Wine from my Family to Yours this Holiday Season
With the holiday season just around the corner, I have been reflecting on what it means to finally be home for the holidays. As some of you might know, I just returned to Australia in July after spending 20 years away from home. It was a great ride, and by working for some global wine companies, I got to craft wines in most of the world’s famous wine regions, but I couldn’t be happier to be back in my home country, about to celebrate my first Christmas in Australia with my wife and kids.
Returning to my roots in Australia, growing my own grapes, and making my own A.T. Richardson wines in Victoria’s historic Grampians wine region is the culmination of a lifelong dream for me. There is nothing more satisfying than waking up every morning to the magpies warbling, enjoying breakfast with my family, and then working outside, tending the vines, or heading down to the winery shed to check my barrels or work on blends. Most evenings, Eva and I sit outside with a glass of Chockstone Rosé and watch the sun set over our vineyard.
These simple moments define our life, and it’s moments like these that go into each bottle of my wine. As my family and I celebrate being home for the holidays this year, I am excited to share these moments, and my wines with you.
Award-Winning Wines and More to Come
I am gratified that James Halliday handpicked two of my wines for his prestigious Top 100 Wines of 2016: my 2014 Chockstone Shiraz and my 2016 Chockstone Riesling. Halliday gave my 2014 Chockstone Shiraz 97 points (the highest rated red wine under $25), and he gave my Riesling 94 points. Having my wines in Halliday’s Top 100 list gives me another excuse to share my passion for the cool-climate wines from our vineyard in Great Western as well as the broader Grampians region.
These accolades underscore the power of low-intervention winemaking, which allows the vineyard character to show through in the final wines. When you taste these wines, you get a true taste of the region.
Unfortunately, we sold out of the 2014 Chockstone Shiraz. However, we still have some of the 2016 Chockstone Riesling. You can order the 2016 Riesling from our website, and you can also pre-order the 2015 Chockstone Shiraz, which we will release in January.
A Rosé for the New Year
If you also enjoy sitting on the front verandah on warm summer evenings, I highly recommend doing so with a glass of 2016 Chockstone Rose, which is also a great wine to toast the New Year.
We released a small volume of the 2016 Rose in October for limited markets in Sydney, Melbourne, and Queensland, but we have held back a handful of cases for our newsletter readers. Order yours now.
In honor of our return to Australia, here are some local treasures I have discovered right here in the Grampians region.
Food: Nestled in the heart of the Grampians, Harvest Halls Gap is a great little café and provedore featuring a handful of local producers. Stop by for some wine, cheese, olives, or stay for a meal and a latte. My favorite: smashed peas and poached eggs. If you’re in Halls Gap over the holidays, you can also pick up a Grampians “wine trail” map to check out local vineyards, and on Saturdays and Sundays this summer you can visit to meet local producers and winemakers at Harvest.
Book: Devoted customers who have read the Chockstone wine labels already know that one of my other great passions is rock climbing. In fact, I chose to establish my vineyard here in the Grampians because it’s not only a great wine region, it’s a world-class climbing area. For some great beta, check out Neil Monteith and Simon Carter’s Grampians Climbing guide.
Wine: On Grand Final Day, I celebrated the Bulldogs’ win with a Seppelts 2004 Show Reserve Sparkling Shiraz. I was lucky to secure a half dozen of this benchmark sparkling a couple of years ago, and it’s looking spectacular.
Music: Summer is festival season, and my family and I are looking forward to the Grampians Music Festival February 24-26.
We appreciate our customers at A.T. Richardson Wines, and we want to thank you for sharing our wines this year. We hope you have a chance to toast the holidays with some memorable wine this season!
Adam and Eva
Getting to the end of our pruning season, we realize it’s been a while since we published a newsletter, and all of a sudden we have three new vintages of our Chockstone blends to release. Read on to find out about them, and to hear about our long-awaited move back to the Hard Hill Road vineyard from America.
What’s not to love about pruning?
Yes, indeed! A day spent in our beautiful Grampians vineyard snipping away along rows of vines, although not quite relaxing, is a wonderful meditative process. It’s all good, assuming you don’t mind putting on the waterproofs and getting out no matter what the weather.
In fact, it is a tremendously satisfying time for a winemaker to set up the vines for the next season’s harvest, and there is plenty of time to let the mind wander to winemaking plans for next vintage.
New vintages for three Chockstone wines
Yes, it’s been a few months since our last newsletter and our last vinatges were all quite small bottling runs following small harvests. This means that three new Chockstone vintages have been released this month. The 2016 Chockstone Riesling is a cracker! It’s one of the most vivacious and obviously minerally vintages since we started making it in 2007. The 2015 Chockstone Chardonnay shows a touch more fruit than last vintage, but still retains its toasty, flinty restraint. Another small vintage this year, with just shy of 200 dozen bottled.
