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Colourful Yarns Behind Classic Labels

December 16, 2017 Beverage No Comments Email Email

THERE’S many a colourful story around the founding and success of so many Australian wine companies, one such being McLaren Vale’s acclaimed d’Arenberg Wines whose founder, a Mr Joseph Osborn was a teetotaller who sold a stable of prize-winning horses to buy the property in 1912 that now houses the d’Arenberg winery, cellar door and restaurant.

And although a teetotaller he was also a director of wine company Thomas Hardy and Sons, so knew plenty about the industry and with son Frank bought several vineyards around their property. On his death in 1921 young Frank took control, initially selling their grapes to other wineries before building the family winery in 1927.

When he too fell ill in the early 1940s his son Francis (generally known as d’Arry) left school at 16 years of age to help his father, taking full control on his father’s death in 1957, and creating the d’Arenberg label after his mother’s maiden name.

D’Arry’s son Chester joined-up in 1984, cementing d’Arenberg’s place firmly on the Australian wine map, and now as Chief Winemaker creates some sixty wines annually from 25 grape varieties. One current outstanding drop is a 2017 “The Money Spider” Roussanne that has marvellous flavours spanning green mango, papaya and pickled ginger, and at $20 is great value to enjoy with shellfish, pork or veal dishes.

THIS one began with a small vineyard intended to simply keep its owner busy in semi-retirement.

ACCLAIMED label had its beginnings back in 1912 at the hands of a teetotaller.

ONE TO NOTE: WHEN Nik and Deonne Samodol bought 32 hectares (around 80 acres) of a once-sprawling 810ha (2000 acre) grazing property on the slopes of Mount Canobolas at Orange in NSW’s Central West, they planted eight hectares of vineyards with the intention of keeping Nik busy hand-tending in his semi-retirement.

But with both site and climate being “just right” for a trio of grape varieties (Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Nebbiolo) and the backing of consultant viticulturist, Tim Esson, the Samodol’s found the Rowlee Vineyard fruit they were selling was being made by others into multi-award winning wines.

And so Nik and Deonne and their daughter Nicole, and Tim Esson and his family teamed-up in 2013 to create Rowlee Wines, and to make their own vinos with guidance and backing from “mentor  winemaker,” PJ Charteris. Their 2016 Rowlee Chardonnay is a stunner, with a vineyard load of stone fruit and citrus flavours and a creamy texture that makes it a perfect match with a summer’s chicken salad, or veal chops barbecued and topped with creamy mushrooms.

Order online at $40 through

Written by David Ellis

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