From century-old vines comes a shiraz classic
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It’s Redman time: our annual salute to the friendship between a winemaker and grape grower who together put Coonawarra on the map.
We’re releasing the new vintage of the Redman Bill & Arthur Coonawarra Shiraz, made exclusively for The Australian Wine Club featuring grapes from a gnarly old row of vines planted more than 100 years ago.
Those vines are a legacy of the union between two larger-than-life pioneers: winemaker Bill Redman and grape grower Arthur Hoffmann. The Bill & Arthur 2021 was hand-plunged and basket-pressed, adhering to Bill’s time-honoured methods, producing a wine of elegance and silkiness, showing off lovely black and red fruit flavours. More on that below – as well as a very special half-price deal.
The story of Bill & Arthur goes to the heart of winemaking itself. You may have heard this a thousand times but it’s a truth worth repeating: great wines are born in the vineyard.
It’s the grape growers who thoughtfully tend to their vines year after year; learning through the seasons how different microclimates within their vineyard shape the flavour profiles of the fruit; understanding how various pruning techniques impact the growth of grapes and drive flavour intensity. Brilliant wines cannot be created from anything less than brilliant grapes.
With interest in a wine’s provenance and the story of individual vineyards growing among wine lovers, more winemakers are calling out on their wine labels the names of the grape growers who created the fruit that ended up in the bottle. It’s a good trend and deepens our understanding of wine.
This yarn begins in 1908 when Arthur began supplying grapes to young Bill, who had arrived in Coonawarra as a skinny 14-year-old only a few years earlier and picked up work at John Riddoch’s cellars, where he was taught how to make wine.
The Hoffmann family were among the original colonists in the Coonawarra and Arthur spent his early years working in the family’s orchards at a time when vineyards were just beginning to be planted in the region.
Arthur focused on honing his viticultural skills, working with other local vineyards as well as planting more vineyards for his family.
These were pioneering days: even by the 1950s, there were only 200 acres of vines in Coonawarra, about 10 per cent of which were owned by the Hoffmanns. Through these hardscrabble years, Bill was one of very few makers of red wine in the region, working away on rudimentary equipment, often without electricity and with little recognition. His wine was mainly sold in bulk to other Australian wineries including Yalumba, Woodleys and Tolley.
It was a wine made by Bill, the award-winning Woodleys St Adele 1933 claret, that caught the attention of David and Samuel Wynn and gave them enough confidence in Coonawarra’s winemaking potential to buy the then run-down Riddoch winery, setting the region on its path to international fame.
Redman began selling wine under his own label, Rouge Homme, in the early 1950s, with grapes from Arthur’s vineyards. Family say Bill often noted his greatest wines were due to the quality of the Hoffmanns’ fruit. When Rouge Homme was sold to Lindeman’s in 1965, Bill retired but his son, Owen, launched the Redman brand and arranged to purchase one of Arthur’s best blocks, which contained those old vines planted in the 1890s. It’s the last row of these vines that still make their way into the Redman Bill & Arthur each vintage.
“Old vines are a bit like humans – they need a little extra TLC,’’ says Dan Redman, Bill’s great-grandson and the fourth generation of his family to make wine in Coonawarra. “They may not produce as much as they once did but you find a lovely consistency in the fruit and wonderful mature tannins that give wine that nice softness.”
Arthur managed Redman’s vineyards into the 1980s and remained living in the house on the property where he was born. He even ventured off with Bill on an overseas trip to explore some of Europe’s great wine regions. It was their first time out of Australia.
Bill and Arthur are no longer with us but each year they are celebrated at Coonawarra’s Limestone Coast Wine Show where the trophies for the region’s top winemaker and viticulturist respectively are named in their honour.
Drawn from the 1890s heritage row and other Redman vineyards with an average vine age of about 50 years, the` Bill & Arthur stands as a classic Coonawarra shiraz: medium-bodied, with a richness of fruit that ripens at a lower alcohol level than typical Barossa and McLaren Vale shiraz. The 2021 shows bright aromas of plums, blackberries and red currants, with pepper and five-spice playing in the background.
The fruit flavours run deep but the wine feels soft and silky in the mouth, with supple tannins floating the boat right down the river. Dan Redman describes the 2021 vintage as one of Coonawarra’s best. Matured in aged American and French oak for about 12 months. Will cellar for five to 10 years but ready for immediate drinking pleasure. 13.9% alc. RRP $40 a bottle.
BILL & ARTHUR DEAL $19.99 a bottle in straight dozen. Save $240.12 on a dozen
COONAWARRA SPECIAL DOZ $21.99 a bottle. Save $216.12 on a dozen. Features three bottles of each:
● Redman Bill & Arthur Coonawarra Shiraz 2021 (RRP $40)
● Allegiance Wines The Artisan Reserve Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon 2020 (RRP $49.99)
● Brand & Sons Bakers Run Coonawarra Cabernet 2018 (RRP $30)
● RedHeads Catbird Seat 2021 (RRP $30)
Add 3 bottles of Yelverton Reserve Single Vineyard Coonawarra Chardonnay 2021 (RRP $24) to the Coonawarra Special Dozen
Order online or telephone 1300 765 359 Monday to Friday from 8am to 6pm AEST. Deals available only while stocks last. The Australian Wine Club is a commercial partnership with Laithwaites Wine. Stockhead is partnering with The Australian Wine Club on this offer.