Wynns Coonawarra Estate’s veteran winemaker, Sue Hodder, will tour its flagship John Riddoch Cabernet throughout Europe later in 2022, her 30th year with the company.
Hodder’s European tour is somewhat belated, with COVID-19 having disrupted promotional support of Wynns John Riddoch Cabernet’s launch in 2020 on the international wine marketplace, La Place de Bordeaux.
Andrew Caillard MW told the Drinks Adventures podcast in November 2020 that the European launch of Wynns John Riddoch and Jim Barry The Armagh was significant for Australian wine.
“It’s kind of an appreciation among Bordeaux negotiants that Australia is making some of the finest wines in the world, and that’s been a pretty difficult nut to crack,” he said.
Hodder will visit France, the UK, Ireland, Scandinavia and Asia in support of the new 2019 John Riddoch, which she says is among the best wines ever made at Wynns.
“It is fine and medium bodied from an optimal growing season, a truly elegant representation of luxury cabernet from our world-class region,” she wrote in a letter to trade.
“We are proud to launch it via La Place de Bordeaux this September.”
Hodder said John Riddoch Cabernet was first made in 1982 and it has been the pinnacle at Wynns ever since her arrival in 1993, and appointment as chief winemaker in 1998.
“It is the ultimate selection – less than one per cent of all our cabernet fruit,” she said.
“We don’t make it every year. As a rule, all the Wynns John Riddoch wines made should still be drinking well, if well cellared. It is an Australian icon.”
Hodder paid tribute in the letter to viticulturist Allen Jenkins, who retired last year following “a profound shake-up” of Wynns vineyards over his two decades with the company (listen to Jenkins on Drinks Adventures here).
“His vision, leadership, community contribution and commitment to absolute quality continue in the team of internationally awarded viticulture stars,” Hodder writes.
“Stepping into his boots is long-time Wynns viticulturist, Ben Harris, who lives with his family in a terra rossa vineyard.”
She said the 26-year winemaking partnership of herself and Sarah Pidgeon had been bolstered by the recent arrival of another winemaker, Chris Plummer.
“He is a rare combination of intellect and pragmatism. Our small team is complete,” she said.
“After 30 years, I still have great joy in walking out the back door to our historic triple gabled winery.
“While this beautiful building remains largely untouched, we do now use smaller tanks, oak fermenters, different oak barrels, and an optical berry sorter (that we love).
“These winemaking tools just enable us to be more confidently creative. Our Wynns house style remains clear.”
Wine podcast episodes by Drinks Adventures: Updated for 2022
Intoxicating: Ten Drinks That Shaped Australia, with author Max Allen – S6E2
China wine and spirits market: Pitfalls and opportunities – S5E8