The region of Adams
What is it about the name Adam and the Great Western region? Adam Wadewitz is a former winemaker at Best’s – tastings (now at Shaw + Smith – tastings), Adam Carnaby is the present winemaker at Seppelt (tastings), and Adam Richardson is one of the newer additions to what is a relatively intimate winemaking scene. The Grampians region has about 450 hectares of vines and only 18 wine producers.
Adam Richardson (pictured) is not your average boutique winemaker. He has lived in the US for 19 years and for the last two has been head of winemaking for Treasury Wine Group in the US. This means looking after all winemaking for famous brands such as Beringer, Etude, Stags Leap Winery, Chateau St Jean and others. Before that he worked for The Wine Group, which is the second-biggest wine producing company in the US after Gallo. But he’s an Aussie and plans to eventually return to Australia, where he has a 20-hectare vineyard in the Great Western district of the Grampians region. His wines under the A.T. Richardson label (tastings) have been available for the last few years. Richardson is Perth-born but some time ago formed the conclusion that the Grampians was where he wanted to make his own wine.
He has gone one better than planting the predictable varieties that have always made Great Western’s great wines, shiraz and riesling. He has durif, which he thinks might just be the most southerly planting of durif in Australia. The 2012 vintage is sensational. Adam was adventurous planting the durif, but the reason is that he has many years experience making it in the US, where it’s known as petite sirah. He also makes a commendable nebbiolo, not from his own vines but from the Malakoff vineyard in the Pyrenees.
He buys chardonnay grapes from neighbouring vineyards, Twomey and Wadewitz, and also some shiraz for his second label, Chockstone. The 2012 Chockstone Shiraz is a lovely peppery/spicy, medium-bodied elegant style, while the Hard Hill Road Shiraz 2012, a reserve selection from his own vines, is more concentrated, structured and powerful, and ageworthy.
Adam says he chose Great Western because it is one of the few places in the world where great shiraz and riesling can both be produced. The vineyard is on Hard Hill Road: Hard Hill was named by the 1850s gold miners because of the toughness of the soil which is strong in ironstone and quartz. The advantage is that is it’s low in fertility and yields concentrated grapes. These then produce wines of structure and longevity.
A word about the Chockstone brand. Adam is a rock-climber, and a chockstone is a stone wedged between two rocks that provides the climber with a handy resting-place during an exhausting climb. There’s been zero rock-climbing since Adam’s young family began arriving on the scene. No doubt he will find time later on for that activity as the Grampians are famous for rock-climbing spots.
Meanwhile, he juggles the A.T. Richardson activities with his responsibilities as chief winemaker for Treasury USA. You could say he has his hands full.
A.T. Richardson wines are distributed in Sydney by Single Vineyard Sellers. The Hard Hill Road reds are $60; the Chockstone shiraz and chardonnay are $30, the riesling $23.