Henry's Drive Parson's Flat Cabernet Shiraz 2008
Blend: 68% Shiraz, 32% Cabernet Sauvignon
Named after the proprietor of the 19th century mail coach service that once ran through their property, Henry’s Drive Vignerons is the wine operation established by Kim Longbottom and her late husband Mark. During the nineteenth century establishment of the farming and wine industries of south eastern South Australia, only horse drawn coaches provided the transit of mail and passengers.
The coach drivers reigned supreme on top of their coaches and won the respect and admiration of their passengers. The coach service proprietor in this part of the state was a certain Henry John Hill. His operation drove directly through a property, owned more recently by the Longbottom family. Today, Kim continues to build the business in honor of Mark; with fine winemaking and brands such as Henry’s Drive, Parson’s Flat, The Trial of John Montford, Dead Letter Office, The Postmistress, The Scarlet Letter, Pillar Box and Morse Code. These wines are testament to Kim and Mark’s dedication to crafting fine
wines from Padthaway, one of one of Australia’s great wine growing regions.
Proprietor Kim Longbottom, who hails from New Zealand’s famous wine producing region of Marlborough, has winemaking in her blood. Her late husband, Mark was a third generation pastoralist and had a natural affinity with the land. Together, they shared a passion for viticulture and winemaking—a passion that is central to the business. In 1992, Kim and Mark carefully selected sections of their properties for vine planting. Six years later, a dream was realized with the release of their first wines, coinciding with another life-affirming moment—the birth of their daughter, Margo. Sadly, Mark passed away in 2008. A loyal and honest man with a wry sense of humor, Kim and Margo’s loss was felt far outside his beloved Padthaway.
A large, climatically diverse country producing just about every wine style imaginable, Australia is not just a source of blockbuster Shiraz or inexpensive wine with cute labels, though both can certainly be found here. Australia has a grand winemaking history and some of the oldest vines on the planet, along with a huge range of landscapes and climates; it is impossible to make generalizations about Australian wine. Most regions are concentrated in the south of the country with those inland experiencing warm, dry weather, and those in more coastal areas receiving humid and tropical, or maritime weather patterns. Australia has for several decades been at the forefront of winemaking technology and has widely adopted the use of screwcaps, even for some premium and ultra-premium bottles.
Shiraz is indeed Australia’s most celebrated and widely planted variety, typically producing bold, supple reds with sweet, jammy fruit and performing best in the Barossa and Hunter Valleys. Cabernet Sauvignon is often blended with Shiraz, and also shines on its own particularly in Coonawarra and Margaret River. Grenache and Mourvèdre (often locally referred to as Mataro) are also popular, both on their own and alongside Shiraz in Rhône blends. Chardonnay is common throughout the country and made in a wide range of styles. Sauvignon Blanc has recently surged in popularity to compete with New Zealand’s distinctive version, and Semillon is often utilized as its blending partner, or in the Hunter Valley, on its own to make complex, age-worthy whites. Riesling thrives in the cool-climate Clare and Eden Valleys. Sticky-sweet fortified wine Rutherglen Muscat is a beloved regional specialty of Victoria. Thanks to the country’s relatively agreeable climate throughout and the openness of its people, experimentation is common and ongoing, and there are a vast array of intriguing varieties to be found.
With hundreds of red grape varieties to choose from, winemakers have the freedom to create a virtually endless assortment of blended wines. In many European regions, strict laws are in place determining the set of varieties that may be used, but in the New World, experimentation is permitted and encouraged. Blending can be utilized to enhance balance or create complexity, lending different layers of flavors and aromas. For example, a variety that creates a fruity and full-bodied wine would do well combined with one that is naturally high in acidity and tannins. Sometimes small amounts of a particular variety are added to boost color or aromatics. Blending can take place before or after fermentation, with the latter, more popular option giving more control to the winemaker over the final qualities of the wine.