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Beechworth’s Best – A Wander Through Warner Vineyard

By Alex Russell on August 26, 2016 in Food

The Warner Vineyard has made quite a name for itself. Fruit from the vineyard is sold to two highly regarded producers: Giaconda and Jamsheed. Giaconda is generally recognised as being in the highest echelon of Australian producers, and sommeliers go nuts for Jamsheed.

In 2012, the winemaker from Jamsheed, Gary Mills, started making wine for the Warner Vineyard to sell under its own label. I met with Stuart Warner and Jeffrey Rohde (his agent) when they were in Sydney recently. Great guys with great wines.

The Warner Vineyard is in Beechworth (northern Victoria) and the Miner’s Rest Hotel was a pub in Beechworth during the gold rush era, hence the label’s ‘The Rest’ range. Future releases will follow a similar gold rush era pub theme and, from what I hear, these future releases will be fascinating. Watch this space.

2013 ‘The Rest’ Chardonnay
There is some great Chardonnay coming out of Beechworth, and this is no exception. I love Chardonnay made with indigenous (a.k,a, ‘wild’) yeast, as this is, as it has some real character to it. The oak here is one to two year-old French stuff, so it doesn’t overpower. It’s drinking very well now and will develop over the next few years. Have this with your next roast chicken.

2014 Roussanne Marsanne
Many won’t know these grapes, so here’s a quick rundown. Grenache, Shiraz and Mataro/Mourvedre are the three main red Rhone grapes, while Viognier, Marsanne and Roussanne are three of the most commonly used white Rhone grapes. Some of you will have ventured into Viognier territory before. Venture a little further and you’ll find an incredibly rich wine, which is Stuart’s preferred style for Roussanne-type wines. It’s spent 10 months on lees (adding to the richness) and has gone into older oak to add some flavour and texture without overpowering the wine.

Stuart prefers not to blend grapes together (he likes varietal expression), so you might see a straight Roussanne in other vintages, but sometimes blending actually makes for better wines and that’s what’s happened here. This is a really lovely, big white.

2013 ‘The Rest’ Shiraz
And now we come to what the vineyard is famous for: Shiraz. 2013 was a sensational year for Shiraz in Beechworth. A lot of love has gone into making this wine. Handpicked, indigenous yeast, 60% whole bunch. It’s a belter of a Shiraz. The first things you taste are gorgeously fresh, vibrant, red berry flavours – the freshness is quite remarkable. Then as the wine goes on, you come across layer after layer of complexity. If you’ve never tried Beechworth Shiraz before, give it a go. If you have tried it, you’ve probably already placed your next order halfway through reading this article!

Keep an eye on Twitter (@WarnerVineyard) for new outlets in Sydney. At the time of printing, the wines are available at the Four in Hand Hotel and Oak Barrel, with more stockists to come.