The local supermarket, one of the two major chains in town, has a bottle shop (liquor store) attached. They generally sell run of the mill wines with a few specialties so it’s not the place I usually go looking for wine on a regular basis. Occasionally they will have some decent specials, two for the price of one, 10% off six bottles or a really cheap range of cleanskins. I was there last Sunday giving it my monthly once over when I was told that all red wines were 30% off if I bought six. That sounded a good bargain to me so while the co driver cooled her heels people watching outside (what I do during quilt shop visits, so it's fair), I did a slow wander up and down the rows. I came across a bottle of Wynns Coonawarra Shiraz. That brought back a flood of memories.
My parents were always wine drinkers at mealtime. This was unusual for an Australian family in the 1950’s as most people either drank beer with food and fortified wines eg. sherry, port, muscat, after.
I was allowed my first sip at around 12 years old, a small glass of red wine diluted with 50% water. When we moved to Brisbane from Melbourne we ate out a lot. Something to do with the tropical climate and hot kitchens, I believe. My parent’s favourite restaurant was on Wickham Terrace and was called Chez Tessa. The menu contained some of the standard 1960’s fare eg. Chicken Maryland, Carpetbag Steak, Steak Diane and Coq au Vin were a few I remember. And of course there was always Bombe Alaska as a dessert. And they had a pretty substantial wine list which I think was a major attraction from my parent’s point of view. The 1960's had seen a major shift in wine production in Australia from fortifieds to sweet and sparkling table wines (Barossa Pearl, Sparkling Rhinegold, Starwine) and later in the decade to a preference for red wines of the fuller bodied Bordeaux style. This boom in red wines was sparked by a large increase in immigration particularly from Italy and Greece as well as a strong economy.
We went to Chez Tessa for my 16th birthday and I was allowed my first glass of undiluted red wine, Wynns Coonawarra Hermitage. Hermitage was the old name for Shiraz then, mirroring the use of the Shiraz grape in wines of the Hermitage Region of the Rhone in France. So that was the beginning for me of a life long love affair with wine. And nearly 50 years on I now had a bottle of the same brand to reminisce with over dinner.
Tasting Notes from Wynns: Wynns Coonawarra Estate winery is located on the world famous strip of 'Terra Rossa' soil that produces fruit with exceptional quality. Launched in 1952 as Coonawarra Estate Claret, this wine has long upheld Wynns Coonawarra Estate's reputation as a producer of premium Coonawarra Shiraz.
Typically the Wynns Coonawarra Estate Shiraz has aromas reminiscent of ground black pepper, mulberry and raspberry, through to blackberry at the riper end of the spectrum. Oak is used to mature and increase the wine's complexity, without dominating its distinctive cool-climate character. A medium bodied wine with a lengthy finish that will age gracefully in the tradition of the original Wynns Hermitage.