I’m often asked my thoughts on what makes a great wine ‘great’.  Reflecting, I think back to the rowdy discussions at university and the many boozy winemakers’ dinners since. Taking part in these tastings is always fun and in time you learn to filter the namedropping, personal preferences, and general bluff to formulate an idea of quality. I realised that in winemaking, to elevate a wine in quality to ‘iconic’ status is very esoteric just as it is in film or literature. For me, the challenge of recognising, enjoying (and sometimes making) a truly great wine is a result of nailing just the right combination of “Art versus Science”. It is what attracted me 25 years ago to study and become a winemaker in the first place. I think it was perfectly explained by Robert Mondavi when he said, “Making good wine is a skill, making fine wine is an art”.

So how is it done? Firstly, we should all agree that growing beautiful grapes is the start of the journey. That relies on a great vineyard site and fluking a top vintage. Growers must know how the soil and climate will affect the fruit and how to manipulate the vines in varying conditions. Plant physiology, entomology, microbiology, and chemistry are the sciences and an integral part of making an iconic wine. And the art?? That is the personal signature of the winemaker. And each winemaker has their own idea of what they want reflected in the glass through their choices of oak, yeast, and fermentation technique. Finally, we cannot ignore that indescribable x-factor that makes a top wine. Magic.

With that said, we are presenting you a special offer on our ‘1827’ range of red wines. I re-tasted both the 2015 Bunnamagoo ‘1827’ Cabernet Sauvignon and the 2016 Bunnamagoo ‘1827’ Shiraz for this article. These wines are the top-tier of our range. Flavour, balance, extract and style are the criteria to assess. The Shiraz remains bright violet red with no sign of development. Aromas of cherry, blackberry and dark chocolate fill the glass. The tannins are very fine and give the palate persistence. The deep red Cabernet Sauvignon retains varietal detail with blackcurrant, mocha and classic earthy Mudgee character. Rich but soft vanillin oak adds to the gentle finish. Both wines maturing in typical unhurried Mudgee fashion.

So, while the popular cult wines may be terrific for your cellar, also seek out perhaps lesser known, iconic wines of a region, and drink them! They tell a pure story, being emblematic of the winemakers and their vineyards. Otherwise you might be missing out!


by Winemaker Rob Black