Fromm Winery getting ready to harvest.

Adam Carnaby

Seppelt, Victoria, seppelt.com.au

Taking on the role of senior winemaker in 2011, Adam Carnaby has been instrumental in revitalising Seppelt’s Grampians reds, and lifting the profile of the Drumborg wines from Henty, as well as the shiraz from Bendigo and Mount Ida. For all this work, he was recognised as a finalist at the GT WINE Winemaker of the Year Awards in 2016.

Seppet’s senior winemaker Adam Carnaby.
Seppet’s senior winemaker Adam Carnaby.

What’s your go-to style of red for casual weeknight dinners?
I’ve always enjoyed reds that are food-friendly, medium-bodied and sourced from both near and afar. Current favourites include varieties from Côtes du Rhône, South Australian grenache, and of course a Victorian pinot noir never goes amiss.

What are you likely to have simmering on the stove?
It could be anything from a Malaysian rendang curry to spicy chicken skewers or my wife’s famous lamb cutlets. I’m also dabbling with making my own Turkish bread, perfect for pairing with a Middle-Eastern salad.

Have you got any special reds stashed away for when you feel like spoiling yourself?
Burgundy has been a long-time favourite of mine. I was fortunate to work a vintage there in 2005 and there’s something very special about the sheer length of time wines have been planted and made in that region – they’re somewhat ethereal in my book. Opening up a Burgundy, such as Gevrey-Chambertin is always special.

Which local red grape varieties are leading the way at the moment?
I think grenache and pinot noir are having a real moment. Medium-bodied, lighter-coloured more perfumed varieties – and blends such as GSMs are becoming increasingly popular.

Which regions are doing them best?
For grenache, the quality coming out of McLaren Vale and the Barossa continues to be pretty exceptional. For pinot noir, Tasmania, Yarra Valley and Mornington are all crafting great wines – and on a personal note, we continue to see really striking pinot coming out of the Henty region, too.

Have any special imported reds crossed your path in recent times?
I’m really enjoying northern Italian reds – nebbiolo, barbera, dolcetto – all interesting, savoury wines and they speak of another world. The smell, taste and sense of place is fantastic. It’s like a mini holiday with every taste.

Can you recommend three Australian reds you reckon we should all lay our hands on, other than your own?
Coldstream Hills Deer Farm Pinot Noir. From a single vineyard in the upper Yarra, it’s consistently sensational drinking. Also, Ministry of Clouds Grenache, a medium-bodied wine with the right amount of complexity that encapsulates McLaren Vale grenache. And third, Best’s Bin No 1 Shiraz. As neighbours of ours at Great Western, I always enjoy tasting this wine.

Which of your own wines are drinking particularly well right now?
Our 2017 Seppelt Chalambar Grampians & Heathcote Shiraz and 2018 Seppelt Drumborg Vineyard Pinot Meunier are both drinking beautifully, with the vintages being equally strong for the respective styles. These wines are a joy to make, and showcase the natural balance and personality these vineyards are known for.

The 2020 Seppelt Luxury Collection releases on 17 June from select retailers. For more information visit www.seppelt.com.au

Sophie Parker-Thomson & Matt Thomson

Blank Canvas, Marlborough, New Zealand; blankcanvaswines.com

International winemaking consultant Matt Thomson and wife Sophie Parker-Thomson, a solicitor in the final stages of completing her Master of Wine, make small-batch, single-vineyard wines from both Marlborough and Hawke’s Bay. Both have a barrel-load of international experience, which they channel into making wines using a minimalist approach.

In spite of a surreal vintage, Sophie and Matt say their fruit looks promising.
In spite of a surreal vintage, Sophie and Matt say their fruit looks promising.

Where would you most like to be making red wines if not in New Zealand?
Quite easily: Piemonte, Italy. For us, Barolo/Barbaresco and nebbiolo belong in the spellbinding aromatic red category; when you strike a good one it makes the hair on your neck stand on end.

You embrace a minimalist philosophy; which other winemakers doing similar things have inspired you?
For our pinot noir wines we draw inspiration from Domaines Dujac and Leroy from Burgundy, and Massolino in Barolo; for syrah, Domaine Jamet in Cote Rotie and Pierre Gonon in Saint-Joseph.

When it comes to whites grapes, for grüner veltliner, we look to Bründlmayer and Kurt Angerer in Austria for inspiration; for riesling, we are inspired by Egon Müller, Dr. H. Thanisch and Fritz Haag in the Mosel; for chardonnay, we look to Henri Boillot, Ramonet, Raveneau and Patrick Piuze in Burgundy.

As far as sauvignon blanc is concerned, we have had some beautiful wines from Henri Bourgeois in the Loire Valley.

