Beechworth gems

Beechworth is a small but precious gem in the jewellery box of Australian wine. The mean standard of the wines is outrageously high and the number of small, new labels emanating from the region is steadily increasing.

The Beechworth vignerons’ website lists 32 producers, many of which don’t have a cellar door.

This year the Beechworth vignerons staged a regional tasting for the trade, media and public in Beechworth and it was a big success. Every producer except one exhibited their wines – and he agreed to join in next year! I’ve never heard of such participation in any wine region.

My Beechworth reviews are among this month’s new uploads. They were based on a tasting I did the week after the event, and not all of the wines were included (some wineries such as Giaconda (tastings), Savaterre (tastings) and Castagna (tastings) send me samples throughout the year, and didn’t see any point doubling up). Stand-out wines included newer faces Domenica (from ex-Giaconda winemaker Peter Graham – tastings), Fighting Gully Road (from distinguished viticulturalist Mark Walpole – tastings), Piano Piano (from Rutherglen Estates winemaker Marc Scalzo – tastings), The Rest (which is the Warner family’s own brand, named after a gold rush-era pub whose ruins are on their property – tastings), Adrian Rodda – tastings (assistant winemaker at Oakridge), The Ninth Mile (at Stanley, elevation 750 metres – tastings), James & Co (from Ricky James – tastings), Two Cells (Domenica’s second label – tastings), and Traviarti (from former wine marketing executive Simon Grant – tastings). Several of these producers are Italian grape enthusiasts, making wines of real note.

Better known brands are Brokenwood (tastings) Indigo Vineyard and Indigo itself (tastings) – the region’s biggest vineyard, which has ownership links with Brokenwood and provides the fruit for Brokenwood’s Beechworth wines. Also Golden Ball (tastings), James McLaurin’s excellent wines. Golden Ball is the next-door neighbour of Indigo. Its shirazes and Bordeaux blend Gallice are among the region’s best.

It’s an exciting region: new developments include Peter Graham’s new winery, which is being built next door to the Warner vineyard. 

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