“Pat Carmody, the most humble winemaker I’ve ever met'.” Max Allen, The Future Makers
Last week we showcased a new wave, full bodied, intense Barossa Shiraz, and here we are with an iconic, single minded, unique, cool-climate and svelte Victorian Shiraz. Together they are two important tales of Australian wines. Climate, winemaking, history and evolution. This week it is Craiglee Vineyard, Pat and Dianne Carmody’s gift to Australian wine lovers, if not the worlds. This small slice of humble dirt in Sunbury was first planted to Shiraz in 1865, with a four-level bluestone, gravity fed winery on site built a few years later. Vines flourished here and the wines proved fine, elegant and age worthy. However, in the post war period of the 1940’s, sheep farming was more lucrative than vine growing, and the vines were pulled up.
Fast forward to the mid 1970’s and move in the young, ag-science graduate Pat Carmody whose family were sheep farmers in Victoria’s north. Pat was farming the land, and in a stroke of good fortune, a bit of agricultural nous and a chance encounter with one of the senior Brown family members, Pat decided to replant the site to Shiraz, as it was over 100 years earlier. He also planted Chardonnay, which was unfashionable at the time, but had just been planted commercially for the first time in Australia, in the Hunter.
The rest, as they say, is history. Melbourne’s urban sprawl has enveloped the land around Craiglee but the vineyard, the winery and Pat and Dianne have remained the same. This cool vineyard produces medium bodied, elegant, red fruited, spicy and herbal Shiraz. It is uniquely Australian though it has nuance, structure and ageworthiness that is more commonly associated with the great wines of France. It is truly a treasure and is the cornerstone of many a great cellar in Australia.
The 2016 is a delicious version from a warmer vintage. Being such a cold and late ripening site, Criaglee excels in these warmer vintages. It is sure to age 20+ years. We hope you enjoy it.
For those interested in some extra reading, there is a great article here from Jancis Robinson’s recent visit to the winery here. She sums it better than any. https://www.jancisrobinson.com/articles/craiglee-australia-does-terroir-restraint-and-longevity
Tom and Dan