What have been the standout reds lately?
We’ve recently been wowed by a beautiful bottle of 2011 Aldo Conterno Cicala Barolo; a dense, structured and classic 2013 E. Pira Chiara Boschis Mosconi Barolo; an ethereal 2016 Franck Balthazar Cuvée Casimir Balthazar Cornas; a porcini-loaded and profound 1990 Altesino Montosoli Brunello di Montalcino, and an elegant pinot noir from Tolpuddle in Tasmania.

What’s your go-to everyday red or style of red when you have a dinner for two?
Aromatic reds – we are really enjoying pinot noir at the moment – from all over the world. We also adore good nebbiolo and cool-climate syrah.  

Undertaking a Master of Wine has introduced Parker-Thomson to lesser-known regions.
Undertaking a Master of Wine has introduced Parker-Thomson to lesser-known regions.

Have you got any special reds stashed away for when you feel like spoiling yourself?
We are lucky (or unlucky?) enough to share in this obsession and as such, we are united on the significant percentage of our disposable income going on wine. We have some big bottles of Jamet, Super Tuscans (Cepparello, Flaccianello), Altesino Brunello di Montalcino, Domenico Clerico Barolo, Aldo Conterno Cicala and some Bordeaux Cru Classé.

Are there any imported or local reds you like to benchmark your own wines against?
We taste a lot of pinot noir and syrah from New Zealand and Australia as well as European and other international examples. The MW studies have certainly helped us search out lesser-known regions producing these varieties.

How was current vintage for you?
If it wasn’t for Covid-19, it would be one of the easiest, but it’s been one of the least enjoyable and most surreal vintages we’ve ever experienced. The fruit is looking really promising though and we have high hopes for sauvignon blanc, pinot noir and syrah this year.

Which of your own wines are drinking particularly well right now?
2017 Blank Canvas Element Syrah: For us this wine is singing right now. It is probably as far from the New World as we get, very savoury, dry and structured. Reinforcing our ‘wines made without recipes’ mantra, we co-ferment this with a proportion of grüner veltliner skins, giving a brilliantly vibrant colour and matrix of white/black pepper spice notes.

2017 Blank Canvas Escaroth Pinot Noir: It is dry-farmed, north-facing hillside pinot presided over by a dragon (not kidding). The wine with 50% whole-bunch fermentation is savoury, structured but possesses typical pinot fragrance.

2017 Blank Canvas Abstract Sauvignon Blanc: Matt is serious when he says this is possibly the best wine he’s ever made. It’s whole-bunch pressed, full solids, and wild fermented in puncheons for 15 months on lees. Very layered, textural and savoury.

Paul Smith

Wirra Wirra, McLaren Vale, wirrawirra.com

Paul Smith insists it’s all about ‘letting the fruit shine’. That’s why he spends a great deal of time walking the vineyards – especially during vintage. Wirra Wirra’s estate vineyards are farmed biodynamically, while the rest of their fruit comes from a trusted crew of growers from McLaren Vale and the Adelaide Hills, the main source of the whites.

Wirra Wirra’s Paul Smith is a bit of a Barolo fan.
Wirra Wirra’s Paul Smith is a bit of a Barolo fan.

If you could only drink one style of red for a week at home, what would it be?
At the moment it would be Barolo. We were meant to be travelling to Italy this year, which is not going to happen now, but I’m still trying to stay in that zone.

What do you cook up at home when opening a really good bottle of red?
I love cooking one of my mum’s recipes for beef bourguignon. It’s a hardy, rustic dish that is perfect for winter, sitting in front of the fire with a great bottle of red.

Have you got any special reds stashed away for when you feel like spoiling yourself?Wendouree wines are really special to me. I love their distinctive nature and the honesty in how they are made. A 20-year-old Wendouree is just entering its prime, so it really is a wine worth stashing away.

I am a big fan of grenache and seeing how grenache-based wines are made in other parts of the word, so I like to cellar Châteauneuf-du-Pape and drink it when spoiling myself.

Which red grape varieties do you reckon we are going to see leading the way in McLaren Vale in the future?
Grenache will have a vital role to play in our identity and in forging a reputation for the region globally. It has such a long history in McLaren Vale, but it also feels new and exciting. Shiraz will always be important and it continues to produce such great wines consistently in varying vintage conditions.

Which reds from other producers around Australian do like to crack open to compare with your own?
Kay Brothers make really honest wines that represent the McLaren Vale region so well. Yangarra have a really strong reputation and make great wines, so it’s always good to keep tabs on their wines. The wines coming out of Hardys Tintara are always good to look at. The old flour mill winery is a great facility and the wines are consistently of high quality.

What worthwhile imported reds crossed your path in recent times?
Still on the Italian theme, I’ve been drinking and enjoying Barolo from Mario Marengo and Antinori Chianti Classico. They are both producers that are relatively easy to find in Adelaide and make some great wines.

