Friday, August 14, 2009


Being a part of the Fosters consortium, I'm sure Wynns has their fair share of doubters, but really, you'd have to be pretty silly to of not noticed how good their wines have been of late.

Since undertaking the redevelopment of many of the company's extensive vineyard holdings several years ago, chief winemaker Sue Hodder and her team have increased wine quality dramatically and noticeably.

As has been the standard for the last couple of years, Wynns new release wines show many highlights.

The 2008 releases of riesling and chardonnay continue to be the best pair of sub-$15 Coonawarra whites around. As always, they provide uncomplicated but clean, fun drinking.

The 2008 Shiraz continues a run of fine vintages this affordable little number has had of late, personally, off this tasting, I think it's the best this century.

Once again the real highlight is Wynns' three cabernet sauvignons. The classic Black Label has delivered a well textured, concentrated wine from the rather unforgiving 2007 Coonawarra vintage, which is a pleasant improvement over the 2006 wine.

In keeping with current industry trends and high-end consumer needs, they've knocked out another top notch single vineyard wine, this time coined the Alex 88 Cabernet Sauvignon. I found this inferior to the 2005 Messenger or the 2004 Johnson's Block (Shiraz/Cab), but it's a damn fine, long lasting cabernet in its own right, which outperforms most other Coonawarra cabernet from 2006. I also learnt that the scheduled 2007 single vineyard wine, which was to be named the Sightings (I think), has been pulled and won't be released. Sad that.

Unsurprisingly the John Riddoch was the pick of the bunch. The 2006 is a very powerful wine, not as complete as the 2004 or as deliciously approachable as the 2005, but another exceptional Coonawarra cabernet from this regional benchmark. I really believe the John Riddoch can now lay claim to being the 'King of Coonawarra', or at least in my eyes.

Tasting notes have been listed below, with the prices offered by Melbourne Street Fine Wine Cellars displayed as well.

Wynns Riesling 2008 ($11) Lightly spiced aromas of white pear and lemon. The palate is clean and schisty, with the length and crisp acidity few in Coonawarra achieve with riesling. Where's the 2009 I ask? 89

Wynns Chardonnay 2008 ($11) A rather simple fragrance of soft peach, melon and lemon fruits, lead into a smooth and clean palate with a refreshing finish framed by cleansing, brisk, grapefruit-like acids. Good quaffer. 88

Wynns Shiraz 2008 ($11) Very distinct Coonawarra shiraz nose. It presents a lightly floral fragrance of redcurrant fruits and black pepper with a hint of leather/tar. Vibrant and medium-bodied, its palate is plushly fruited and particularly appealing. A real success at this price and for this label. Bargain. (Full review soon). 91

Wynns Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 ($27) Ripe blackcurrant/dark plum nose, with hints of dustiness and plush chocolate/cedar oak. Shows both French and American oak treatment to good effect. Palate shows great concentration and a more velvety texture than expected for this label, with generously ripe, but not over ripe fruit flavours. Delicious. (Full review soon). 93

Wynns Alex 88 Cabernet Sauvignon 2006 ($37) Perfumed, fragrant nose, with touches of choc-mint over classic cassis and violet aromas. Wonderfully dense and concentrated yet elegant palate, shows pronounced dark fruit flavours wrapped in grippy, powdery tannins. Finishes long and strong. 94

Wynns John Riddoch Cabernet Sauvignon 2006 ($72) Very even, elegant nose shows the skill of Sue Hodder's winemaking. With great depth, poise and balance, it displays both red and dark fruit aromas with polished vanilla/cedar oak. Palate announces itself with beautiful elegance, smoothness and concentration, before revealing a pleasing undercarriage of savoury quality. Contains true mouthfilling flavour and exceptional structure, as its powerful, drying tannins lead into a finish of almost never ending length. Needs more time, and plenty of it. A real 'experience'. 96


  1. The Shiraz is a steal, bang on Chris. I had quite a bit of time for the Alex 88, but the John Riddoch is awesomer. 07 Black Label nice, more medium bodied than 06 for me. 06 was a belter, so often availbale for $20. Certainly Sue Hodder (along with others, as you rightly mention) has Wynns happily back on track, no matter who owns them ;) Enjoyable TNs, thanks!



  2. I'm certainly looking forward to further examining the 07 Black Label soon, I quite liked it off the back of that tasting.
    I was a little disappointed by the 06 after what I thought were a couple of exceptional wines from 04 and 05. I just found it a little firm and blocky and requiring a bit more time to be more accessible than what previous releases did. All the same, I'm sure the 06 will be a beauty once it gets closer to full maturity.

    Thanks Again Jeremy,


  3. p.s. Jeremy, I also completely agree about that shiraz comment. I just drunk a bottle with the in-laws and am amazed what Wynns can do for $11. It's got far more refinement and interest for the serious wine drinker than practically any sub $15 shiraz from anywhere in SA, let alone Coonawarra.
    Cheers to Sue Hodder I guess

  4. Yes Chris I am one of those Wynns doubters you speak of. Haven't had the 07 Black Label yet but I think that wines starting to come across as a very mass produced style. Gimme Majella or Balnaves instead anyday

  5. Fair call that. You're certainly not the first person I've encountered with that view. Personally I think given the economies of scale it's amazing what Wynns produce. Perhaps they do follow a certain 'formula', but I feel it's a good one and one which reveals its best with careful cellaring.

    Have you tried any of Wynns' single vineyard series?

    I'd whole-heartedly recommend the 2005 Messenger Block Cabernet Sauvignon, it should still be available. Given it's single vineyard, it shouldn't be 'too' mass produced. I'd be interested to know if you still taste those same 'mass produced' characters in the Messenger.

    Chris P