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Young Guns of Wine – Part 2

By Alex Russell on March 25, 2015 in Food

Photo: Alex Russell

Photo: Alex Russell

Welcome to part two of my five part series on the Young Guns of Wine Awards (, which highlights some of the best young winemakers coming through the ranks in the Aussie wine industry.

Alex Head (Head Wines)

‘Heady’ burst onto the scene in about 2007, quickly gaining incredible reviews for his ‘Blonde’ and ‘Brunette’ Shirazes (including 96-97 points from Halliday), which usually sell out quickly each year. They’re priced around the $40 and $50 mark and are sensational examples of Barossa Shiraz. The entry-level ‘RED; Shiraz and GSM also go pretty well for their price.

Some new releases have appeared in recent years, including the ‘Contrarian’ (a Barossa Shiraz made in a very different style) and a new Eden Valley Riesling. Get on his mailing list, as his wines move quickly.

William Downie (William Downie, Thousand Candles)

After living and working in Burgundy, Downie set up his own label in 2003. His wines are ‘not added to or subtracted from’. He was Gourmet Traveller Wine Magazine’s Young Australian Winemaker of the Year in 2006.

Downie focuses on three Pinots, one each from the Yarra, Mornington and Gippsland regions (all $65ish). They’re hard to get, but are certainly worth tracking down if Pinot is your thing.

He’s also been working at Thousand Candles. At the moment, they produce one red. In 2011, it was mostly Shiraz, with a touch of Pinot Noir and Sauvignon Blanc – an interesting blend, I’m sure you will agree. New vines are being planted, including some Cabernet, and the blend will change from year to year depending on the vintage. They’re not cheap (about $110), but they are fascinating.

Ben Chipman (Tomfoolery)

I met ‘Chippy’ when he worked at Rusden. He was marketing their wines, but they also allowed him to make his own wines in their winery, along with Toby Yap. Things went gangbusters, so they’re building their own winery.

You’ll find some really interesting wines here, including the ‘Artful Dodger’ Shiraz ($95). Personal favourites are the ‘Monkey Business’ Cabernet Franc ($50), the ‘Black and Blue’ Barossa Shiraz ($40), the ‘Skullduggery’ Shiraz/Mataro ($30) and the ‘Son of a Gun’ Cabernet Shiraz (around $30). I’ve noticed their ‘Young Blood’ Barossa Shiraz in more than a few bars around the place, too.

Not only is Chippy a top bloke, he and Toby are making some great wine (People’s Choice in 2014) and it’s all bloody good value. Get them through their website.

Dominic & Krystina Morris (Pondalowie)

The Morris’s wines are incredible value. They focus on Shiraz, Cabernet and Tempranillo, with a few other interesting wines thrown in the mix. You can pick up a tasting pack from them (one dozen bottles, with two or three bottles each of five different wines) for $280 (see their website).

Bendigo is a great wine area, but many drinkers stick to the more well-known regions, like the Barossa and Yarra. It’s a shame, because they’re missing some great drops. The 2012 Vineyard Blend, Shiraz and Shiraz Viognier all picked up 95 points from Halliday, which is incredible when you see their prices. The Vineyard Blend is $20, the Shiraz is $25 and the Shiraz Viognier is $30. All are included in the special tasting dozen (although the Shiraz has now ticked over to 2013). Seriously, these are wines that are worth trying if you are a Shiraz drinker, regardless of your favourite region.