Padthaway Shiraz

The Limestone Coast lies about halfway between Melbourne and Adelaide, and its agricultural regions have been diligently diversifying their traditional farming of cereals, pasture seed, vegetables and livestock grazing. As of the 1960s, they’ve also embraced the stepped challenges/rewards of grape growing and winemaking — so much so that they now produce 20% of South Australia’s total. Spanning five family generations, over a 165-year history, the Bryson farming clan has made a significant contribution to the shift, having invested the last 50 yrs. in refining the cultivation of premium-grade, red and white wine varieties, on their own Phylloxera-free rootstock. Clearly, all the vineyard management details matter to the dedicated trio of Bryson brothers; they’re also at ease with the sentiment that what ends up in the bottle is serious fun!

Padthaway is an emerging, less-renowned member of the six sub-regions lying within the Limestone Coast boundary; directly competing with the established international profile of neighbouring Coonawarra: rightfully and highly regarded for the qualities of its benchmark bottlings of Shiraz. The Potawurutj Aborigines coined Padthaway’s name (‘good water’), referencing the underground aquifer system and the abundant surface supply. When the forbearers of the Bryson’s and other Europeans arrived in Padthaway during the 1850’s, the bio-diverse landscape (ancient seabed) was still extensively covered by shallow freshwater and so became known as ‘Mosquito Plains’.

Among many desirable attributes at work in this terroir, including sun-drenched exposures in daytime offset by the cool coastal breezes at night are the prized Terra Rosa soils. Often associated with the Mediterranean basin generally, and Italy in particular, this composition of ancient weathered limestone results from the residual clay and non-soluble rock becoming oxidized (rusting); yielding the characteristic reddish colour; imbuing the soil with essential minerals and good drainage for the vine’s root system. Punctuating 190 hectares on the Bryson Estate are outcrops and clusters of unusual, bulbous granite rock formations; providing an evocative namesake and brand graphic for their baseline range of wines: the Jip Jip Rocks.

This week’s DéClassé featured varietal bottling of Shiraz was finished by blending batches from the 2013 vintage, after spending a year in a combination of new and used, American and French oak barrels. With another 15 months in the bottle, it’s ready to go now, though it will develop even more balance if left on your storage rack for several more years. If you like your dry reds on the plush side, with some youthful fruitiness and acidic vibrancy still at the forefront, then you should rush to the LCBO’s Vintages section ahead of the anticipated crowd — and buy a bunch!

Jip Jip Rocks

VINTAGES/LCBO – Product #673897 | 750 mL bottle
Price $16.95
14.5% Alcohol/Vol.
Sugar Content Descriptor: XD

Made in South Australia, Australia
By: Bryson Family
Release Date: Feb 20, 2016

Tasting Note
Along with the dominant currant and earthy cherry notes, this fulsome red also incorporates subtle flavours of mocha and clove. Lightly spicy on the nose, the oak influence is deftly incorporated into the wine’s supple body. Try serving with marinated flank steak, smoked ham hock, hearty stews or mature cheeses.

Naoussa Xinomavro

From antiquity through to the modern age, the often hotly debated cultural and territorial legacy of Macedonia has produced a wealth of opposing contentions. The uncertainty about its people’s place within or aside from the Greek patchwork is, in some part, fueled by the generalized fame of Macedonia’s best-known son, Alexander the Great. Tutored by Aristotle and steeped in Homer’s mythic tales, he could proficiently read, speak and conduct himself as a Greek: as a complementary culture to his native Macedonian and its Slav heritage. Under his leadership, the vast expansion of the so-called Greek Empire would eventually dominate the Balkans, Asia Minor, Central Asia, Mesopotamia, Persia and Egypt. Ironically for Greeks, the rise to this unrivalled supremacy in the ancient world began with Alexander’s military campaign to subjugate rebellious city-states in Greece’s homelands. In the wash of history, Alexander has become viewed as archetypal Greek, and the former realm of the Macedonian Kingdom
has been partitioned among neighbouring territories in the Balkans and Bulgaria. The portion that remains within the present-day boundaries of northern Greece contains some of the region’s most prized vineyards; unique cool climate terroirs, and specialized cultivation of one indigenous variety for the last 1,500 years!

The sub-region of Naoussa, along with its surprising geography of snowcapped mountains, framing the forested foothills that spill onto a verdant central plain, now also has an official VQPRD wine zone designation. The acronym’s aim is to promote the highest quality standards for Greek wines and mark their distinct origins within the country. Mainly due to the leadership efforts of the dynamic Boutari vineyard group, developing this classification and its requirements are propelling Greece’s re-anointment as a reliable source of premium winemaking.

As an example, this week’s DéClassé featured Naoussa 2013 is a polished version of varietal Xinomavro wine; currently, the best-selling, ambassador wine style for Greece’s worldwide export. As of 1879, 137-years of accumulated expertise by this storied vintner has culminated in the enviable burden of being a benchmark for how well that modern Greek winemakers are doing overall. Year in and out, they substantiate their global reputation by consistently producing well-crafted wines across a range of grades. The 2013 vintage of this entry-level offering is no exception to the rule; it shows unsurpassable quality at a $13.95 price-point!

