This is the second of 2 cellar doors I visited on my recent Barossa trip . Williamstown is on the southern edge of the Barossa and it is the way I travel to Tanunda and the other parts of the Barossa.
This is definitely a family affair with a real sense of history here. The Wilson family grape growing business started in 1860, by Edmund Major Wilson and that makes the 2010 vintage the 150th vintage on the property. They have 2 rows of extremely low yielding Shiraz with the remainder of the vines between 30 and 60 years old. The current incumbents of this history are the 4th and 5th generations of the Wilson Family. Since 2002 they have been making their wine under the Linfield Road label.
They have seen a need for quality meeting place for the locals so they are filling that need with their “Friday Unwind” nights once a month during the warmer months with Food, Music and Art – plus of course wine. The view from their cellar door area is wonderful with vineyard on one side and forest to the other. Check out their website that includes details of coming events.
2008 “The Steam Maker” Riesling ($A18)
The offerings from 40 year old vines are made into this wine. The nose had some developed kerosene aromas with hints of apple still coming through and the flavors were lighter than expected but the citrus base was coming through plus the acid was obvious. I felt this wine was just entering the “dumb phase” ie going from the up front fruit phase to the developed phase – so I would like to try this again in about a years time.
2009 “The Dear Nellie” Unwooded Semillon ($A15)
Straight away I knew this wine was going to be my favorite white wine here. There is an abundance of lemon aromas and flavors with a wonderful tangy acid and lemon/lime zest finish. Uncomplicated and yet complex and just made to eat with fresh seafood – you know the big plate of cooked but not peeled prawns and bugs with lots of seafood sauce and big bowls of lemon water (to wash your hands). Very messy but bring it on!
2004 “The Dear Nellie” Chardonnay ($A12)
A 2004 Chardonnay??? Is this here because they cannot sell the wine? Questions I posed to myself – but after trying the wine, who cares. The wine was surprisingly fresh and the portion of wooded material (this wine is the last of their wooded whites) set the wine well. The cedar tones of the oak combined with melons and citrus peel on the nose and the flavors followed with the oaky citrus mouthfeel working well. The wine’s freshness combined with the richness of the oak treatment means that it would work well with Bruschette.
2005 “The Dear Nellie” Chardonnay ($A12)
I have always thought that Chardonnay needs some oak treatment to get the best from the variety. This wine just strengthened this long held view. The wine had closed aromas and the flavors showed the expected melon characters – but while I was drinking it I could not help but feel there was something missing.
2006 “The Monarch” Merlot ($A22)
The founder of the family vineyard, Edmund Major Wilson, was a butterfly collector – so the name of this wine is dedicated to the founding father’s hobby of collecting Monarch Butterflies. The wine is true to variety with plums and cherries, with a slightly bitter finish. Unfortunately, this wine did not improve my view of straight Australian Merlots – just not for me.
2005 “The Slab Hut” Merlot Cabernet Shiraz ($A22)
While the main cottage was being built James Wilson lived in a simple Red Gum Sleeper Hut – that is still on the property today. The wine is 60% Merlot, 30% Shiraz and 10% Cabernet. Again, like the straight Merlot, this wine was not for me.
2005 “The Black Hammer” Cabernet Sauvignon ($A22)
The name comes from that James Wilson was a partner in the local blacksmith. Back on track with this wine with the black fruit aromas and flavors one expects from Cabernet. The fruit characters are reminiscent of a dark fruit cake. There is not a lot of oak flavors so definitely no oak monster on the palate here, however there is a good acid length here. I am thinking red current glazed lamb loin chops would work well with the fruitiness of this wine.
2005 “The Stubborn Patriarch” Shiraz ($A25)
Scottish Captain Andrew Wilson was “dismissed” when he refused to call out “God Save the Queen” when captured the British. This wine is made in reference to this ancestor’s stubborn nature. I found the aromas quite closed with the flavors kicking in nicely. The mouth is full of plums, raisins and black fruits. The oak is well integrated and the palate finishes with soft tannins. Hard to go past a steak going well with this wine.
2005 Edmund Major Reserve Shiraz ($A65)
2 rows of 100 year old vines, producing at a quarter of a tonne per acre. The wine is let sit in new french oak for 2 years to get enough character to off set the concentrated fruit from the old vines. The nose is just oh so concentrated fruit with the cedary tones of the oak. The flavors are just complex layers of plums, black fruits, oak with plenty of acid length. This is a wine to savor in another 8 to 10 years with a meal if Beef Wellington. The complexity and texture of the pate in the dish would go well with the layered complexity of the wine.
2008 Ratifia ($A22 350 mL bottle)
This different wine sparked my interest – a wine made from Riesling pressings and before fermentation is completed neutral grape spirit is added to achieve 16% alcohol. The product has an unusual tropical aromas with lifted fruit flavors (apricots and peaches). There is some bitterness of the alcohol here but it is almost masked by the sweetness (which is not cloying). I can imagine this wine being popular at their wine food & music evenings.
2006 “The Man About Town” Fortified White ($15)
To start a fortified wine can be a long journey, to get the old complex wines, so here is a method to sell some young wine while starting down the path of the classic tawny styles. On this basis they only draw off enough wine to bottle a few dozen at a time when needed. The aromas and flavors are reminiscent of butterscotch and caramel and as expected the overall mouth fell and viscosity are lighter than the classical tawny style. Some nice aged cheddar cheese and share this wine with a few friends would be good. I would like to see the offerings in about another 5 years to see how the fortified wine blending goes.