Can you recommend three Australian reds we should lay our hands on, other than your own?
Wendouree – whatever you can get your hands on, but I have always loved the shiraz in particular. Kay Brother’s Griffon’s Key Grenache. It’s a great expression of McLaren Vale grenache. And Home Hill Pinot Noir. It’s not easy to find, but it’s a great Tassie pinot.

Which of your own wines are drinking particularly well right now?
2018 Original Blend Grenache Shiraz – It’s a vibrant and fresh style that drinks really well on release. It’s a great mid-week go-to wine.  

2010 RSW Shiraz – It’s in a really nice spot at the moment. It’s still showing rich and lush fruit with structural complexity and some savoury characters.

2012 Church Block – This was an amazing vintage and the wine is really well balanced and drinking so well at the moment.

What’s the funniest thing that’s happened in the vineyard?
We have a giant catapult capable of hurling watermelons about 200m. There was a time when we would fire it straight into our estate vineyards in front of the winery. We had to stop doing that because as it turns out a watermelon fired from a catapult can cause a bit of damage to a vine, but we also had the issue of watermelons growing in the vineyard and subsequently robbing water from the grape vines.

Craig Stansborough & Mark Slade

Purple Hands Wines, Barossa Valley, purplehandswines.com.au

Purple Hands was launched in 2006 when best mates Craig Stansborough and Mark Slade crushed a small batch of shiraz in Craig’s shed. Today their 13-hectare home vineyard in the southern Barossa is where they grow montepulciano and aglianico, as well as shiraz. They also make cracking old-vine grenache and a tidy pinot gris out of the Adelaide Hills under their Colours of the South label.

Craig and Mark recommend their Colours of the  South Rosso.
Craig and Mark recommend their Colours of the South Rosso.

If you could have four well known people to dinner to discuss great reds, who would you invite and why?
Jancis Robinson, as she has so much knowledge; Robert Parker, to ask why he loved the wines he did; Maurice O’Shea, because after reading Campbell Mattinson’s brilliant book, I would love to spend a day in the tasting room and pick his brain on blending. And Ricky Gervais. We’d need someone to take the piss and keep us level-headed.

Which red wines would you serve, other than your own?
It would be a collection of wines from Australia, some of the modern grenache wines plus some alternate varietals and some older Barossa wines to show how wonderfully well they age. I assume they would bring a bottle – that would be the most interesting part. We hope someone brings a bottle of Barolo.

Have you got any special reds stashed away for when you feel like spoiling yourselves?
Absolutely. Both from Australia and overseas. I am a bit of a Barolo fan so I have quite a few of the 13s. I have the odd bottle of Bordeaux and Burgundy, but cannot afford those great wines anymore. I do have some wonderful older Barossa wines in the cellar that I will need to drink soon. I do hear that this virus does not like alcohol and I might need to keep it at bay, so it’s time to open those.

Are there any international reds you like to benchmark your own against?
Definitely, the Southern Rhône in particular. I have been quite a few times now and there are some similarities to the Barossa. When they have a great vintage, like ’16 and ’17, the wines are brilliant. We have had some fun with montepulciano and aglianico on our vineyard, and we are on a mission with these varieties, quite suited to the Barossa and they produce wines so different to the norm.

Which red grape varieties do you reckon we are going to see leading the way in the Barossa in the future, apart from shiraz?
Grenache. It is a wonderful variety to work with and produces styles that are different to what people expect from the Barossa. Italian varieties like fiano, montepulciano, aglianico, nero d’Avola and negroamaro don’t mind the heat. They seem to require less water, but also the flavour and structure is so different to shiraz.

How was the current vintage for you guys?
Interesting – if you like dry winters, poor set, a stupidly hot December, regional bush fires in the Adelaide Hills, and some nasty virus that is going around. Apart from that it was great! The super-mild weather conditions from mid-January onwards have given us some amazing wines.

Have you got any new wines or plans up your sleeve for the future (for when things are looking brighter)?
We have just made a pinot blanc from the Barossa. We went down the textural track with this and I’m pretty happy with how it is looking so far.

Can you recommend three Australian reds you reckon we should lay our hands on, other than your own?
I have been impressed with the Giant Steps pinots. I’ve always enjoyed them. I also tasted some great grenache and syrah from Matt Swinney in Frankland River.

Which of your own wines are drinking particularly well right now?
The 2018 Purple Hands Old Vine Grenache is such an easy drink without simplicity. The Colours of the South Rosso, which is a blend of montepulciano, negroamaro and aglianico, is pretty slippery at the moment. If you want some serious structure and complexity, the 2017 After Five Wine Co Serata is really opening up.