Approx. 100km from Thessaloniki, this particular estate is both the oldest and original one of the six regional appellations that Boutari has land holdings in. Among the region’s nine villages that include the region’s namesake: Naoussa, vineyards are located on the sunny, southeast-facing slopes surrounding Mount Vermio. Irrigated by runoff, these calcium-rich clay and loam soils provide the perfect conditions for Xinomavro grape growing. Despite being a prolific variety that’s thrived here for eternity, the grape has frequently fallen in and out of commercial favour. Under the stewardship by Boutari, this variety is resurgent and demonstrating its desirability for producing satisfying medium-bodied wine with the potential to age and develop complexity. Rightly compared to Italy’s
Nebbiolo-based wines such as Barbaresco and Barolo, it shares many of the basic attributes such as ample acidity levels married with firm tannins.

This vintage is a charmingly youthful bottling that can be had inexpensively and then reward 3-5yrs. of cellaring by becoming even smoother and more rounded. Buy at least 3. Decant one for several hours to enjoy now and stow the others away to grace a sumptuous winter’s meal later on in 2021. Or, in exercising some admirable discipline, wait even a bit later for the magic to happen!


VINTAGES – LCBO Product #23218 | 750 mL bottle
Price $ 13.95
13.5% Alcohol/Vol.
Sugar Content Descriptor: XD

Made in: Naoussa, Greece
By: Jean Boutari & Fils S.A.
Release Date: February 6, 2016

Tasting Note
This distinctive red wine has flavours of cherries, raspberry with hints of vanilla and cocoa. Fairly typical of Naoussa style wines, it’s pleasingly tart and earthy in a balanced combination. Try serving as apéritif with hard cheeses or with mains of grilled kabobs, hearty casseroles, and porcini risotto.

Niederösterreich Grüner Veltliner

20 centuries ago, in one of the newly conquered lands bounded by the Danube River, the legendary Roman military commander Tiberius capably recognized the untapped agricultural potential of its valleys and plains. After having subdued the Celtic and Ligurian tribes who were loosely allied in the kingdom of Noricum, he set about establishing a legionary encampment that would grow into a large and prosperous regional capital, Carnuntum. Apart from mining the ore-rich mountains for iron, which provided high-grade steel weaponry to the empire; the settlements other success was in developing farming estates in the nearby territories, eventually including Kamptal (Kamp River Valley). To fulfill a Roman social philosophy that deemed wine a daily necessity for all classes of society, from slave through noble, these ‘provincial Romans’ introduced terraced vineyards as an agricultural innovation. The technology allowed growers to exploit the underused sloped terrain; expanding the cultivation of indigenous grapes such as the one they termed Veltin; resulting in a significant boost of harvest yields and the local wine supply. In the modern age, this corner of central Europe became known as Niederösterreich (Lower Austria) and one of the distinctive wines that Austrian vintners have become uniquely expert at is called Grüner Veltliner.

Primarily grown in Austria, Grüner Veltliner (Grew-ner Velt-leen-er) is a flagship white wine variety making up nearly a third of all plantings–with spillover into the neighbouring Czech Republic, Hungary and Slovakia. As a hardy and prolific vine, its suitability to these terroirs is tied to the rich löss (wind-blown soils) that have built up in the geography of ancient volcanic calderas; settling overtop of crushed stone beds that provide drainage for mildew-free growing conditions. As of 2009, Austria’s wine laws have evolved to include DAC designations for both Veltliner and Riesling wines; to clearly distinguish between the regional sources of the fruit and to promote higher mean levels of quality. Additionally, the bottling is graded and priced according to either a ‘Classic’ finishing style (12.5% abv with no wood influence) or ‘Reserve’ (13.5% with some integrated wood allowable). As with this week’s DéClassé recommended Rabl Grüner Veltliner Langenlois 2013, the ‘Classic’ version is somewhat lighter-bodied, unoaked and largely intended to be enjoyed as a fresh, zingy young wine that blooms with food pairing–and so it does!


70km northwest from Vienna, the Kamptal DAC is centred on the Baroque-esc town of Langenlois. Surrounded by forested mountains and ringed by vineyards, this idyllic setting has been home to Weingut Rudolph Rabl for 265 years. In the mid-18th century, 20 hectares of estate land began as a traditional farm with mixed crops and livestock. After adding grapevines, the business was confined to selling bulk wine in barrel to local innkeepers until the early 20th century. In 1986, Rudolf Rabl Junior was enlisted into the family business and his father’s passion, which allowed the winery to expand to 80 hectares; becoming one of the largest estates in the valley. The distinctive icon of a green Raven depicted on Rabl (‘little Raven’) labels represents their line of well-crafted, entry-level wines being offered at an exceptionally attractive price-point.

All in all, it’s taken some time for North American markets to embrace white wine styles other than the enduring stars such as Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio and Soave. So, in the spirit of more deeply exploring the horizon of your established tastes, add this varietal wine to your DéClassé recommended list of alternate, characterful dry whites: Sylvaner, Picpoul de Pinet, Tsinandali, Gavi, Pecorino, Sèvre et Maine, and Vinho Verde. Consider buying half a case while being reminded that Grüner Veltliner offers the promise of longevity in the bottle: making it a worthy candidate for some short-term cellaring over the next 2-5yrs.

Rabl Gruner Veltliner

VINTAGES – LCBO Product #377457 | 750 mL bottle
Price $ 14.95
12.5% Alcohol/Vol.
Sugar Content Descriptor: XD

Made in: Kamptal, Austria
By: Weingut Rudolph Rabl
Release Date: January 23, 2016

Tasting Note
This is a bright, fresh and elegant wine with flavour notes of apple, lemon balm and lime, delicate pepper spice, loads of ripe acidity and an intriguing minerality through the remarkably long finish. As apéritif, serve with prosciutto crostini, smoked fish, or with mains of veal schnitzel, grilled asparagus, and white sauced artichoke.