‘All other creatures look down toward the earth, but man was given a face so that he might turn his eyes towards the stars and gaze upon the sky’. I could not help but ponder this thought (Ovid’s) when tasting the new releases of Koomilya. The ambition to express the truth and mystery of a vineyard, a culture, a place and bestow the gift of sensual pleasure had me gazing upwards. If Hill of Grace and Wendouree are the fountainhead of this tradition then Koomilya is the flood that follows. And not to put too fine a point on it, Koomilya is every bit an equal to these wines. The price to quality ratio is ridiculous and savages the idolatry afforded to revered benchmarks. When Australia’s most famous wines are retailing for over $800 many a wine drinker’s shoulders may drop at the prospect. Who cares, you now have Koomilya.
As luck would have it Steve Pannell bought this vineyard after becoming acquainted with it during his days as chief winemaker for Hardys. He even won a Jimmy Watson with a wine made from this vineyard and, loving the results, determined to purchase it. There are 30 acres of vineyards on the property – 3 blocks of Shiraz and a single block of Cabernet. The oldest Shiraz vines are 80 years old and the Cabernet, 70 years old.
The vineyards are surrounded by native bushland, cooling the vines and moderating extremes in temperature. The wines to be sure are classics of McLaren Vale, with abundant supple fruit and hints of spice and chocolate. The wines are fresh, utterly drinkable and with tannins that begin thread-like and tighten with length.
Koomilya 2015 McLaren Vale Shiraz – The fruit here is so pristine and pure, rich and fresh. Red and black fruits, spice, olives, smoke and chocolate. The palate is full bodied with the finest longest tannins you could possibly hope for. Made from the three Koomilya Shiraz blocks, the vines being planted in the 1990’s and early 2000’s. Proof, as far as I’m concerned, that it’s not all about the old vines. Handpicked, destemmed and wild fermented in open top fermenters before being pressed. The hard press wine is then separated and transferred to stainless steel for 28 days. The wine is then racked and transferred to 2500 litre French vats for malolactic fermentation and 12 months of maturation.
Koomilya 2015 McLaren Vale Cabernet Shiraz – 80% Cabernet from 70 year old vines and 20% Shiraz. Made with the same methods as the straight Shiraz, this blend in Steve’s hands could be Australia’s emblematic red wine style. The word pristine comes to mind, with a wealth of blackcurrant, blackberry and cherries. Spice is there too and the palate is so abundant with flavour, utterly drinkable and with those signature threads of tannin. A wine to grace an Aussie backyard or a Pall Mall club. Claret with balls.
Koomilya DC Block 2015 McLaren Shiraz – Made from a single block from vines aged at 80 years. The biggest wine of the four, but not heavy. Black, blue and hints of red fruits sweep across the palate. Vital, fresh, rich, complex, full of energy, a bodice of tannins and all the magisterial presence of a Chateau Latour. The grapes are handpicked, wild fermented and spent 10 days on skins. Pressed off into stainless steel, the hard press wine is removed and left to settle until early May. The wine was then moved to puncheons where it underwent malolactic fermentation and maturation, spending 14 months in oak.
Koomilya JC Block 2015 Mclaren Shiraz – A single Block of Shiraz vines of 80 years. Made in the same way as the DC, the wine however is quite different. Plush fruit here with real volume and sensuality, the bodice of tannin loosened. A sleek, subtle and silken power.