If there’s one thing the pandemic has taught us, it’s that life’s little luxuries can be experienced at any time, on your own terms, and whatever your budget.
Maybe we haven’t quite needed to trot out our best designer wear for a cosy dinner at home with the family (and two friends who could come over), or bothered with piling on new jewellery pieces for that Zoom meeting. But since I’ve been spending more time at home, I’ve found myself reaching for better organic produce at the supermarket, dressing the dinner table with fresh flowers more regularly, laying out the crystal glasses for a good steak dinner at home, even throwing out year-old pots and pans for better quality Le Crueset cast-iron ones which I feel happier cooking with.
Recently, I’ve also discovered some decent wines from Wynns Coonawarra’s new vintage releases. I’m no wine snob or connoisseur, but like many casual drinkers, I do cringe at too-sharp, poorly balanced wines that I would even hesitate to cook with. So to discover these very drinkable Australian wines which I found at Cold Storage (they can also be found on Lazada) was something of a mild thrill.
When the opportunity came to speak with Sue Hodder, Senior Winemaker at Wynns, I couldn’t pass it up. Together with her colleague and fellow winemaker Sarah Pidgeon, Sue was named “Winemaker of the Year” in 2016, and 2020 marks her 28th vintage at Wynns.
Through a Zoom tasting session with Singapore media, which was paired with a delightful three-course lunch prepared by Chef Lennard Yeong, Sue shared her notes on the following reds from their 2018 and 2019 vintages: Black Label Old Vine Shiraz 2019, Black Label Cabernet Sauvignon 2019, Michael Shiraz 18 and John Riddoch 2018.
“We would describe these reds as being ‘medium-bodied’. These vintages have moderate alcohol of between 13% to 15%,” she elaborated.
“Coonawarra is located on the Limestone Coast of South Australia, known for its harvests of lobsters, crayfish and abalone,” she continued. “The area is also home to many cherry and apple plantations, and you can see this having an influence on the vines we grow as well.
“Some of our wines are made from vines planted in the 1920s, so they’re effectively 100-year-old vines by now. As for our Black Label wines, these are from vines that are at least 30 years old. They are suitable for cellaring as well as drinking now. In fact, our Black Label Old Vine Shiraz 2019 can be carefully cellared until 2035.”
We tasted the 2019 vintages with a laksa-infused seafood dish. “The structure of these red wines lends itself well to pairing with spicy food and seafood,” Sue said. The 2018 wines, on the other hand, were paired with a fresh and crunchy lettuce-wrapped shredded-chicken dish with a ginger scallion dressing. “Our John Riddoch 2018 is suited more for dishes cooked at lower temperature – for example, steamed or poached. Its flavours work better with caramelised and not so much barbequed meats.”
The John Riddoch can be cellared for a little over 10 years; as a reference to the inaugural release, the 1982 vintage is still drinking beautifully. But why wait, if you can enjoy it now?