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McWilliams Winemaker Jim Chatto … has delivered medium-bodied wines which have been made to accompany food.

July 15, 2017 Beverage No Comments Email Email

You’d have to be a fairly contrary soul to argue these days against the importance of the role played by climate and aspect on the quality of wine. It’s something covered generally by the French term ‘terroir’, which also includes things such as soil and vineyard layout.

A major part of ‘terroir’ is a vineyard’s altitude, something that’s closely related to climate and hence to how a wine tastes.

It’s why the best of Queensland’s wines generally come from the Granite Belt, high up in the Great Dividing Range, to the south-west of Brisbane, where vineyard altitudes generally run between about 700 and 1000 metres.

But we’re staying south of the border today, where McWilliams has just launched its new McW 480 and McW 660 Reserve ranges, with labels proudly displaying the contours of topographic maps and the numbers referring to elevation above sea level.

The McW 480 range is priced at about $20 and comprises a Hilltops Shiraz alongside a Sauvignon Blanc and a Pinot Noir from Tumbarumba.

The McW 660 Reserve range takes it up a bit in price to about $25 and quite significantly in altitude, to vineyards averaging some 660 metres elevation.

Here we get a Chardonnay and a Pinot Noir from Tumbarumba, a Cabernet Sauvignon and a Shiraz from Hilltops, and a Syrah from near Canberra.

Shiraz and syrah are made from the same grape variety, with the latter generally being more savoury and European in style, the former being bolder and brasher, in the style of the big Barossa reds Australians have grown quite accustomed to.

I’ve tasted a few of the Reserve wines and think that they offer plenty of distinctively cool-climate flavour and represent excellent value for money.

Winemaker Jim Chatto has delivered medium-bodied wines which have been made to accompany food — and do so very nicely, thank you very much. Visit


McWilliams 2016 McW 660 Reserve Tumbarumba Chardonnay ($25): An elegant cool-climate dry white that resides very much in the nectarine fruit spectrum, with a layer of complexing but unobtrusive oak. It’s a wine that will match quite richly flavoured dishes. Think grilled salmon or roast chicken.

McWilliams 2015 McW 660 Reserve Hilltops Cabernet Sauvignon ($25): You can taste here exactly why cabernet is a district hero — an amalgam of blackberries, cassis and chocolate, with plenty of firm tannins. I’m not one to discourage adventurous rood-wine pairing, but for me cabernet will always be about lamb.


Pig in the House 2016 Organic Chardonnay ($25): The vines that this comes from is the closest to Windowrie vineyard manager Jason O’Dea’s house near Canowindra so he turned them organic to avoid any nasties entering his family’s life. It’s what I’d describe as a really ‘solid’ dry white, with fruit and oak in good balance. I like it, especially with richly white-sauced pasta.

Written by John Rozentals

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