Hewiston’s Vineyard (courtesy of Hewiston winery)
Next year will be Hewitson winery’s 20th -anniversary, but with its quality to price ratio, you’ll want to celebrate it now.
Founded in 1998 in Australia’s Barossa Valley, Hewitson winery is a family operation with 52-year-old Dean Hewitson leading the winemaking team. After receiving his enology degree from Australia’s Roseworthy Agricultural College in 1986, he worked for a decade in wineries spanning the globe from Australia to France to Oregon. He earned a master’s degree from the wine program at the University of California at Davis, before returning home to create his eponymous winery.
Hewitson’s vineyards are spread throughout the acclaimed wine regions of South Australia: Barossa Valley, McLaren Vale and the Adelaide Hills. Some are owned by Hewitson, but most are under long-term contracts. Two, especially, have historical significance: In Barossa Valley, Hewitson has the exclusive rights to the Old Garden vineyard’s eight rows of mourvedre vines planted in 1853, and it sources grenache from a vineyard planted in 1880. Both are considered the oldest vines in the world for their respective grape varieties.
Over the course of two months, I tasted a selection of Hewitson wines beginning with the delightful single-vineyard 2016 Hewitson Gun Metal Riesling Eden Valley.
Made only from riesling grown in the Moculta Road vineyard, the 2016 Gun Metal Riesling gets its name from the grey-colored stones populating the vineyard. It’s bursting with citrus, lemon-thyme and mineral fragrances. Its medium body is shaped by the juicy, vibrant, ripe pear and guava flavors that are balanced and everlastingly long. A superb wine for a hot summer day at the cool price of $16 to $19. 91 points.
Cool is the climate of the LuLu vineyard, one the highest on the slopes of Adelaide Hills. From there comes the white–as-spring-water 2016 Hewitson LuLu Sauvignon Blanc Adelaide Hills, delivering fresh lemon and anise-seed aromas. Its stainless-steel tank fermentation captures the tasty white peach and pear flavors that flow on the wine’s medium body with a clean, dry finish. 89 points. Retail prices are $15 to $19.
Miss Harry is the nickname of Dean Hewitson’s daughter Harriet, born in 2014, and the inspiration for the 2014 Hewitson Miss Harry Harriet’s Blend Barossa Valley.
A classic Rhone Valley and southern France blend of grenache (48 percent), syrah, mourvedre, carignan and cinsault, Hewitson included fruit from the nearly 140-year-old grenache vineyard.
A cornucopia of black-cherry, cranberry, plum and smoke aromas is matched by an unfolding of white pepper, blackberry, cherry, and herbal flavors. Pleasing from the first sip, it was delicious with roasted eggplant topped with pork sausage-tomato sauce and melted goat cheese. 91 points. Retail prices are $16 to $22.
Baby Bush is the cheeky name for the wine made from young mourvedre grapevines planted in Hewitson’s vineyard from cuttings of the Old Garden 1853 mourvedre (a propagating method called massal selection). Now averaging 15 years old, the vines produced fragrant and flavorful grapes for the 2014 Hewitson Baby Bush Mourvedre Barossa Valley.
The Baby Bush is immediately likeable with its eye-appealing black-cherry hue with a refined pomegranate, red-plum, black pepper, sage and oregano aromas (winemakers often describe the latter aroma as underbrush, but my chef’s nose responds to oregano). Mourvedre’s blackberry and black-pepper flavors are supported by noticeable, but not aggressive tannins. This rambunctious baby cries for meat; serve it charcuterie, grilled chicken legs or flank steak. 90 points. Retail prices are $17 to $22.
The adult, so to speak, is the Hewitson 2013 Old Garden Single-Vineyard Barossa Valley. It contains the fruit of the 164-year-old vines that grow in a sandy vineyard with an underling bed of limestone. The ancient roots extend nearly 40 feet through the limestone protecting them from summer heat and nourishing the vines with minerals and moisture.
The 18-month aging regime in new French oak barrels added a milk-chocolate element to the mourvedre’s natural blackberry scent. Its medium body is wrapped in black-cherry and plum flavors with an undercurrent of vanilla from the barrels. While the vines are old and unique, the wine style is very contemporary and common. 88 points. Retail price is approximately $82.
Bottle photos by John Foy