And after a small 2013 Shiraz vintage, the release of the 2014 Chockstone Shiraz comes just five months after the 2013 Chockstone was released. We are hoping the 2014 lasts a bit longer, but it’s a rich and complex wine that is showing wonderful depth and complexity already, with many good things yet to come as it unwinds in bottle.
A big move to the Hard Hill Road Vineyard
Many of you may not know it, but for most of the last decade we have been making wines and growing our grapes from afar. We have been working closely with our neighbours to help us grow our grapes and make our wines each year.
Adam spent many hours on a plane flying between our previous home in the USA and our Hard Hill Road vineyard a number of times every year. But now those backwards-and-forwards have finally come to an end. At the end of June, we moved all four humans and one dog (ironically enough, an 18-month-old ‘American’ Australian cattle dog named Daisy) from America back to our Hard Hill Road property.
Looking back now that we are comfortably moved into the vineyard house, where Adam commutes 50 metres every day to the winery, the kids are finally in a country Australian school, and Eva is settling into her vineyard lifestyle, it’s a wonder it took us so long!
But this is just part of our bigger interesting story, and now that we are fully re-established at Hard Hill Road, we are going to focus more on our social media and storytelling, so watch this space for our blogs, Instagram, and Twitter feeds.
Two Best-of-Class and a Wine-of-the-Week
It came early, finished early and what a vintage!
Read on to find out about our 95 and 96 point ratings in the 2015 Halliday Australian Wine Companion, and a reminder to order your 2014 A.T. Richardson Chockstone Riesling before it runs out. And check out our updated website.
96 Points for Some Hand-Built Wines
You can see its a family affair at our Hard Hill Road winery; our daughter Madeleine testing the progress of the 2015 Hard Hill Road Durif fermentation.
As many of you may already know, Adam’s winemaking philosophy focusses on a gentle hands-on approach; letting the grapes and wine find their own rythym, rather than forcing them along a production path. As a result, our wines turn out subtly complex and full of their own personality.
And, its great to see that one of Australias most revered wine critics agrees, highly regarding our current release wines and expounding their value for money.
James Halliday awarded 96 points to our 2013 Hard Hill Road Shiraz and 95 points to the 2013 Chockstone Shiraz. Both these wines are due for release in the coming months. Our 2014 Chockstone Riesling also received 95 points – not bad for a wine that sells for $20.
Your Last Chance to Secure the 2014 Chockstone Riesling
Another tough vintage in the vineyard for Riesling yielded a dense and focused 2014 Chockstone Riesling. We didn’t make much of it and the fact that Halliday talked up its great value has certainly quickened sales.
Adam’s Recent Cool Discoveries
Music: More retro stuff here (and another now-dead artist), Ive been listening to Cannonball Adderley’s, Phenix. His jazz sax has a cool and, I think, unique sound.
Wine: Tight and zippy, with funky earthy notes – I tried an Ottosoldi Gavi from Piedmont last week. It was a smart accompaniment to some goat cheese anchovy toast appetizers.
Food: A pretty simple one this month; Strawberries and cream birthday cake, paired surprisingly nicely with a Prosecco sparkler.
Book: Alan Turing:The Enigma, by Andrew Hodges. The story of the man who broke the Nazi radio codes in WW2, significantly contributing to the winning of the war. At times felt like I was reading a mathematics text but it was an intriguing insight into a strange man and stranger times in English history.
Reviews of our Latest Releases
Read on to find our what James Halliday thought of our latest releases in his 2016 Australian Wine Companion.
A.T. Richardson Chockstone Grampians Riesling 2014
Drink by: 2030
As ever, has an extra layer – indeed layers – of lime juice fruit, balance coming easily and quickly with the crunchy, minerally acidity. Riesling abounds with bargains, but this is close to the head of the queue, ready to go.
A.T. Richardson Chockstone Grampians Shiraz 2013
Drink by: 2038
Deeply coloured; a classic medium- to full-bodied Grampians shiraz; the fruit is all black, no red, purple or blue get a look in, just touches of anise and licorice; the complexity derives from the singular texture of the wine, grainy and cedary, but in no way bitter or angular.
A.T. Richardson Hard Hill Road Great Western Shiraz 2013
Drink by: 2033
When tasting Chockstone Shiraz you wonder what Hard Hill Road could possibly bring to the table that isn’t already there; the answer is the unexpected elegance, and the glimmer of red fruit of this wine; the tannins are fine and silky, the medium-bodied palate very long, new French oak lurking in the background.
A.T. Richardson Hard Hill Road Grt Western Durif 2013
Drink by: 2023
Has a bright rim to the moderately deep colour; a strange region for durif to bob up in, presumably estate-grown; all things are relative, and in that context, this is an elegant wine, with great light and shade through the open weave texture to its back fruits and savoury tannins.