well ahead. They are infrequently open. Z and C's Pick.
* Downing Estate - Stop here while you can! A true Heathcote stalwart, Downing has at last leased their vineyard to the mighty Treasury Wine Estates . They are now selling down their reserve stock. Yes, this is heart-breaking for wine lovers such as us, BUT, you still have a chance to buy the wines of a house so disciplined they don't release reds until they are at least four years old. Z's Pick.
* Sanguine Estate Wines - Heaven! If you love beautiful Shirazes, look no further! This really is the pinnacle of what Heathcote Shiraz is all about. Their Shirazes rightfully take home award after award. And who can't appreciate a house serving up only a few red wines?!?! That is the level of commitment that really pays. Some say Sanguine's best is the equal of Penfolds' world-famous Grange or Henschke's stop-you-in-your-tracks Hill of Grace. But we noticed one big difference for sure - attractive prices we could afford ;-) D's Top Pick.
Happy Hunting ... #WhyWeLoveWine