Dean Hewitson is a Barossa Valley winemaker who is making reds in a style that doesn’t always attract attention, but is very merit-worthy. These are elegant, profound wines, made usually from old-vine fruit, and they are never oaky, extractive, overripe or over-built.
His 2012 reds which have come my way recently are outstanding. The pair of $49 Barossa shirazes, The Mother Vine (tasting) and The Mad Hatter (tasting), are both lovely elegant wines of superb texture, seamless flow and a degree of subtlety that isn’t often seen in the Barossa. I really enjoyed both of them, not just in the blind tastings, but as drinking wines with a meal.
Cast in a similar mould, but at cheaper prices, are his two longstanding Rhone styles, Miss Harry (tasting) – a mélange of grenache, shiraz, mourvedre, cinsault and carignan (red berries and earth, subtle pepper and mint; $23) – and Baby Bush mourvedre (pepper, spices, mysterious and delicious; $26 – tasting). Again from the 2012 vintage, they are outstanding value for money.
Hewitson is one of many winemakers who came through the proving-ground of Petaluma (tastings), where he worked for a decade or so during Brian Croser’s tenure. He set up his own wine company in 1998 and operated for some years out of an industrial estate in Adelaide, until he bought his own property at Dorrien in the Barossa and purpose-built his new winery in 2007.
He’s a quiet achiever: you need to seek him and his wines out. They are worth the effort.