Wynnsday 2019 with Sue Hodder
Friday, October 4, 2019 in News
Happy Wynnsday! Each year, Wynns Coonawarra Estate celebrates its latest releases with the winery’s famous Black Label Cabernet Sauvignon leading the line. To mark the occasion for 2019, a number of our clients joined us for dinner at the Ivy in Sydney with winemaker Sue Hodder. Shop Wynns wines.
Langton’s premium events are always enjoyable and our clients got access to one of Australia’s most important winemakers. Sue shared her perspective on Wynns wines, including the latest Riesling, the Michael, some back-vintage Riddoch and a sweet treat to finish, She answered questions (off the record, you had to be there) from our own Head of Auctions, Tamara Grischy
After taking our teams through two tastings of her wines at Langton’s HQ, Sue Hodder managed to grab five minutes before we decamped to the Ivy’s Sunroom. Guests were welcomed with glasses of the 2018 Wynns Riesling. Yes! Wynns do make a Riesling. They have since the 60s, and like everything they do, it's understated while overdelivering on quality for the price. Once all of the guests arrived, we sat down for beef carpaccio and gnocchi to start, followed by duck and lamb, and finished with a selection of cheeses. Sue took us through the following wines.
‘Black Label’ Cabernet Sauvignon
The 2017 is the 62nd release of the Black Label. Recent early vintages that have passed through our auctions have confirmed that it originally had a white label. The latest 2017 comes from a very tricky year. Rain, then rain, which was followed by some more periods of rain. Tough decisions had to be made, which means there are far fewer bottles of the Black Label than usual. However, it is worth noting that there was no 2017 John Riddoch made. Sue revealed that the great Coonawarra Riddoch fruit made its way into the Black Label instead.
Shop Wynns 'Black Label' Cabernet Sauvignon here.
O’Deas Single Vineyard Cabernet
Something indeed very rare, a true field blend from the Coonawarra. Every year, Wynns releases a single vineyard wine. It’s a great programme that shows that a large winery can execute a grand idea on a small scale. The O’Deas is made from co-fermented Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Malbec from the warm 2016 vintage. Sue Hodder has hit the mark here, brilliantly. Our 2016 Bordeaux wines landed just before Wynnsday, and if a small unheralded Château offered this wine at this price, it would race out of our warehouse. Such an elegant and refined wine; joyous, complex, abundant, long and moreish.
Sue shared that the team of Spanish winemakers that worked on in the O’Deas vineyard during the vintage had developed something of an affinity for the vines. It says something about the time-capsule, message-in-a-bottle nature of wine, that Sue presented a pair of these winemakers with a bottle of the O’Deas at their recent wedding in Spain.
Shop Wynns O'Deas Single Vineyard Cabernet here.
A Coonawarra varietal wine that isn’t a Cabernet! Jokes aside, this is a serious, estate-grown Shiraz. A lesser-known regional varietal but by no means a lesser wine, with that palate-enveloping, rich-as-Croesus liquid, and millefeuille of fine tannins. There were ‘oohs’, ‘ahs’ and ‘mmms’.
Shop Wynns Michael Shiraz here.
John Riddoch Cabernet Sauvignon
At the Wynnsday Dinner, Sue showed us the 2016 and the 1999. The latter was a masterclass in itself on why wines like the John Riddoch should be aged, although the 2016 edged over its elder sibling for wine of the night if the straw polls were to be believed. First vintaged in 1982, the Riddoch is made using less than one percent of Wynns top Cabernet grapes. This is a flagship wine, not just for the winery but for the region.
Shop Wynns John Riddoch Cabernet Sauvignon here.
It’s probably a doff of the cap to Wynns and the success of their Black Label and John Riddoch that this PX, made from 100-year-old vines (that you see on the Wynns label!), is relatively unknown. Mostly enjoyed after a visit to the cellar door, where one of the staff will tell you that this PX is made from those vines and point to the rows outside the winery, then follow that up with a note that those same phylloxera-free vines were planted on their own roots over a hundred years ago. Well, you’re going to pick up a bottle, aren’t you? And, well, you should.
It’s a treat. A sweet treat but also a wine of quality and character. And history for that matter, harking back to a time when sweet wines were the industry's life’s blood. Paired with cheddar, the combination offered a complete flavour and textural experience. Talk to your broker to add one of these bottles to your Wynns order.
Our Head of Auctions Tamara Grischy did not divulge quite how many years she has known Sue Hodder, but enough to cultivate profound respect for Sue, rightly describing her as a legend. Determined, high achieving and quietly confident—which is no doubt why she has been such a good fit for Wynns—Sue fielded some questions from Tamara, but when pressed on what her one, single, only desert island wine would be, her answer sounded more like a very impressive wine list.
Interestingly, when asked what advice she would give to her younger self, Sue had this to say: ‘Don’t be a wine snob. I went through that phase and it’s no good. Taste everything—the great, the good and the ordinary.'
Sue Hodder was awarded the Woman of Inspiration at the Australian Women in Wine Awards 2018. The following year, Langton’s Tamara Gishcy won the same award. Neither Sue nor Tamara got there by putting up their feet. Tamara acknowledged this, saying that the wine industry can be incredibly demanding, and asked Sue what she does to switch off. ‘I like to go out bush. I grew up in Alice Springs and I’m more at home in the bush than by the sea.’
Thanks to all of the guests who attended our premium Wynnsday 2019 Dinner event, and thanks to Wynns Chief Winemaker Sue Hodder for her time, insights and wine.